All the marbles
For the past three seasons, Rockdale and Caldwell—who have played each other 57 times and have been hooked together in a district for 50 years—have faced each other in the final game of the regular season.
In 2010, a win propelled the Tigers into the playoffs. In 2011, a 49-34 shootout victory kept the Tigers out of the district cellar.
And, while it wasn’t the last day of the football calendar, the Tigers’ 28-14 victory at Caldwell in 2008 went a long way in cementing a playoff berth,
Fast-forward to 2012 and once again, playing Caldwell is not just another game.
The Hornets provide a gaunlet in front of a post-season possibility for the Tigers.
Caldwell at Rockdale
What: Rockdale Tigers (4-5, 1-2)
vs Caldwell Hornets (1-7, 1-2).
Where: Tigerland Stadium
(2,850 capacity, grass)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Favorite: Rockdale by 15.
Last week: Rockdale was idle;
Navasota 58, Caldwell 0.
Last year: Rockdale 49-34.
Series: Rockdale leads 30-26-1.
Hornet to watch: No. 16, So.
QB Brett Gilchrist.
The 1-7 Hornets already did Rockdale a favor by upsetting Taylor (which knocked off the Tigers) for their lone victory.
This matchup has trap game written all over it.
“There are two things that will keep us from underestemating Caldwell,” Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller said. “First, they are in the same boat as we are. Win and go to the playoffs. They are going to give us all they have. They are just as desperate to win as we are.
“Secondly, they beat a team that beat us (Taylor). They beat a very good football team. There is no danger of us being lax this week. We know what to expect.”
The Tigers have defeated Caldwell three of the last four years and Tiger fans should take some solice in this fact—they have won the last regular season game five years in a row and four of those were for a playoff spot.
The Tigers received some bad news last week as All-State linebacker James David has been lost for the year after tearing the ACL in his left knee.
The 6- foot- 2, 225- pound David injured his knee in the second quarter of the Navasota game two weeks ago and did not return.
David, who has drawn the interest of colleges all over the nation and has received an offer from Oklahoma, is scheduled to have surgery Thursday.
He will be replaced in the lineup by senior Kris Baldavia, who led the Tigers in tackles with 13 against Navasota.
David—who leads the Tigers in tackles this season—was also a starter on the Tiger basketball team.
In their last 20 games, the Hornets are 2-18 and are staring down the barrel of their second straight one-win season.
The Hornets are coached by former Cameron standout Kenneth Gilchrist—Caldwell’s third coach in three years.
The Caldwell program was in disarray after first-year coach Chance Locklear left to take a job at the new College Station high school and Gilchrist was not hired until May 1.
Gilchrist spent the last three seasons at Whitney where he went 11-19. He was a part of the staff at Lake Travis when it won its first of five state championthe ships in 2007.
He has inserted his son Brett at quarterback and the sophomore represents most of the Hornet offense, with 1,280 yards passing and 11 touchdowns.
Gilchrist’s favorite target is senior running back Caelin Goss who has hauled in 27 passes for 466 yards.
Caldwell has gained just 836 yards on the ground, most coming though Goss who has 349 yards rushing
No. 1 Navasota roasted the Hornets 58-0 Friday in Caldwell and the Hornets are allowing over 40 points a game as well as 500 yards per outing.
The Hornets have forced just four turnovers all season—two fumbles and two interceptions.
• As far as potential playoff opposition is concerned, District 17-4A is a big ol’ mess. First off, there is no dominate team. Five of the six teams have winning records and West (1-8, 0-4) is the only team out of the mix. Heading into Friday, three teams are tied for first with one loss (Lorena, La Vega, China Spring). Robinson (6-3, 1-3) dropped out of the picture after a double overtime loss to China Spring (6-3, 3-1). China Spring hosts Lorena (7-2, 3-1) and La Vega (6-3, 3-1) and Robinson battle. Connally (5-4,2-2) also has a chance while playing West. Should West and Connally win, your guess is as good as mine. Rockdale has recent history with Robinson and China Spring. Who can forget the heartbreaking 30-27 playoff loss to China Spring in 2007 on a last-second field goal.
• Speaking of big ol’ messes, District 26-3A has the possibility of having LaGrange win the league at 5-0 with the remaining five teams (Giddings, Smithville, Yoakum, Cuero, Gonzales) standing at 2-3. Can you say coin flip?
• If they defeat Caldwell, Jeff Miller will have led the Tigers to the playoffs five times, which ties him with Fred Johnson for second on the RHS list behind Casey Creghan’s six post-season trips in 10 years.
• If the Tigers defeat Caldwell and finish second in district, it will mark the 14th time they have finsihed as runnerup in league play and the fifth time in seven years under Miller.
• Center Ramsey Zinn is back in the starting lineup. The junior was expected to miss the entire season af ter suf fering a torn meniscus against Liberty Hill, the fourth game of the season. Pete Heintze has been subbing at center. Sophomore lineman Justin Offield (ankle) is expected to be available this week as well.
• Rockdale is 3-2 in Hall of Honor games.