State semifinalist Arp takes pride in defense

An Arp tackler swallows up a Newton ball carrier during last week's state quarterfinal. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

When looking up Arp's season statistics posted on, one notices something immediately.

The Tigers offensive stats are not listed.

Arp's updated defensive statistics, however, are there for all to see: 11 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries, 59 tackles per game.

While the majority of the state is all about high-scoring shootouts and gaudy passing numbers, Arp coach Dale Irwin makes his program's mission statement pretty clear.

"I just don't believe and our coaches don't believe that we have to play every game and make it 49-43," Irwin said. "We are not going to play defense that way; our kids and staff take a lot of pride in our defense."

The Newton Eagles understand how much pride.

Arp (12-2) took out the previously undefeated Eagles by holding the top-ranked team in Class 3A Division II to six points, its lowest output in 21 games.

Arp now gets Boling (12-1) in the 3A Division II semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Texan Drive Stadium in New Caney. The winner gets the winner of the Canadian-Gunter game in the state championship game.

This is Arp's first trip to the state semifinals since 1977. The Tigers had reached the quarterfinals six times since then (1996, 2001, '07, '08, '09, '11), but never could take the next step.

"It has been a while," Irwin said. "We've been fighting for it every year and this year we have got great senior leadership. We have 21 seniors, eight who start on defense and nine who start on offense, and we are going to do or best and give it our all."

Arp dropped two of its first six games while also beginning district play 1-1. Since then, the Tigers are 8-0 and have been doing it by making things miserable for opposing offenses.

"We feel like if you are going to move the ball on us, you will have to be very balanced," Irwin said. "We are going to try and take away what you do best. We also try to make it a six- or seven-possession game. The opponent is going to have to score on four of their possessions to beat us."

Last week against Newton, the Tigers loaded up nine in the box to force the Eagles to throw.

Irwin said the nine in the box doesn't tell the whole story because the ninth player was junior free safety Demarvion Overshown who Irwin calls a head hunter.

"He was a defensive end last year and we made him free safety," Irwin said. "He is probably one of the top free safeties in the state of Texas. If we can keep (Overshown) in the box and make you throw the ball, we feel like we have a good shot against anybody."

Overshown leads the Tigers with 153 tackles and inside linebacker Terry Nance has 100 tackles.

Newton eventually did get on the scoreboard against Arp in the fourth quarter with the Tigers leading 13-0.

It took several trick plays to do it.

"We felt like we had it all in control and they ran six trick plays in a row to score," Irwin said. "They did a double reverse pass and double pitch pass. We felt like if we recovered the onside kick, it was over, and we did."

The Tigers are also a good offensive team, scoring a little less than five touchdowns per game, but Arp does it in a way that runs the clock and controls the contest. Throwing the ball stops the clock, so the Tigers have attempted only 95 passes this season.

Of Arp's ball carriers, only two average double-digit carries. Junior Demontre Wade averages 11.8 per game with 977 yards and 11 touchdowns while quarterback Tyler Stewart averages 10.7 per game with 749 yards and 12 TDs. Arp's top scorer, Kayce Medlock, averages 7.2 carries per contest. With those attempts, Medlock has rushed for 1,125 yards and scored 16 TDs.

"If you are going to be selfish and want the ball 40 times a game, you're not going to play in Arp, Texas," Irwin said. "On the other hand, if you went to get on the train, you are welcome (and let's go win)."


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