By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
After Friday night’s 34-24 victory over Jacksonville, one that reminded us once again why character and desire matter, I stopped briefly by the fieldhouse before going back to the paper.
I don’t get to do this much now. Not at all this season. Because we produce a Saturday morning sports section again, our Friday night deadline is intense. It’s pretty much write and run.
But I did make a point of stopping by Friday, mainly to congratulate the coaches and players on a great win. There’s just something about winning the last regular season game and the good feeling it gives everyone heading into the playoffs.
Of course, the locker room was a ghost town. The players and coaches were in a meeting room eating their post-game meal.
All that were left were head coach Phil Castles, who was on the phone going over this week’s playoff site with Red Oak, and his son Calan.
That was enough. We spoke of the good feeling after the win, of Ryan Condley’s two field goals, the passing of Zach Rash, the fourth-quarter defense and more.
It was as proud as I’ve seen Castles after any win in his four years as coach, including last year’s playoff run.
“That was a good football team,” Castles said of Jacksonville. “They had good athletes. It was nice to play well because we needed to for us to win.”
The Tigers will take a 4-6 record into the playoffs. Trust me, a losing record isn’t what you want to see by your school’s name when you check out the playoff pairings in the paper. Coach, player, whoever.
And of all of Castles’ teams, this one has the most doubters. From the fan who sits in the stands to the one in a restaurant who tears down this football team. I was told by a few people Friday night that there are doubters among classmates, that the current players were even hearing from some who wore a Tigers jersey at the start of the season that they couldn’t beat Jacksonville, not without them.
Well they did. And they did it by playing hard. By playing together. And by making plays.
I say this is a team we should all appreciate. Especially the one that played Friday night. The Tiger team that has had to deal with as much adversity as any high school football team I’ve covered.
Castles wanted his players to hear that as they met on the field after the game. Our Chuck Williams writes about it at the end of his Point After Column.
Castles told his players he was proud of them for sticking out the season.
I asked him why Monday.
“I wanted to re-illustrate the reward for hanging in there,” Castles said. “Good things happen when you keep working and keep believing. It was a good time to remind them. They finally got a little bit of that (reward).”
Who knows if the Tigers can beat Red Oak on Friday night. This is a much different Corsicana team from the one that lost to the Hawks 34-31 way back in September.
The one now is a team of survivors. Tough to doubt that kind of group.