By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
One game. One shot. One last chance.
That’s what the Corsicana Tigers are looking at this week when they travel to Jacksonville to play the final game of their football season. The Tigers (1-7, 0-4 in District 16-4A) were officially eliminated from the playoffs a week ago and wrap up a frustrating season on Friday.
Still, there’s plenty to play for.
“It’s a big game,’’ Corsicana Coach Steve Hoffman said this week. “It’s the last game for our seniors and they want to go out with a win. We want to go out and end the season with a win.
“I think it’s important for us to end on a winning note,’’ he said. “I know it’s important to the seniors.’’
It’s a huge game for Jacksonville, which is winless this season.
“It is a big game for them,’’ Hoffman said. “It’s an important game for us because we want to win to kick off our offseason. Going into the offseason with a win would mean a lot.’’
Hoffman didn’t have much of an offseason last year. He wasn’t hired until April and he has had to play catch-up since he has been in Corsicana. His kids had to learn a new offense and defense and the growing pains were evident on the field, where Corsicana’s offense was unstoppable at times, but the Tigers struggled defensively all year and it cost them a trip to the playoffs.
Last year both Corsicana and Jacksonville reached the playoffs but the combination of the emergence of Nacogdoches and Lindale, which beat Jacksonville 59-55 last week with a TD pass with 6.5 seconds left in the game, and Corsicana’s up-and-on defense shut the door on the Tigers, who had high expectations in August.
It’s been a hard luck season at Corsicana. Just consider this: Had Jacksonville hung on and beaten Lindale last week, Corsicana would still have had a chance to get into the playoffs with a win on Friday, because that would have forced a three-way tie for the fourth spot in the district.
But not much has gone right for the snake-bit Tigers. They lost tailback Tray Owens, who set a school record, rushing for 467 yards against Sulphur Springs, on the second play of the district season when Owens suffered a ankle injury. He had gained 823 yards in his previous two games, but didn’t play in any district games other than his two carries against Tyler.
Donavan Fields took over and had some huge games before suffering an ankle injury against Lindale on a night when he ran for 244 yards. Fields ran sparingly in last week’ loss to No.3-ranked Whitehouse, and freshman Victor Wilkerson made his varsity debut. Wilkerson scored on a 19-yard TD run and rushed for 51 yards on six carries. You can expect to see more of him against Jacksonville.
“Absolutely,’’ Hoffman said. “He did a real good job. He’s a talented young man and we want to get him some more carries. But Donavan is healthier this week and we want to make sure he gets his carries.’’
Friday will be the final game for Corsicana quarterback Devontay Bell, who led the Tigers to the state semifinals as a sophomore before missing most of his junior season with an torn ACL he suffered in the third game.
Bell, who has also played cornerback, has had some remarkable moments this year and has rushed for 457 yards over his last two games.
“He’s had a great year,’’ Hoffman said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s a special player. He wants to go out with a win.’’
To beat Jacksonville, Corsicana’s defense is going to have to find a way to stop quarterback Carter McCowan, who is coming off a career-night against Lindale. McGowan ran for 253 yards and threw for 360 yards for a 613-yard night.
“They’re putting the ball in the air a lot,’’ Hoffman said. “Their quarterback has thrown the ball 103 times over the last two games, and he can run, too. He’s a big kid, about 6-3 and he throws the ball well. The last couple of games they have kind of turned him loose. We just have to go out and try to contain him.’’
Hoffman would like to see some strong finishes to drives. The Tigers have been haunted the last two weeks with long drives that end just short of the end zone.
“We’ve got to be able to punch it in when we have the opportunities. We have to take advantage of the opportunities.’’
It has been an uneven season for Corsicana, and a win on the final night of the regular season would go a long way to heal what’s left of this year and even a longer way to building the future.
Corsicana at Jacksonville
7:30 p.m. Friday
At Tomato Bowl Stadium
RECORDS: Class 4A Corsicana 1-7, 0-4 in District 16-4A. Class 4A Jacksonville is 0-9 and 0-4. .
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Corsicana: RB Victor Wilkerson, WR/P Hector Calvillo, QB Devontay Bell, RB Donavan Fields. Jacksonville: QB Carter McCown WR Tony Lane, WR Trent Sansom, RB Braylon Parrish. .
UPDATE: It’s the final game for both teams ... a year ago both teams reached the playoffs .. Corsicana won last year’s season finale 35-25 with a 10-0 fourth quarter ... Ryan Condley kicked two field goals (36 and 22) in that game and McCown had a big day for Jacksonville, throwing for 207 yards ... he threw for 360 and two TDs and ran for 253 yards and four TDs in last week’s 59-55 loss to Lindale ... Corsicana is coming off a 45-14 loss to Whitehouse .. Bell ran for 185 yards in that game and has rushed for 429 yards in his last two games ... both teams have been burned this season defensively ... Jacksonville has allowed 433 points in nine games (48.11 points per game) ... Corsicana has given up 387 in eight games (48.37 points per game) ... the over-under on this game would be 100.
— Mike Phillips