Are Leps best 1-6 team in the state?

Tigers know they need to win out for playoff hopes


LaGrange quarterback Logan Vinklarek threw for 365 yards and five touchdowns against Rockdale last season as a sophomore in a losing effort. 
FayetteCountyRecord/Tom Ford LaGrange quarterback Logan Vinklarek threw for 365 yards and five touchdowns against Rockdale last season as a sophomore in a losing effort. FayetteCountyRecord/Tom Ford While Rockdale’s prev ious opponent Smithville had spruced up its record beating up on teams with losing records, the Tigers’ next opponent LaGrange, has had the opposite problem.

The 1-6 Leopards have been battling great teams to the bitter end with little to show for it in the win column.

As proof, the five Class 3A team sthat LaGrange has taken on have a combined record of 33-3.

“I think early in the season people were looking at their record and there was this misconception that they weren’t any good,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. “But you look and see that they’re not playing a cupcake schedule by any means.”

“ We’re 1- 6, but these guys know they are a good football team,” second-year LaGrange Coach Matt Kates said. “Nobody can tell me different. These guys have heart, they are going to play hard.”

In the past two weeks, the Leopards have taken on arguably the two best teams in District 23-3A in Giddings and Navasota, losing the two games by a total of four points.

Last Friday, LaGrange was a successful two-point conversion away from upsetting No. 14 Navasota 27-26 at Navasota.

Two weeks ago, the Leopards trailed Giddings 21- 0 before losing 38-35 after running out of time.

“ They have proven that they belong with the best teams in the district. They are starting to play better and are sitting there with a really good team.”

LaGrange is the most evenly matched team when it comes to offense (911 rushing, 827 passing) but are averaging under 250 a game.

The Leopards have tried to rely less on junior quarterback Logan Vinklarek who threw for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns a year ago and was the first-team all-district quarterback.

He has thrown for a little over 800 yards so far with as many interceptions as touchdowns (4).

LaGrange uses a running back by committee approach, with none over 275 yards.

On defense, LaGrange has allowed a league-low 319 yards through the air.

Last year’s 51-37 shootout victory over LaGrange was a pivotal moment in the season and propelled the Tigers into the playoffs.

The matchup may be more impor tant t his t ime around because the Tigers—sitting at 0- 2 in district—know they have to win out to earn a playoff berth.

“We had to treat that game as if it was a playoff game,” Miller said. “We’ll have to do the same thing this year, if not more, because we’ve got to win.

“We can’t lose another one.”

Rockdale quarterback Ethan Brinkley, who has taken a beating the past two weeks, will be alright to play Friday after suffering a deep thigh bruise and sitting out the final nine minutes of the game against Smithville.

This will be the Tigers first game in LaGrange since 2004 when they shared a district.

The Tigers have beaten LaGrange four straight times and last lost to the Leps in 1988.

“Our expectations are to win,” said Miller. “That hasn’t changed. But we are going to have to play better than we have been in the past two weeks.”

Tiger Tracks

• One-time starter and senior Miguel Alonzo has left the team as well as senior lineman Des’mond Davis.

• Sophomore LaDontice Coates, who was on the pre-season roster, returned to the varsity on Friday and started at strong safety, making five tackles.

• Lineman Patrick David and linebacker Markus Hayes are still hobbled by ankle injuries and are not playing at 100 percent. However, Hayes still led the Tigers with 11 tackles against Smithville.

• Sophomore linebacker James David still leads the Tigers in stops for the season at 79 after eight Friday night. Hayes is next with 70.

• Senior receiver Cody Skubal got back on track Friday with seven catches for 95 yards, which brings him closer to school records in both categories. His 39 grabs leaves him just seven behind Joe Sanders’ record of 46 set just three seasons ago. Skubal’s 662 yards is just 118 behind P.J. Williams’ 1994 mark of 780.

• Skubal is tied with Navasota’s Solomon McGinty for the district lead in receptions. McGinty has 15 more yards and one more touchdown. Rockdale receivers hold down five of the top seven spots on the list.

• Ethan Brinkley is moving up on the passing lists as well. His 2,381 career yards is third in line. The junior’s 1,481 yards for the season is 310 behind D.J. Marek’s 2005 record. His 12 touchdown passes is four behind Mark Drake’s 2008 mark.

• Dillon Goodman’s interception against Smithville was just the third of the year for the Tigers, which outs them second in the district behind Navasota’s six.

• Never too early for a little basketball. The Tigers are picked third in District 23-3A in the latest edition of TexPreps Basketball magazine behind Smithville and Navasota. Practice begins Oct. 26.

Rockdale vs. LaGrange

Rockdale leads 6-3
2010 Rockdale* 51-37
2005 Rockdale* 21-9
2004 Rockdale* 15- 0
1989 Rockdale* 21-7
1988 LaGrange* 35-14
1971 Rockdale 27-14
1970 LaGrange 7- 0
1969 LaGrange 24-20
1968 Rockdale 12-7
*district game

THE STARTING LINEUPS

ROCKDALE OFFENSE
No. Pos. Player, Ht.-Wt. Class
8 QB Ethan Brinkley, 6-2, 180 Jr
23 TB Dailynn Ramey, 5-7, 165 Fr
22 FB Marco Hernandez, 5-8, 190 So
15 WR Cody Skubal, 6-3, 175 Sr
7 WR Clayton Gibbs, 6- 0, 170 So
48 TE Patric Trejo, 6-1, 205 Jr
57 LT Pedro Ibares, 6-4, 220 Jr
72 LG Josh Pelzel, 6- 6, 270 So
52 C Ty Kirk, 5-9, 185 Sr
51 RG Steph. Schneider, 6-1, 220 Sr
50 RT Patrick David, 6-1, 230 Sr

LAGRANGE DEFENSE
No. Pos. Player, Ht.-Wt. Class
61 RT Gavin Grayson, 6-1, 185 Sr
76 NG Robert Kitchen, 6-3, 255 Jr
14 LT D’Vonte Daniels, 5-9, 185 Sr
13 LB Jacob Henderson 6-2, 205 Sr
3 LB Josh Foley, 6- 0, 170 Sr
11 LB Sky Sgovio, 5-11, 210 Jr
33 LB William Gibson, 5-11, 165 Jr
22 CB Jaqualle Wilson, 5-8, 175 Sr
5 CB Darrell Morris, 6- 0, 175 Sr
20 S Chance Supak 6- 0, 170 Jr
7 S Justin Neiser, 5-11, 160 Jr

ROCKDALE DEFENSE
55 DE Gabriel McQuinn, 6-1, 240 Jr
50 DT Patrick David, 6-1, 230 Sr
51 DT Steph. Schneider, 6-1, 220 Sr
48 DE Patric Trejo, 6-1, 205 Jr
23 LB Dailynn Ramey, 5-7, 168 Fr
10 LB James David, 6-2, 225 So
34 LB Markus Hayes, 5-9, 208 Jr
20 CB Dillon Goodman, 5-10, 140 Sr
5 CB Zach Garza, 6-1, 175 Sr
7 S Clayton Gibbs, 6- 0, 170 So
4 S Miguel Alonzo, 5-10, 165 Sr

LAGRANGE OFFENSE
18 QB Logan Vinklarek 6-1, 180 So
4 TB Deairreon Oliver, 5-9, 175 Jr
27 WB Skylar Shimek, 5-10, 165 So
24 WB Jason Zbranek, 5-8, 155 Sr
5 WR Darrell Morris, 6- 0, 175 Sr
9 WR Brandon Wilkerson,6- 0, 185 Sr
74 LT Derek Watson, 5-10, 235 Sr
76 LG Robert Kitchen, 6-2, 245 Jr
58 C Logan Kubicek, 5-9, 175 Jr
50 RG Ben Hardin, 6- 0, 245 So
70 RT Ethan Ledwick, 6-2, 205 Sr

ROCKDALE AT LAGRANGE

What: Rockdale Tigers (3-4, 0-2) at LaGrange Leopards (1- 6, 0-2) Where: Leopard Stadium “The Den” (3,000 capacity, grass). When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. Favorite: LaGrange by 7. Last week: Smithville 21, Rockdale 14; Navasota 27, LaGrange 26. Last year: Rockdale 51-37 Series record: Rockdale leads 6-3. District outlook: LaGrange is pickded 3rd in District 23-3A. Leopard to watch: No. 18, Jr. QB Logan Vinklarek If you go: Take Hwy 77 into LaGrange, take a right on Elbin St. Stadium is on the right. 52 miles. Best place to eat: Prause Market (BBQ), 253 W. Travis St.


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