ARLINGTON — Dee Paul may have broken his right wrist in the second quarter Thursday afternoon.
After being slung out of bounds by Tenaha defensive back Keontas Davis, the Munday quarterback was noticeably rubbing it. And the few passes that he threw in the first half were high and out of reach of his receivers.
"I was in a lot of pain when it first happened," Paul told me. "I couldn't grip the ball because every time I did, it hurt bad."
His wrist might be broken, but his legs were just fine.
"It takes a lot to hurt these legs," Paul said with a grin after running for 263 yards and three touchdowns in Munday's 42-14 blowout of Tenaha for the Class A Division II football state championship.
The win avenged a 52-28 loss to the Tigers a year ago.
"It was heart. That's all it was. We put our hands inside their mouths, went down their throats and took their heart out," Paul said.
"We wore them down a little bit. We got them tired and ran right by them."
Tenaha couldn't have been too tired when Paul took his first journey into the end zone.
It happened on Munday's second offensive play of the game.
Paul swept left and sped through everyone in his path on the 57-yard trip.
"Coach said the first time we ran that, it would be six," he said. "He told me to try to get to the outside and use my speed. My blockers set me up on the edge, and I did my thing."
Tenaha may not have been able to catch Paul, but the Tigers caught Munday in the second quarter and the game was tied 14-14 at the half.
Paul went scoreless in both the second and third quarters, but as good as this kid is, he is not a one-man team.
Roddrick Taylor put the Moguls up 20-14 with an 18-yard touchdown dash midway through the third quarter. Less than a minute later, Munday stretched its lead to 28-14 on L.J. Collier's 35-yard interception return.
Two plays before his touchdown, Collier had swatted down J.R. Hill's first-down pass.
"I saw the guy across from me cut out, and I saw the quarterback turn," Munday's junior defensive end explained. "I shot up the field and put my hands up. I've got really long arms.
"I was thinking I was going to bat it down, but it was above me. So I caught it."
Paul, who plays safety on Munday's defense, said after Collier swiped the pass, he was thinking, "I hope nobody gets in front of him. If they do, they're going to get hurt."
Collier's interception may never have happened it hadn't been for Paul's defensive effort that may have gone unnoticed to most of the 7,439 people in Cowboys Stadium.
On second down, in between Collier's swat and his interception, Tenaha running back Chavis Gregory found a hole in the Munday defense and looked like he might break it.
But Paul went low and took the legs out from underneath Gregory, holding him to 18 yards instead of 74.
Even though Paul broke loose for touchdown runs of 55 and 60 yards in the fourth quarter, he said he wants to play defense in college.
Paul made an early commitment to SMU but backed out when he found out that school doesn't have a track program. He has won seven individual gold medals and led Munday to two state titles in track and field the last three years.
But he still includes SMU when talking about his college possibilities.
"I try not to think about it, but I can't help but think about it. I've got a couple of visits to make," Paul said, mentioning Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, SMU, Tennessee and Baylor as his possible choices.
Whatever his choice, he wants to play on the defensive side of the ball.
"I love to play defense. I want to bring the sexiness that Deion Sanders brought as a defensive back. The game has lost that," Paul said.
Right after ending his high school football career, Paul — with a gold medal hanging from neck — turned his attention to another sport.
"I've got to get ready for basketball," he said. "I think we're going to have a game before we ever have a practice."
There's more gold out there to win.
Sports Editor Nick Gholson can be reached at email@example.com or 940-720-3447.