Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

July 11, 2014

Phillips: A year in the Can

Looking back on my first year in Corsicana

Corsicana — Whew!

That went fast.

Hard to believe I recently celebrated my first year in Corsicana.

It's impossible to go over a year of memories in one column because there are so many that rush at me at once.

I got here just in time to celebrate the reunion of the 1963 Corsicana Tiger football team in what is still one of my best nights as a sports writer — of this year or any year.

You can't be around the men who played on that team without admiring what they did and who they are, and respect the way they feel about that magical ride in the Blue Goose and how they feel about each other.

Those feelings are at the heart of high school sports, and how they stay with you for a lifetime. Games and moments really do last forever in sports, and I honestly believe they run deeper and are so much richer in high school.

I've covered just about everything in pro sports, and still feel that way. No one believes me when I tell them I had more fun covering the Kerens LadyCats and their playoff run to the Class 1A state title game than I had the year I covered the Miami Heat.

Honest, it's true.

I loved covering pro and college sports, but it has never compared to covering town-ball, and there's no better place to cover town-ball than in Texas.

I still hold a special place in my heart for the Cayuga baseball team, the Palestine boys' basketball team and the Grapeland Sandiettes basketball teams of the early 1980s when I began my career at the Palestine Herald Press.

I've got long list of high school teams that I fell in love with in my years in Georgia, and now I've got a new list of Texas teams to add to the list.

In the end, it's all about people, and I've met so many wonderful and gracious people in one year here and can't think of a bad moment covering sports for the Daily Sun.

I'm still mad about the state title game that the Kerens girls lost (I use the word lost because I still believe they were robbed), and the Hubbard girls softball team captured my heart on their run to Austin.

Then there were the Dawson boys and their “Hold the Rope” march to the state baseball tournament in Round Rock. When the Dawson fans started chanting “Hold The Rope” in the region final game against Trenton in Saginaw, it gave me goosebumps.

There's nothing like those runs in the playoffs, those hold-your-breath runs that capture everyone in the school and the community. Trust me, when the community jumps onboard for the ride it changes everything.

I've seen it in the World Series and at Super Bowls when the city catches fire for its team, and that's its own chapter in Americana. That's exciting and can be heart-rendering. But it's just different when it's town-ball.

Those Dawson kids on the diamond – that's Dawson, the kids, the parents, the town — and they're playing for everyone and everyone gets a ride of a lifetime.

It was the same with Kerens and Hubbard and with all the teams in the Golden Circle, because they are playing for so much more.

Take a look at that sea of green that showed up in Austin to see the LadyCats represent Kerens, where everybody bleeds Kelly Green for the teams that represent the high school there.

I've never covered any team at any time that had the resolve and determination those Kerens girls had. They just didn't talk about “Unfinished Business.” Those words became far more than a slogan or motto — they became their identity as the Kerens kids played an unrelenting brand of basketball that just blew teams off the court.

The Hubbard softball team had its own burning desire in the playoffs and the comeback wins and pressure-cooker games just made those kids want it and appreciate it that much more.

My favorite moments are when Dawson beat Trenton to reach the state tournament and when Hubbard, which had lost on Friday night in China Spring, came back and won back-to-back games in a doubleheader to beat Bosqueville to reach the state softball tournament.

And of course, my favorite moment had to be when Kerens beat Martin's Mill in Tyler to reach the state tournament. The build-up to that game and all the revenge and pain Kerens took into a game against the defending state champs and the school that had beaten Kerens at state two years earlier made it the game of the year for me.

I couldn't have been happier for the kids and the town when Kerens won.

I had the same feelings for the Dawson baseball team and Hubbard's softball team. Those playoff runs highlighted my first year. It was so much fun to be a part of it. Don't tell Raymond Linex, but I should have paid him to cover those games.

The playoff runs and the '63 Tigers were the highlights, but there were a ton of other moments.

Watching Tyler Ellis kick his 48-yard field goal with seven seconds left to lift Blooming Grove over Jacksboro and give the Lions their first playoff win since 1977 was priceless. It goes hand in hand with  covering Corsicana's girls basketball team that won 20 games and reached the playoffs for the first time in 23 years.

I don't even have words for covering Corsicana's baseball team. What a great, scrappy bunch of kids, and just being around Heath Autrey is a joy. He's a baseball man from head to toe and a great teacher of the game.

Football is a different animal, and I love everything about Texas high school football. It was a tough year for most of the Golden Circle teams, but it was a great year for me getting to know the coaches and players.

I still can't believe the Navarro softball team didn't win a national title, and I still believe if the Bulldogs women's soccer team had played the title game on a dry field that Debbie Bonner's kids would have been the national champs.

I can guarantee you they will win it all this year.

I'm already excited about the upcoming football season. It's hard to realize I covered a game where the final was 77-65, and even more unbelievable is that Tray Owens rushed for 467 yards that night.

Football always produces everlasting moments.

Just like my first year in Corsicana ...

1
Text Only
Sports
  • 7-30-14 Davis.jpg Former Cowboy Keith Davis delivers motivational speech

    Keith Davis believes in dreams.
    He lived his.
    That was one of the messages Davis, a former Dallas Cowboys safety, delivered to a standing-room-only crowd of youngsters Tuesday at the Boys & Girls Club, where he spoke with enthusiasm and energy about life inside and outside of the NFL.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-30 web Wortham TTBA picture.jpg TTBB: Wortham takes second at state tournament

    The Wortham Bulldogs made an impressive run at the Texas Teenage Baseball Association High School Eligible State Tournament in Buffalo and took second in the state.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29-14 tiger sharks.jpg Tiger Sharks make splash at state meet

    There are leaps and bounds, and then there's what the Corsicana YMCA Tiger Sharks did over the weekend at the Lone Star state swimming meet in Frisco.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-27 Shimonek all-star.jpg Mildred's Shimonek transferring from Iowa, will walk on at Texas Tech

    Former Mildred quarterback and Golden Circle Del Thrash Player of the Year Nic Shimonek is leaving the University of Iowa after one red-shirt year and transferring to Texas Tech because of Iowa's pro-style offense.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • RON MORGAN.jpg Morgan; Remembering House and a better era

    The Cowboys started training camp the same week that Robert Newhouse died.
    In a way, that’s very unfortunate for Jerry. Thinking back to the “Human Bowling Ball” and the teams of that era might lead to the inevitable comparisons to today’s product on the field.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • weights.jpg GC Football: Blooming Grove's Williams expects to win

    His father was a head coach for years at Pecos High and his brother-in-law is the head football coach at DeSoto, but Lawrence Williams Jr., a man who loves coaching football, never had any ideas about being the head man.
    “I love coaching,'' said Williams as he sat at his desk in Blooming Grove, where he became the Lions' head coach this summer. “I just never thought about being the head coach and I never applied to be a head coach. With this job I can still coach.''

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kevin Reese mug.jpg Outdoors: Kevin Reese: Summer time means summer tracking

    With only two months before opening day of archery season you should already have your bow maintenance complete, be shooting daily and chomping at the bit for our favorite day to arrive!
    Let’s face it, few animals turn our rotors like whitetail deer.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • All-State Baseball: Corsicana's Harlan and Wolver honored on TSWA/Collin Street Bakery 4A All-State Baseball team

    Corsicana junior Brady Harlan and sophomore Layton Wolver were honored on the Texas Sports Writers Association/Collin Street Bakery Class 4A All-State Baseball team that was announced Tuesday night.

    July 22, 2014

  • 7-23-14 Kayana.jpg Gymnastics: Kaylana Dickson celebrates national title with fans and her uncle David Hawthorne

    Kaylana Dickson got the name Bebop on her way to winning a national title in gymnastics this summer, and boy did it catch fire.
    Kaylana, a Corsicana native, picked up fans from all over the country and many bought Bebop T-shirts to help pay her expenses to Spokane, Wa., where she won the 8-and-under title in the double-mini trampoline event and finished third in floor exercise.
    More than 100 of her friends, family members and fans showed up at the Corsicana YMCA on Saturday to celebrate the national title and be on hand for a drawing for an autographed New Orleans Saints football jersey from David Hawthorne, a star defensive lineman for the Saints and Kaylana's uncle

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • All-State Baseball: TSWA/Collin Street Bakery All-State 3A baseball team is announced

    The Texas Sports Writers Association/Collin Street Bakery Class 3A All-State Baseball Team was announced Tuesday.

     

    July 22, 2014