Tigers looking out for No. 1
“We showed a lot about the character of these kids,” Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller said after the 45-13 win over Madisonville Friday. “It would have been real easy for them to fold up and it didn’t happen.
“We had to dominate and we did. It was as good a game as we have played all year.”
Coming off a bye-week, Navasota (7-0 overall, 1-0 in District 18-3A) has conquered the Tigers six straight times and leads the series 6-5, including a 53-14 thumping last season at Tigerland Field.
While the Kadarius Baker Air Show gets most of the attention (2,232 yards, 27 TDs), the difference maker in this year’s Rattler squad is their air-tight defense, which may be the best Navasota has had in its decade of dominance.
“That’s the difference,” agreed Miller, who has never faced a No. 1 team in 20 years of coaching. “That’s the difference between good teams and great teams. How many great players you have at each position. They have that on defense.”
In what has been a not particularly tough pre-district schedule, the Rattler have allowed just 43 points and 174 yards per outing.
While pitching a pair of shutouts, 13 of those surrendered points were posted by Lexington. In their last action two weeks ago, the Rattlers blanked Madisonville 38-0.
Navasota is anchored on defense by a pair of all-state linebacker performers: Jake Bauer (62 tackles, 3 sacks) and Jaylin Minor (65 tackles, 3 sacks).
He has been replaced by brother Coy.
“We are fortunate that not many guys have to go both ways this year,” said Navasota Coach Lee Fedora, “and that allows those guys to concentrate more on one side of the ball.
“They bring a lot of discipline, speed, strength, and physicality. They are always listening to their coaches and studying what there opponent is about to attack them with. They never look past any opponent- they only look at what can make them better as a unit. 11 guys flying around the football all the time.
No other Class 3A team has made five straight quarterfinals appearances. Could this be the year the Rattlers break on through?
Miller and his squad have every intention of sacking the snakes.
“You have to go out there and play as clean a game as you can play. If we do our job and f ly around the ball, we can be in it at the end.”
• With his 292-yard performance against Madisonville (thirdbest in RHS history), Ethan Brinkley now has 1,290 yards passing to mark just the 10th time a Tiger passer has reached the 1,000- yard plateau. Brinkley and Mark Drake (2007-08) have done it twice. The senior lefthander is the Tigers all-time leading passer with 4,227 yards and 31 touchdowns.
• The triple overtime loss to Taylor was the third overtime contest in RHS history and the first since a 28-27 win over Midland Christian in 2008.
• Elijah Brooks is quietly posting some outstanding numbers this season. The junior running back is first in District 18-3A in rushing touchdowns with 12 and is second in rushing with 748 yards to Madisonville’s Dontae Christ’s 1,035. Christ has carried the ball 56 more times than Brooks. Brooks is second in the district in scoring behind Navasota receiver Austin Collins’ 15 scores. With a minimum of two games remaining, Brooks needs just 252 yards to crack the 1,000-yard barrier.
• James David turned in another oustanding game with 18 tackles from the middle linebacker spot. Austin Caffey and Markus Hayes logged 10 each. David leads the Tigers in tackles on the season with 113 to Hayes’ 108.
• Drevonne Walton had to wear jersey No. 21 Friday night because his normal No. 2 could not be found. Walton responded with a breakout game of three catches for 93 yards, a team high.
• Caldwell’s surprising victory (its first of the season) over Taylor has thrown the District 18-3A race into a state of flux. Rockdale’s playoff possibilities are still solid and would take this entire section to explain, but it would be advantageous if Madisonville won out against Caldwell this week and Taylor the next.
• The Tigers continue to get healthier, but may have lost versatile offensive lineman Michael Young to a knee injury. The sophomore has started at two positions on the line and been named the lineman of the week twice. Markus Hayes and Dailynn Ramey are still nursing sore shoulders. Receiver/ defensive back William Dean (wrist) and lineman Dedric Page (concussion) returned to action Friday. Lineman Justin Offield is still out with an ankle injury.
• Fifty years ago, the Tigers knocked off Navasota 33-8 on their march to the state championship game when they were members of the same district. The first time the two schools played was 1935.
• Stephen Hinojosa and Javante Gates have left the team.
lineman of the week