After helping lead Pine Bluff to its first football championship since 1995 in December – and 22nd in school history, the three-star tight end played on the Zebras’ state champion basketball team.
While both seasons ended the same, the roads to the championships were quite different.
“In football, we were the two-seed and we came in and did our job,” Tate said. “In basketball, we lost a couple games before the tournament.”
Specifically, Pine Bluff finished the regular season 13-13 and sneaked into the Class 6A playoffs as the six-seed out of the 6A-South.
“Our coach gave us a talk before state,” Tate said. “He told us that we were underdogs, but had a chance. We just played as a team and everyone focused.”
That focus carried the Zebras to a 58-50 upset over two-seed Marion in the first round and to three straight upsets over one-seeds.
Pine Bluff’s next game after Marion was against Little Rock Parkview, which beat the Zebras by 26 and 21 points during the regular season. Pine Bluff won 49-48.
Then the Zebras upset Alma 75-59 in the semifinals and hung on for a 46-43 win over Jonesboro in the championship game.
“We had a good practice before the Jonesboro game,” Tate said. “It was a good run.”
Now that basketball season is over, Tate’s focus will shift back to the football field, where he is drawing interest from Arkansas and has six offers.
Louisiana-Monroe and Houston are the latest schools to offer him, joining Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville and Ole Miss.
Tate said Notre Dame and Arizona State are also showing interest.
Before he picks a school to play college football, Tate will try to defend his state title at the high school level.
He won’t be going at it alone, as he has a talented group of teammates around him, including safety David Beasley, quarterback/safety Ladarius Skelton and running back Romar Reades.
“We were undefeated through eighth and ninth grade,” Tate said. “We have lots of stars. We’re dedicated and focused on winning again next year.”