Tigers district favorites in Texas Football
According to the "football bible" that year is going to be updated.
The 50th edition of Texas Football has tabbed Big Blue as the District 24-3A favorite and has positioned them with a No. 15 pre-season state ranking.
"I've been preaching to the kids every since I got here that all you want to be is considered one of the top teams and I think that's starting to sink in," said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. "Polls don't mean anything, but we are starting to get respect as a program and that's all you can ask for."
The last time a Tiger team was ranked in the pre-season poll was 1976 when they were the pre-season No. 1. in Class 2A. (Note: TF only ranked 10 teams until 1998).
Rockdale ended last season as the 19th ranked team in the Texas Football rankings.
The magazine thinks Gilmer and West Orange-Stark will be left alone at the top of the mountain when the season ends as state champions in their respective divisions, two teams Rockdale might have to face in the regional playoffs.
And despite the fact it is losing first-team all-state performers, quarterback Si'Darius Blackshire (Kilgore) and player of the year running back Dwight Smith (TCU), Carthage is ranked second behind Gilmer.
Carthage knocked Rockdale out of the playoffs last season en route to a state championship.
Six of the top 10 ranked teams are in Rockdale's Region III.
Back in District 24, defending league champion Navasota was chosen second, followed by and always dangerous Cameron squad.
Navasota was a huge disappointment last season, falling in the first round of the playoffs despite possessing half a dozen Division I players, while a talented Cameron team did not even make the playoffs despite beating Rockdale handily.
Yoe quarterback Steven Townsend was selected as the pre-season offensive player of the year in the district.
Rockdale returns 24 lettermen and 15 starters but will be required to replace two of its greatest performers in allstate linebacker Nic Hammett (who now plays at Rice) and the school's all-time leading passer in Mark Drake (3,000 yards).
Senior Joe Sanders—who bec ame t he T igers' a ll-t ime leading receiver last season—is expected to move back under center where he has played before.
Lineman Logan David (6-4, 300) is a Division I caliber player and is listed on Texas Football's Texas Top 300.
The Tigers open up on the road at Llano this season, who are picked fourth in District 8-3A behind Wimberley and Liberty Hill.
Because of a quirk in scheduling, Rockdale will play six games at Tiger Field this season.
Bec au se of t he new la r ge school/small school realignment put into effect next year, this will probably be the last time Thorndale and Milano will share a district.
Thorndale lineman Tyler Jordan (6-0, 240) was selected as the pre-season defensive player of the year.
Both schools will be sporting new coaches on the sideline.
Assistant Craig Jentsch takes the reigns in Milano, while Kade Burns was just hired last week away from Monahans to take over for long-time Thorndale coach Todd Doughty who moved to Meridian.
Thorndale was 5-6 last season and a playoff team, while Milano was 4-6 overall and 0-5 in district play.
Thorndale will be led by running backs Shea Maupin (448 yards) and Paxton Jordan (424 yards) as new coach Burns switches the Bulldogs over to a wing-T formation.
Milano is led by quarterback Mat t hew Jentsch (997 tota yards).
Doughty's Meridian team has been pegged as the third place team in District 25A after going 7-3 a year ago.
Former Rockdale coach Robby Clark's Midlothian team is expected to finish sixth in District 16-4A.