Behind senior QB Ethan Brinkley and a new OC, Tigers plan to rev it up this season

The Rockdale Tigers were forced to pass last season out of necessity.

When they take to the air this year, it will be for the velocity.

Like most of the civilized football world, the Tigers have gone NASCAR, which in the latest football vernacular means move at a rapid pace, just like Dale Jr. around the track at Talladega.

Record setting quarterback Ethan Brinkley finds himself with a young new crew chief in Hunter Hamrick, who at a youthful looking 28, looks like he could jump in there and play himself.

Hamrick and head coach Jeff Miller find themselves with the rarest of rarities—a full-time, three-year starter at quarterback.

In the history of Rockdale football, there have been none that can be documented.

(David Burton started full-time in 1988 and 1989 and a few games in 1987. Scott Sparks started in 1977 and 1978 and several games

• RHS is 55-42-3 in season openers all-time, dating back to 1910.

• The Tigers are 4-2 under Jeff Miller in season openers and had won five straight before last season’s loss to Abilene Wylie. From 1970-78, the Tigers captured nine straight season openers.

• Entering his seventh season here, only two coaches have roamed the sidelines longer than Miller: Casey Creghan (1994-03) and Fred Johnson (1973-80)

• The Tigers are 5-5 in season openers in the past 10 years.

• The Tigers are 10-9-1 in the past 20 years in season openers.

• The Tigers were 2-3 last season at home and are 14-7 in the past three seasons at Tigerland Field.

• According to Texas HS, Rockdale is 465-422- 27 all-time in football.

• The Tigers haven’t won a district title since 1999, the last of consecutive crowns.

• Should the Tigers make the playoffs this season, it would give Miller five playoff appearances which would tie him with Johnson for second all-time behind Casey Creghan’s six post-season trips.

• Miller needs seven wins to reach 70 for his career. This season marks Miller’s 20th as a coach, 12 as a head coach. Last season marked just the third time he had missed the playoffs.

• Under the current playoff format, the Tigers would have made the playoffs for eight straight years from 1973-80. They were district champs in 73-75-76-77- 79; 2nd in 74 and 80; and third in 78.

• The 1912 Tiger team did not score a single point all year but salvaged their season with a 0-0 tie with Cameron to go 0-2-1.

• This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1962 team playing for the state championship, where it lost to Jacksboro.

• The Tigers were more successful on fourth down that third last season, 57 to 44 per cent. in 1976).

Brinkley needs just 64 yards to surpass Mark Drake’s all-time passing mark of 3,000 career yards and just five touchdowns to better Drake’s career mark of 27.

He could pick up that number on his first pass of the season—or first drive.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound southpaw established five new passing marks last season, including season (2,027), game (444), completions in a game (32), attempts (51) and touchdowns in a game (4).

“You don’t have to worry about Ethan,” Hamrick says. “He takes care of himself. “He’s a real smart kid and he works hard in the off season.”

“To come from where he was as a sophomore, he has developed into a great leader,” said Miller. “Because of his experience and hisintelligence,itallowsusto do so much.”

The Tigers were already employing the no-huddle offense, Hamrick just amped it up a tad when he showed up in April, replacing long-time coordinator John Kovar who had taken the head job at Normangee.

“It makes a huge difference that Hunter was able to come in here so early,” Miller said. “He’s great with the kids and well organized.”

Brinkley, who has gained interest from Division I schools, has added 30 pounds to his big-boned frame from this time last season and should help with his durability, which to this point, has been dead-solid-perfect.

Brinkley’s new pit crew consists of a cast of veterans, but, have limited pass catching experience with just one touchdown catch between them after losing his two top receivers from last season, Cody Skubal and Zach Garza.

An All-State choice, Skubal set school records in spectacular fashion for catches and yardage in a season (52 for 910).

Garza’s 37 grabs were good for third all-time.

A ustin C affey ( district n ewcomer of the year) has the most grabs (33) of the returnees and is a tough-as-nails reciever that doesn’t mind going across the middle and punishing those who dare to stop him.

Junior Clayton Gibbs is next w ith 23 catches. Dean, who played football for the first time last season since junior high, did not catch a pass in 2011.

Like Gibbs, Dean will also start on defense.

Brinkley may find his next Skubal in varsity newcomer, sophomore Pearce Loth, who has shown a great pair of hands and at 6-foot-4, the ability to go up and grab the ball ala Skubal.


Despite a strong early showing, the Tigers ran out of gas in their scrimmage with Robinson Thursday.

“I felt we impoved over the week and did a lot things better than we did last week against Marlin,” Miller said. “We really dominated and moved the ball at will and did a great job of stopping them.

“Then it all fell apart and we got a little tired. Our lack of conditioning really showed. We got pushed around.”

“We’ve shown glimpses of being where we were last year as far as the passing game goes,” said Miller. “But after the scrimmage, our practice Monday was as bad as we’ve had.”


After the wild west show 51-42 come-from-behind victory by the Tigers last season, anything goes for this year’s matchup.

“Both teams are better defensively than they were last year,” Miller said. “I don’t see 93 points being scored again.”

The two teams also combined for 55 first downs and almost 1,000 yards of offense.

The Eagles have dropped back down to Class 2A and have been picked third in District 13-2A, Division I behind Cameron and Lago Vista.

The Eagles, 5-5 a year ago, are led by junior quarterback Ryan Simmons, who started one game last season—against Rockdale.

He was subbing for fellow junior Mike Richardson (2,000 yards passing) who was injured and has since transferred to Marble Falls to play for new Mustang coach Todd Dodge.

In his stint against Rockdale, all Simmons did was throw for 175 yards and run for 117 more for a 28-20 Salado haltime lead.

It took a record-setting evening by Brinkley and Skubal to rally the Tigers to the victory, outscoring Salado 31-14 in the second half.

The Eag les, who d ropped two games in overtime in 2011, return 13 starters and have not made a playoff appearance since 2008.

Despite its record, Salado averaged 39 points and 414 yards of offense last season.

TIGER TRACKS—The Tigers are banged up slightly going into the opener.

Starting tackle Josh Pelsel (shoulder), starting tight end Patric Trejo (ankle), starting running back/defensive back Dailynn Ramey (calf) and starting fullback Marco Hernandez (wrist) are all day-to-day...

Salado is a surprising 5-point favorite in the game...

Show your spirit Rockdale businesses. Paint the town blue and g old. T he R ockdale T iger Booster Club is asking you to help showcase Tiger spirit. Judging will take place Tuesday mornings, beginning September 4.

To enter the weekly contests please email on Monday evenings with your request.

Winners will be announced Fridays on the Tigrs Facebook page. Recognition will be given at home games, in The Rockdale Reporter and on KRXT.

the starters


No. Pos. Player, Ht.-Wt. Class
8 QB Ethan Brinkley, 6-3, 210 Sr
23 TB Dailynn Ramey, 5-8, 175 So
6 X Pearce Loth, 6-4, 175 So
33 H Austin Caffey, 6-0, 180 Jr
7 Y Clayton Gibbs, 6-0, 185 Jr
25 Z William Dean, 6-0, 275 Sr
57 LT Pedro Ibares, 6-4, 225 Sr
68 LG Dedrick Page, 5-8, 220 Jr
65 C Ramsey Zinn, 6-0, 260 Jr
55 RG Gabriel McQuinn, 6-1, 240 Sr
72 RT Josh Pelzel, 6-6, 300 Jr


18 DE Pete Heintze, 6-0, 200 Jr
73 DT Kristian White, 5-9, 280 Jr
55 DT Gabriel McQuinn, 6-1, 240 Sr
57 DE Patric Trejo, 6-2, 225 Sr
32 LB Elijah Brooks, 5-9, 190 Jr
10 LB James David, 6-3, 225 Jr
34 LB Markus Hayes, 5-10, 215 Sr
25 CB William Dean, 6-0, 175 Sr
23 CB Dailynn Ramey, 5-8, 175 So
7 S Clayton Gibbs, 6-0, 185 Jr
11 S Ladontice Coates, 5-10, 180 Jr
* returning starter

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