Tiger togetherness made the 2013 season special

BILL MARTIN

The 2013 Rockdale Tigers had so many factors stacked up against them from day one, it would be easy to stick them with a catchy moniker like, “team least likely to.”

An unproven quarterback. New defensive coordinator. Their best player coming off career-threatening knee surgery. A treacherous schedule —that included two reigning state champions—that would make Mac Brown stop clapping in horror.

However, along the time they were sitting there at 1-3 and dragging a three game losing streak around their necks, the Tigers decided to make a season of it.

“Going into the year we thought we could be pretty good, but there was still a lot of unknowns and the unknown is always scary,” Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller said. “When we settled on our starters, we felt like all 22 positions had the possibility of having a good season.

“Once they started playing together and playing as a unit, that’s when good things started happening.”


Tiger coach Jeff Miller had plenty to cheer about in 2013. Tiger coach Jeff Miller had plenty to cheer about in 2013. After opening the season with a win over Salado, the Tigers stumbled against Burnet, Cameron and Liberty Hill.

They played their worst game of the season against a very good Burnet squad, coupled with the worst officiated game I’ve witnessed in three decades of doing this.

They had their foot on Cameron’s neck before letting them up. Liberty Hill was the one game they just weren’t going to win.

“We put that schedule together to challenge us and make us better. You do that with the danger of losing confidence, however.”

“We were sitting there 1-3 and never gave up. We responded by going out and made a heck of a run.”

The most memorable play of the year for Miller is the “Hail Mary” touchdown pass as the clock ticked down at halftime against Lorena.

“We had to win the first playoff game to get on a roll. We had dominated them in the first half, just like we had done last year, but they scored right before the half, just like last year.

“I was worried about momentum, but that score gave us the boost to go ahead and win the game.”

And win they did, 55-28, sending the 1-loss Leopards home for the winter. They also disposed of another 1-loss team in Coldspring two weeks later.

“The way they performed in the last seven or eight weeks was phenomenal. We never had a letdown until Fairfield.

“Nothing breeds confidence like success.”

While this was the Tigers most successful run in almost 40 years, this was also a high water mark for Miller the coach, who had never gotten past the second round previously.

“During the season, everything goes by so fast, you’re just focusing on the next game and the next team. You have a small period of time to enjoy it.

“After the season is when you get to enjoy what’s good and what you have accomplished.

“The loss Friday was such a let down, such a disappointment— we were going to go play for a state title. But now, we can sit back and enjoy what we’ve done together.”

As can we all.


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2013-12-12 digital edition



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