When Tyler Tenner was a boy, he used to watch film of his father, Cory, slicing through defenses as a Park High School running back.
It was during the 1998 season when the elder Tenner replaced the graduated Eric Hamilton, a two-time first-team Associated Press running back. In his one year as a starter for Park, Cory Tenner rushed for 2,055 yards and 29 touchdowns and earned first-team All-State honors himself.
“I was able to watch the tapes that he had made when it was still relatively new to me,” Tyler Tenner said. “Seeing daddy do that, that was a big thing for me. And when we went to Park for volleyball games with my cousins and I would always look for my dad on the football pictures.”
The time might come when Tyler Tenner has a son who visits Racine Lutheran to look at similar photos. Because 21 years after Cory Tenner earned first-team All-State honors, Tyler has matched that achievement.
The younger Tenner, who became the state’s all-time leading rusher this season, was voted as one of three first-team running backs on the Associated Press All-State football team. The other two are Alex Current, junior for two-time WIAA Division 1 champion Muskego, and Isaiah Gash, a senior for Bay Port.
The team was selected this week by a panel of sportswriters representing all regions of the state. Honorable mention selections from Racine County were three seniors — Park defensive end Raishein Thomas, Case linebacker Chris Fish and Waterford running back Tanner Keller.
How does Cory Tenner, who has been a co-offensive coordinator for Lutheran, feel about his son matching his All-State status?
“It’s real cool, honestly, because you don’t plan for accomplishments like this,” he said. “When you’ve got kids, your focus is that they go to school and do as good as they can. When they play sports, you just support them in whatever they’re in. Honestly, that’s all I’ve done.”
Did Cory see signs of Tyler at a younger age aspiring to be a football player?
“This has been in Tyler ever since he started to play football,” Cory said. “There were times when he would set up cones in the back yard and create his own drills. He was drawing up his own plays. He’s always loved football and he’s always put everything he has into the game.”
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The ultimate indication of that is Tyler Tenner has finished his high school career with a state-record 6,932 rushing yards. That work ethic is how Lutheran coach Scott Smith is going to remember Tenner, who was second-team AP All-State as a junior.
“He’s a player who worked for what he received,” Smith said. “He works out all the time, he’s taken the time to get better and he’s just a leader. Kids who played around him were better because of him.”
- Thomas, who plans to leave Park after this semester to enroll at Northern Illinois, was an impact player in the tradition of Park’s glory days. The three-year starter had 33 career sacks, 13 of which came his senior year. He also had 93 tackles, 21 of which were for loss.
“His upside at the next level is tremendous,” Horlick coach Brian Fletcher said. “He’s got such a long frame and they’re going to put a lot of muscle on his frame. His athleticism is out of this world for how big he is.”
Fish, regarded as one of the hardest-hitting linebackers in the Southeast Conference, was the soul of Case’s defense. He was voted the SEC’s Linebacker of the Year after registering 47 tackles, 17 of which were for loss, and four sacks.
“He’s a throwback player,” said Franklin coach Louis Brown. “He’s just physical as heck. I don’t think he runs the greatest, but he’s going to get to you and when he gets to you, you’re going to feel it. The more film I watched on him, the more I felt, ‘You know what? He definitely deserves every award he got.’ “
Keller finished his career at Waterford with 4,632 yards, including 1,601 this season. He was named the Southern Lakes Conference Offensive Player of the Year as a junior and senior.
“He is the best running back to ever come out of Waterford,” Waterford coach Adam Bakken said.
- Hunter Wohler of two-time WIAA Division 1 champion Muskego, which is just outside Racine County, was the unanimous choice for the AP Player of the Year in Wisconsin. The junior safety has received numerous Division I offers, including Ohio State.
Wohler finished with a team-high 122 tackles, 79 solo, with two interceptions and six pass deflections.
The Coach of the Year is Bob Hyland of Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs.
Springs defeated Eau Claire Regis 7-0 in the WIAA Division 6 championship game for the team’s third consecutive state title. It was the ninth WIAA championship for Hyland and the 17th state title overall, including Springs’ eight championships as a member of WISAA.
Hyland’s overall record is 477-107-2 in 49 seasons with the Ledgers, which has also been state runner-up nine times.