HS Football: Conroe Grabs First Win Since District Opener Against Grand Oaks

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 10/19/2023


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The Grand Oaks Grizzlies (2-7) fell to the visiting Conroe Tigers (4-4) during the Grizzlies’ senior night festivities.

Following the celebration of the Grizzlies' graduating class, both teams took to the field for the first drive.

From the first snaps, it was clear that scoring would be sparse. Both team’s defenses would keep the score tied at zero as all of the first five combined drives of the game resulted in no points.

The lack of success was due to a combination of penalties against the offenses and tackles in the backfield, forcing Grand Oaks and Conroe to work from behind the chains.

The Tigers were the first team to string together a drive into enemy territory, finding itself inside the Grand Oaks five-yard line. A series of backfield tackles from Grizzly defenders pushed the Tiger offense farther from the endzone, forcing them to attempt a field goal. Luckily for the Grizzlies, the kick sailed wide to the right of the goalposts, and the score remained tied 0-0 as the first quarter ended.

Both defenses continued to strengthen their holds on the game, with minimal success coming from either offense. This stranglehold culminated in an interception from Tigers defensive back Marc Jones on his team’s 27-yard line.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Conroe Head Coach Cedric Hardeman talked about how important defensive success was in the early game.

“We started off slow offensively,” said Hardeman. “The defense kept us in position to where we could get the ball back and flip the field.”

After the interception, Conroe rode an explosive run from quarterback Christian Nunley inside the Grand Oaks 10-yard line. The drive was paid off with a four-yard completion from Nunley to Jalen Mayon for the first score of the game.

With the Tigers up 7-0 midway through the second quarter, the Grizzlies needed to find ways to get their offense going. Changes at quarterback were decent attempts at doing so, but the Tigers were ready for the changes, continuing to get stops in the backfield.

Conroe continued their offensive success after their first score with another touchdown drive. A 56-yard touchdown run from Damekco Green notched another score for the Tigers with only a minute expired from their last.

Grand Oaks tried to connect on downfield passes for chunk yards but could not get past the oppressive coverage of the Tiger’s secondary. Another failed drive gave the ball back to Conroe with less than three minutes left in the half.

As the clock wound down in the first half, Conroe mounted another drive towards the Grand Oaks endzone. The drive ended with the Tigers breaking the plane on a 21-yard touchdown toss to Nigel Leday with less than 10 seconds left. Grand Oaks chose to run out what was left of the clock and went into the locker room down 21-0.

“We continue to get better,” said Hardeman. “We were out there with freshmen quarterbacks and guards playing tackle, but the kids kept playing.”

Even after the halftime adjustments, the Conroe defense kept its hold on the Grizzlies. None of the Grand Oaks drives in the third quarter made their way into Conroe territory.

This success on defense and the recovery of a muffed punt allowed the Tigers to score another time. Green took a handoff to the right side of the line of scrimmage, where he went into the endzone for a 28-0 score as the third quarter expired.

Positive momentum began to swing in favor of the Grizzlies during the fourth quarter. The Tigers misread an incoming punt and failed to field it cleanly. A handful of Grand Oaks coverage players fell on top of the ball and recovered it on Conroe’s 40-yard line.

The ensuing drive worked its way inside the Conroe five, where a short pass to tight end Roan Brawley finally got the Grizzlies on the board. The excitement was short-lived, however, as the extra point attempt collided with the upright, setting the score at 28-6 with the Tigers still in front.

The misfortune for Grand Oaks extended on Conroe’s next drive. Nunley rolled to his left near the goalline and connected in the corner with Leday for the receiver’s second score.

Grand Oaks would attempt a last-minute score in response, but the effort fell short. The clock hit zero, and the Grizzlies had to depart with a 35-6 loss to the Tigers.

The win stood as the first of the season for Conroe since their district opener against Caney Creek. The win also demonstrated the courage and willpower of the Tigers program.

“We use a built different mentality,” said Hardeman. “These kids are built different going through adversity. They continue to fight, and they continue to work.”

The Tigers will look to parlay this win into another against the Cleveland Indians, while Grand Oaks ends their season on November 3rd against the Indians.

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