Tigers eye another breakout season
When we last left the Smithville Tigers, they had just capped off their greatest season in decades by making a playoff appearance.
Fast forward a year later and the Tigers have a new coach, but the same desire to build up some kind of consistency in their once downtrodden football program.
After guiding the Tigers to the playoffs, coach Justin Wiley (19-31 in five years) departed for his hometown Ballinger and was replaced by long-time assistant Wayne Childs.
Childs, 31, has been at Smithville for seven years and the defensive coordinator for the past four.
The first-time head coach will be more than a little familiar with the 16 starters coming back as nine of them will line up on defense.
Childs was left with an unenviable schedule of playing Lampasas, Marble Falls, Liberty Hill and Sealy in pre-district, but have emerged with a respectable 2-2 record, including a win over Todd Dodge and Marble Falls.
“I honestly believe that we have things going in the right direction,” Childs said. “We don’t need to change a lot.”
Rockdale fell victim to that “run” last season that led to a playoff spot for the first time in 13 years, falling to Smithville for just the second time in their 23-game history and for the first time since 1990.
In a close game, Smithville rallied for 14 points in the final 5:49 for a 21-14 victory in Rockdale.
Rockdale quarterback Ethan Brinkley was injured with eight minutes to go.
The two Tigers do have a common opponent: Smithville didn’t have much luck stopping Liberty Hill either two weeks ago and lost 49-13 after allowing 35 second half points.
Smithville is coming off a 28-14 loss to Sealy.
“We’re both on two-game losing streaks,” Miller said. “We both need one desperately.”
Rockdale will be missing at least 10 players who will not be available for Friday’s game.
Josh Pelzel (broken femur), Ramsey Zinn (knee), Kristian White (broken ankle), Dailynn Ramey (shoulder), Dedrick Page (concussion), Stefan Hinojosa (concussion), Gabriel McQuinn ( broken hand), Dillan Ford (shoulder), William Dean (broken wrist).
Zinn has a torn meniscus, but could possibily return at some point in the season.
McQuinn is questionable. Page will be out at least two weeks.
Ford is out for the season.
Marco Hernandez returned to action Friday after suffering a broken wrist.
As a result of the injuries, Miller will be moving up three offensive linemen from the junior varsity for Friday’s game; Jerad Gerren, Quondrous Ayala and Javier Mayberry.
The Tigers now have just four experienced linemen on the varsity roster.
• Senior linebacker Markus Hayes collected an impressive 27 tackles Friday against Liberty Hill. While there is no solid record of tackles made by a Rockdale player in a game, the most on record is 29 by Richard Kubiak in 1968 against Belton.
• Before he left with a knee injury, Ethan Brinkley broke Mark Drake’s career record for touchdowns passes of 27. With two Friday, the senior now has 29.
• It was a busy evening for Michael Boyd. The sophomore lineman found himself in the starting lineup for the injured Josh Pelzel and then when center Ramsey Rinn went down, Boyd shifted over to center. He graded out highest of all the linemen. “He knocked it out of the park. He was the last man standing,” Miller said.
• The domino effect was in place Friday night after Gibbs stepped in at quarterback for Brinkley as four receivers (Devante Burgess, Javante Gates, Drevonne Walton and Karrtaviues Burton) all caught their first passes of the season. The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Burgess led the way with five catches for 73 yards and Walton hauled in a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Rockdale vs. Smithville