By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
FROST — —
Jacob Stroder has a mindset of most quarterbacks, and he’s also a pitcher in baseball.
So it’s not surprising he wants to chunk it, just like the Golden Circle’s leading passer and a fellow baseball hurler, Mildred’s Nic Shimonek.
But that’s not the Frost Polar Bears, who punish people with their Wing T running attack. And Stroder, a senior and three-year starter, is fine with that.
“Passing it is not our strong point,” Stroder said. “But we can do it.”
The Polar Bears (12-1) may need to be a little more balanced against defending Class 1A DII state champion Tenaha (8-4), which rolls into Friday’s Region III-1A DII Final on a six-game winning streak.
But the Polar Bears won’t unless they have to throw it.
Stroder has passed for 747 yards, which accounts for 15 percent of the Polar Bears’ offense (Shimonek, by comparison, throws for 180 yards per game).
Obviously this isn’t a Frost offense that relies on the pass. Tenaha, in comparison, relies on the pass for 37 percent of its yardage (the Polar Bears have out-gained the Tigers for the season 4,943 yards to 4,077).
“In a different system, Stroder would be your typical spread offense guy,” Frost coach Eric Blenden said. “He can run the ball for the zone-read plays. He throws a perfect ball.
“That’s just not who we are,” Blenden said. “We’re a running team. Stroder cherishes the chances he gets to throw it.”
Frost can sneak up you with the pass. The Polar Bears execute screen passes very well — fullback Woody Woods scored on one in the 16-12 playoff win over Chilton.
Leading rusher Danial Steels has 10 catches for 265 yards and two touchdowns, out of the backfield, and sometimes when he lines up at receiver.
The Polar Bears had a 40-yard touchdown pass called back because of a holding penalty in their 28-14 bi-district win over Detroit.
Last week, Josh Riojas — Frost’s leading receiver with 298 yards and three touchdowns — got behind the secondary and was wide open for what likely would have been a score, but Stroder barely underthrew him.
“I just let my adrenaline get pumped up,” Stroder said. “It was a little short.”
The Polar Bears will throw it depending on field position and what the defense is dictating.
“We set up our passes off of our running game,” Blenden said. “If we’re running it well, we’re able to take a chance.”
And if the Polar Bears fall behind — something that hasn’t happened in three playoff games — can Stroder throw for 150 yards? Maybe 200?
“We work on that every day,” Blenden said. “If we need to, if for some reason we fall behind, we can throw it if we need to.”
NOTES: Frost will be visitors for the fourth straight game and wear its all white uniforms ... Frost and Tenaha have one common opponent — Mount Enterprise. Tenaha beat the Wildcats 35-32 on Oct. 19. Frost of course routed Mount Enterprise in last Friday’s playoff game, 38-13 ... Tenaha lost four regular-season games and one of those opponents is still alive in the playoffs — Alto. Tenaha lost to Alto 25-13 on Sept. 14 ... Blenden said his one disappointment from the win against Mount Enterprise was two fumbles lost, one at the Wildcats 2-yard line and the other when the Polar Bears were running out the clock at the end of the game ... Frost still won the turnover battle with three takeaways.
Passing as a bonus
Frost’s offense revolves around the running game with only 15 percentage of its yardage coming by the way of the pass. That doesn’t mean Polar Bears QB Jacob Stroder can’t hit the big play in the passing game. Here’s a run down of Frost’s three biggest pass plays:
Receiver Yards Opponent
Danial Steels (Aug. 31) 56 Chico
Robert Worley (Nov. 2) 56 Meridian
Woody Woods (Sept. 21) 51 Itasca
Season totals: Jacob Stroder, 33-for-71, 747 yds., 8 TDs