Tigers surpassed expectations of some in 2011
While many felt the Rockdale Tiger football team’s fate was sealed before they even stepped on the field, with the loss of two Division I players before the season ever started, a 4-6 ledger in the campaign that has just come to a conclusion, is better than most experts expected.
Going out with a resounding victory over rival Caldwell is a great way to end the year, despite the fact the Tigers missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.
You’re one of the few teams to end the season with a win and it gives you something to build on when the springtime arrives.
“We battled and battled all year and deserved to win a few more games for whatever reason,” said Jeff Miller, who just completed his sixth season at the helm of the Tigers. “But, everbody played hard, everybody battled.”
Miller lauds his team for never using their personnel problems as an excuse.
While you can point to the Liberty Hill game and probably LaGrange and Smithville as well as potential wins, Miller is quick to point out that Tiger victories over Salado, Cameron and Madisonville could have slipped over in the loss column as well.
“If you asked them, they probably say we should be 0- 10.”
It must be pointed out that the Tigers never once felt sorry for themselves and it would have been easy to tank this season, but as proof of their fight, all four wins this season were of the come-from-behind nature—and two were on the road.
“We fought all year and never gave up,” said Miller. “I’m sure some people say we overachieved, but we are certainly disappointed that we are not going to the playoffs.
“We didn’t leave anything on the field.”
As far as the roster for 2012 goes, the Tigers lose 16 seniors (seven starters), including twoway starters Patrick David and Stephen Schneider.
David turned in another fantastic season depite the fact he was hampered by an ankle injury most of the year.
However, for whatever its worth, six sophomores starters will be back, including All- State calibur linebacker James David and rising lineman Josh Pelzel who at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds can only get better.
It will be difficult to replace the one-year wonder Cody Skubal at receiver, but the Tigers have one of the best possession receivers in the business in sophomore Austin Caffey who is as tough as they come when going over the middle.
Caffey, along with Clayton Gibbs should allow senior-tobe Ethan Brinkley to become the school’s all-time leading passer and the first to become a three-year starter in decades.
And, a 36-member freshman team that just went 8-2, will make for some serious competition at the varsity level next season
Keeping in mind that a good Thorndale team was 7-3 and will say home, here are five area teams that have no business being in the state playoffs:
1. Taylor Ducks (3-7)
2. Austin Travis (3-6)
3. Del Valle (2-8)
4. Austin High (2-8)
5. Austin Lanier (2-7)
Team with the best chance of winning in the first round? Del Valle vs. 4-6 Pflugerville.
Game of the week? Kirbyville vs. Rusk. Both teams are 3-7.