Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

October 10, 2012

Tiger Football Week 6: Everything counts

Tigers start 16-4A slate against No. 3 Tyler

Corsicana — The Tigers have enjoyed two weeks of getting healthy and putting in extra work on the practice field as they get ready for the five most important games of the season — the District 16-4A schedule.

That’s a good thing because it’s not an easy beginning. After playing a brutal non-district schedule that included Class 5A Denton Ryan and rival Waxahachie, the Tigers (1-4) begin district against the state’s No. 3-ranked team, Tyler John Tyler (4-1).

It’s a daunting task, as was expected when UIL realignment was announced in the spring.

“They’re the best team we’ve seen,” said Castles of the Lions, who just like the Tigers reached the state semifinals last season.

Castles went on to say that in his 44 games as the Tigers’ coach, he puts John Tyler in the Top 3 teams Corsicana has played. The Lions join an elite group that includes 2011 state champion Aledo — which ended the Tigers season last year — and the 2009 Waco Midway Panthers.

Midway was ranked No. 3 in the state in Castles’ first season when Corsicana pulled off a huge upset at Floyd Casey Stadium. Can Castles and the Tigers do it again Friday night at Tiger Stadium?

The Tigers, who will have to play their best game to date, should be healed up from non-district. And the extra work the offense has put in with quarterback Zach Rash also should help Corsicana against a solid Tyler defense.

“Our kids have worked hard,” Castles said. “They have positive attitudes. It’s a brand new season.”

The Tiger defense needs to be fresh and ready against a talented John Tyler offense that averages 26.4 points. That might not sound like an explosive group, but don’t be fooled. One rival coach said this summer that John Tyler is “DeSoto East,” comparing the Lions to the state’s No. 2 5A team.

Tyler has an array of offensive weapons from senior quarterback Greg Ward, who has verbally committed to Houston, and receiver Fred Ross, committed to Oklahoma State.

It doesn’t stop there. There’s Dequante Woods at receiver. Darion Flowers is a standout wideout and defensive back. Tyus Bowser plays receiver and defensive end. Jeremy Wilson and Reggie Gipson are dangerous running backs and can catch passes too.

“Ross is one of the best receivers in the state,” Tyler coach Ricklan Holmes said. “And he’s not the only one. Flowers, Wiggins, Woods, Gipson. They give a lot of different options for Greg.”

Tyler hasn’t missed a step after Holmes took over as head coach in May for Dereck Rush, who departed for Conroe Oakridge. Holmes, who was on the Lions’ staff, said Rush helped prepare him for this moment.

Tyler did lose to No. 2 Lancaster 26-21 in early September on the road, so the Tigers can be optimistic about that. But Holmes also benched two players by his own decision for that game to send his entire team a message.

Tyler has responded with wins over Tyler Lee, Mesquite Horn and Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

“We’re doing all of the things we need to be doing at this time to win a district championship,” Holmes said. “We’ve shown improvement. We’re getting ready for a tough stretch of district games.”

The Tigers will need a big effort on defense. Defensive end Jarrett Hall and linebackers Jacob Grayson and Cedric Weaver have to keep making plays. Linebacker D’Eriq Jordan needs to keep up his improvement. And so on.

Corsicana played in a nine-team district the last two years, so it’s strange that the second week in October brings a game that truly matters. It’s been odd for the coaches and the players, but they say they’re ready.

“It doesn’t seem possible that we haven’t started district,” Castles said.

It’s here now.

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