Open date couldn’t come at a better time

Week off will give Tigers time to re-evaluate

Tiger Coach Jeff Miller will have two weeks to rally his troops and get ready for the team’s district opener against Navasota on Oct. 8 at Tiger Field. Reporter/ Cliff Dungan Tiger Coach Jeff Miller will have two weeks to rally his troops and get ready for the team’s district opener against Navasota on Oct. 8 at Tiger Field. Reporter/ Cliff Dungan Rockdale head coach Jeff Miller is torn as to whether the open date on this week’s schedule is a positive or a negative.

“I’ve been trying to figure that out,” he said. “I’m really anxious to figure some things out on offense, so part of me is ready to get back out on the field.

“However, fatigue and the negative offensive attitude we’ve had for the past two weeks, this week off will give us the opportunity to redirect and refocus and re-evaluate what our problems are. That may be what is most important right now, to get away from it for a little while.

“We’ve got to start over.”

Whether the mini-vacation proves to be fortuitous or not is two weeks away, when the Tigers open District 23-3A play by hosting Navasota.

Rockdale is coming off a bad patch in which they have lost three straight games and have scored just 27 points.

No. 1 on Miller’s to-do list: fix the offense.

“We need the week to change our offensive scheme,” Miller said. “We have some ideas.”

Teams have begun to load up on Rockdale on defense, sometimes putting eight and nine people in the box, thus cutting off running back Daniel Brooks angle to the sideline where he can outrun everyone.

“We’re so one dimensional and so predictable,” Miller said. “Normally when a team that runs it every down, there are three options. We don’t have that. All eyes are on one guy (Brooks). They’re outnumbering us.”

After gaining 669 yards and eight touchdowns in his first three games, Brooks has been limited to 110 yards and one score in the past two weeks.

“We expected them to run the ball right at us,” said Madisonville Coach Greg Morgan.

Cause for the special attention comes from Rockdale’s ineffective passing game and the receivers inability to hold on to the ball.

“Our quarterback (sophomore Ethan Brinkley) is playing well,” Miller said. “We’re not getting open and we’re not catching the ball when we are open.

“We’re just not moving the football down the field.”

The Tigers still possess the top defense in the district, allowing just 174 yards per outing, but six of those defenders also stay on the field and start on the other side of the ball.

“Fatigue has been a problem,” said Miller.

While a 2-3 record is short of the mark, it has absolutely nothing to do with the district standings.

While District 23-3A was billed as the toughest 3A league in the state, it has had its troubles.

Rockdale, Navasota, LaGrange and Giddings have all lost at least two games. Giddings was ranked in the top 10 in pre-season polls.

Rockdale and Navasota have both fallen to Class 2A Cameron.

No. 13 Caldwell is the lone team that has made it unfettered through the pre-district ledger.

The Hornets—District 24-3A champions a year ago—have outscored their opposition 167-25.

Rockdale was the only 23-3A team to play Friday. Giddings matchup w ith West Orange- Stark was cancelled because of the death of quarterback Reggie Garrett.

This week, Caldwell v isits Brookshire-Royal which handed Giddings one of its defeats; LaGrange hosts Bellville; Navasota travels to Wharton; and Smithville goes to Columbus.

Giddings will have a second straight week off, the Buffaloes open date was scheduled for this week, along with Rockdale.

One factor in Rockdale’s favor: three of the Tigers’ five district games are at home, where the Tigers are 11-3 in their last 14 games.

TIGER TRACKS

• The Rockdale Tiger Booster Club is selling “District 23-3A Endangered Species” blue shirts for $15. The front has the attached crest on the left chest and the back has the endangered species list (also attached). These are for all sports and will be good for the next two years. Available in sizes youth small to adult 3XL. The shirts are here so just send your payment and they will send you the shirts. Make checks payable to RTBC (Rockdale Tiger Booster Club). District starts on Oct. 8 vs. Navasota. Contact Angel Miller (angelemiller@yahoo.com) at 446-7645 or Denise Betchan (dbetchan@rockdaleisd.net) and get your shirts.

• Injuries got to the Tigers the most they have all season Friday night. Preliminary diagnosis indicate that senior lineman Sal Bishop suffered a torn meniscus and valuable junior lineman sub Stephen Schneider a broken ankle. Both had to be helped from the field and will have MRIs on Thursday. Markus Hayes (ankle), Anthony Montoya (calf), Richard Vasquez (flu), Excell Nelson (knee), Desmond Davis (concussion), Jeri- miah Hall (staph infection) are all nursing sickness or injury. Receiver Devontre White was previously lost for the season with a torn ACL.

• A week after being benched, junior linebacker Derek David re-joined the starting lineup and responded with a game-high 10 tackles. Senior strong safety Casey Burrough followed with eight. David leads the Tigers in stops on the season with 42, followed by Markus Hayes with 33 and Burrough with 30.

• Daniel Brooks was forced to wear No. 23 Friday rather than his usual No. 3 because his uniform was left in Rockdale.

• The Tigers have allowed just 432 yards rushing (150 Friday night) in five games, which is under 100 yards per outing and barely three yards per carry. The Tigers average 6.5 yards every time they rush the ball.

• When the Tigers go for it on fourth down they have been fairly successful, picking up a first down half the time (7-of-14).

• While most teams kick away fom him, Daniel Brooks is averaging nearly 30 yards on kickoff returns on the season.

• Former Tiger All-State performer Austin January (RHS ‘06) made three tackles, including two for a loss of 8 yards and a sack in a 47-7 victory over East Central Oklahoma.

• After pulling out of LSU and getting busted for dope at Oklahoma St., Navasota’s one-time golden boy Dexter Pratt has resurfaced at Kilgore and is trying to resurrect his career. He has 116 yards rushing for the year on 26 carries. He also has three catches for 10 yards.

• Madisonville’s last victory came on Oct. 30, 2009 against Bryan Rudder.


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