Second-year Rockdale offensive coordinator Hunter Hamrick will have the chance to play puppet master during the 2013 season with newcomer Clayton Gibbs under center and engineering a new offensive style.
With speed that was good enough to set a school record for stolen bases for the Tiger baseball team last season, the versatile Gibbs—replacing threeyear starter Ethan Brinkley—will give the Tigers the opportunity to join the ‘zone read’ fray, which is all the offensive rage these days.
Both Hamrick and head coach Jeff Miller are oozing with confidence when it comes to the newest fad in offenses and their new range boss.
• RHS is 56-42-3 in season openers all-time, dating back to 1910.
• The Tigers are 5-2 under Jeff Miller in season openers and had won five straight before 2011’s loss to Abilene Wylie. The Tigers are 4-3 in home openers under Miller. From 1970-78, the Tigers captured nine straight season openers.
• Entering his eighth season here, only one coach has roamed the sidelines longer than Miller: Casey Creghan (1994-03).
• The Tigers are 6-4 in season openers in the past 10 years and are 11-8-1 in the past 20 years in season openers.
• The Tigers were 3-2 last season at home and are 17-9 in the past four seasons at Tigerland Field.
• According to Texas HS Football.com, Rockdale is 470-428- 27 all-time in football.
• The Tigers haven’t won a district title since 1999, the last of consecutive crowns.
•Last season marked the 15th time the Tigers have finished second in district play.
• Should the Tigers make the playoffs this season, it would give Miller six playoff appearances which would tie him with Casey Creghan’s school record six post-season trips.
• Miller needs eight wins to reach 80 for his career. This season marks Miller’s 21st as a coach, 13 as a head coach. 2011 marked just the third time he had missed the playoffs.
• In MIller’s seven seasons here, the Tigers have lost to nine teams that have either played in the state championship game or won state, including two last season (Cameron and Navasota).
• Under the current playoff format, the Tigers would have made the playoffs for eight straight years from 1973-80.
“He’s a leader and very intelligent,” says Miller, “great overall athlete. We have nothing but confidence in him that he will have a great year for us.”
“Clayton is a typical dual threat quarterback, although it doesn’t take a whole lot of running ability to operate in this type of offense,” Hamrick said. “Most people don’t know, but we did similar things with Ethan a year ago. Quite a few of his short completions, there was a run play attached to it, and he was reading the defense and reacting accordingly.
“In order to do this offense you just have to have the ability to understand who’s open and how to get the ball to that person. We aren’t reinventing anything.”
There are inside zone reads and outside zone reads where blocking patterns are just as important as what the quarterback sees.
“We have the ability to block zone or power and read any defensive lineman or linebacker,” said Hamrick. “Clayton has either a quarterback run or pass option depending on play. We have multiple play concepts where he makes decisions before the ball is even snapped to hand the ball off or throw a pass.”
Hamrick estimates that 60 to 65 percent of the Tiger offense includes a paired play of some sort.
“There are times where you might look on as a spectator to see a wide receiver not ready to block for a running back, but in actuality he is running a pass route. These options give our offense the opportunity to be in the right play regardless of what the defense gives us.”
The zone read emphasizes the run and with Elijah Brooks (1,045 yards in 2012) and Dailynn Ramey (841 career yards) in the backfield, the Tigers have plenty of punch.
Changes are plentiful at Salado as the Eagles feature a new coach in Brent Graham who has yet to chalk up his first win as a head coach.
Graham, 34, takes over for Glenn Talbott who resigned after an 8-22 mark in three years.
Graham, who was the defensive coordinator at Sherman the past four years and also coached at Tulsa, inherits a 2-8 team with 12 starters among 21 returning seniors.
Another major change for Salado is at quarterback. Two-year starter Ryan Simmons (1,500 yards passing, 900 yards rushing, 30 touchdowns) will shift over to running back, while newcomer McLane Carter—a move-in from state runnerup Gilmer—will slide under center.
Simmons (5-11, 200) has been a Tiger-tamer in the past two seasons, rolling up 620 yards of total offense with six touchdowns in two games.
Salado, which shares a district with defending state champion Cameron, has not made a playoff appearance since 2007, also its last winning campaign. The year before, they went 13-1.
“I’m really not even worried about last year or worried about anything from the past,” Graham said. “We have new coaches. We have new strengths. We have new players stepping up that I haven’t seen and they’re making plays. We just have to play. It doesn’t matter who it is. We’re trying to win ball games.”
“With some new blood in there they’ll be fired up and ready to play,” Miller said. “Despite thei record, I know they have some athletes running around there because they were the Lone Star Cup champions in Class 2A.”
Despite the fact that Salado is in Class 2A and Rockdale is in Class 3A, Salado currently has a larger enrollment than Rockdale.
Rockkdale leads the series 5-0- 1 and defeated the Eagles 35-21 last season in Salado. In 2011, the Tigers fought from behind to defeat Salado 51-42.
• The Milam County connection is already at work as former Rockdale quarterback Ethan Brinkley threw a touchdown pass to ex-Milano star Dominique Messer during West Texas A&M’s scrimmage.
• For the first time in Miller’s eight seasons here, there are no sophomores on the roster.
• Show your spirit Rockdale businesses. Paint the town blue and gold. The Rockdale Tiger Booster Club is asking you to help showcase Tiger spirit. Judging will take place Tuesday mornings, beginning Sept. 3.
To enter the weekly contests please email firstname.lastname@example.org on Monday evenings.
salado at Rockdale
What: Salado Eagles at Rockdale Tigers. Season Opener.
Where: Tigerland Field (1,850
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Favorite: Rockdale by 18.
Last year: Rockdale won
Series record: Rockdale leads
District outlook: Salado is
picked 6th in District 13-2A,
Division I (Cameron, Lago
Vista, McGregor, Marlin, Troy,
Eagle to watch: No. 10 RB