MUNDAY — Although it has been five years, Jake Myers can recall the attributes that made the 2007 Munday defensive line so dominant.
"That defensive line, they played aggressive, mean and everything," Myers said of the unit that was most responsible for the Moguls' championship that year. "That's what we're trying to bring back so we can get us a state title, too."
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this year's quintet in Munday's 5-3 defensive front is a pretty comparable replica heading into Thursday's Class A Division II title game against Tenaha.
Defensive ends L.J. Collier and Myers, tackles Xzavier Bulliner and Jerico Thompson and nose guard Jarrett Masias form a unit that has combined for 95 tackles for a loss despite being in flux early on.
In a season in which much of Munday's personnel remains the same from last year, all three interior linemen are either new starters or playing a different position.
With Tyrone Dockins moving to linebacker, it opened another hole to fill besides the void Blanford Paul left when he graduated.
An important addition was Masias, a Munday native who moved back with his mother to his hometown in the middle of the season. Coach Patrick Corcoran said the sophomore's addition really solidified the unit.
"He added a dimension that we really didn't have on this team as far as a player that plays 100 miles per hour until that whistle blows," Corcoran said. "It doesn't matter if he has been blocked or fell down on the ground, he's running to the football."
On a senior-laden team only starting two juniors — Collier and Thompson — Masias is the only underclassman and youngest contributor. But he has made his presence felt with 74 tackles and a team-high five sacks.
"It's kind of hard being one of the youngest playing because you've got to work and show them just because you're young, you can play with them," Masias said. "It wasn't hard because I'll do whatever to help the team. I wasn't worried about it."
Not only did Masias have to adjust to a new team on the fly, he also had played linebacker at Mineral Wells. But the Moguls were stacked at that position and needed the 185-pounder up front.
Masias' arrival came at a time when Bulliner was out with a knee injury suffered during the third game of the season. Bulliner was the team's nose guard last year before scooting over to tackle, and while that transition went well, sitting out a handful of games was a helpless feeling.
"It was a little frustrating having to sit on the sidelines and watch my team do what they had to do," Bulliner said. "At some point, I wish I was in the games, but I knew they were going to handle their business."
While it's nice to have a couple linebacker-types like Myers (111 tackles) and Masias, a plugger who can occupy multiple blockers can be essential, too. That role goes to Thompson, who Corcoran promised "you're not going to move."
The defensive ends have been the constants as both saw playing time two years ago. While Myers (6-0, 189) and Collier (6-2, 237) have different physiques, their complex roles are the same.
"They do a good job of keeping the ball from getting outside of them. Jake with his quickness and L.J. with his length, it makes things hard on offenses," Corcoran said. "They have to be inside-out players and we ask a lot of those two — to squeeze a hole but don't let anything outside of you."
Bulliner said Tenaha was the stronger team last season, which showed as the Tigers racked up 551 total yards in a 52-28 win.
He expects a better showing this time around and doesn't believe the unit has reached its potential, which is a little scary considering the success they've had.
"I don't think we've actually played to that point and reached our max yet," Bulliner said. "We make a few mistakes. I think if we can seal up those mistakes, it will be kind of hard to stop us."