By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Whatever the level, NFL or high school, the knee-jerk reaction when it comes to rematches is the loser in Round 1 has the advantage the second time around.
See Cowboys-Giants. Or Alabama-LSU last year.
Look no further than boxing, where Muhammad Ali won the second fight — and the historic third — after losing round one, “The Fight of Century,” to Joe Frazier.
Same for Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed.
Anyway, everyone has a theory about rematches. Tigers coach Phil Castles isn’t one of them.
“I don’t get into that stuff,” Castles said Wednesday. “You hope so (that we’re better). They’re playing pretty good football too. They’ve played some good teams and they beat them. We’ve both gotten better.”
So how does 34-31 Red Oak over Corsicana on Sept. 8 factor into Friday night’s Region II-4A DI bi-district playoff game at friendly Midlothian MISD Multi-Purpose Stadium?
Ask Red Oak coach Mike Shields and he says a lot. He had to watch his team bolt out to a 34-0 lead in that game only to watch the Tigers rally. Corsicana stole the momentum and had the ball in Hawks territory with a chance to take the lead before a fourth-down pass by Corsicana’s Devontay Bell fell incomplete.
“You know how it is,” said Shields, who is prone to coach-speak and telling an opposing beat writer what they want to hear. “It’s hard to beat a team twice. Corsicana has nothing to lose and we have the pressure on us.
“We have to have the kids focused,” Shields said. “You can be sure Castles is talking about the first game.”
Since that game, Red Oak has picked up big wins, including a 17-0 shutout of Lancaster, which was ranked No. 2 in the state at the time. The Hawks only lost to Ennis in 15-4A play, also picking up an emotional win over Ellis County rival Waxahachie.
Red Oak’s 1-2 rushing punch of tailback Cameron Bausley and Jeremiah Gaines and a very good offensive line have sparked a great season for the Hawks. Bausley has 1,363 yards and averages 7.3 yards per carry.
Gaines, a 235-pound force of nature who has verbally committed to SMU, has gained 601 yards on 51 carries.
Red Oak found balance with their backs against Corsicana. Gaines had 131 yards on eight carries, three of them going for touchdowns. Bausley had 125 yards on 25 carries but didn’t find the end zone.
Gaines’ 58-yard touchdown run with 9:30 left in the third quarter gave Red Oak a 34-0 lead. Then the Hawks’ offense went silent.
The Tigers scored four unanswered touchdowns and converted three two-point conversions. Donovan Fields had a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown. Breyon Hill recovered an onside kick with 4:39 left in the game after five attempts by the Tigers had failed before that.
With all of the momentum and a third-and-one at the Red Oak 38, the Tigers stalled. Gaines, in at linebacker for one of his few plays on defense, stuffed a sweep play. Then Bell’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Of course, the Tigers are a different team now. Bell is out, and senior Zach Rash is coming off of a splendid game, passing for 142 yards and a touchdown in a 35-25 victory over Jacksonville last week. Ronnie Devearux is the feature back and comes in off of a 190-yard game against the Indians.
The defense has regrouped and has played better in three of the last four games of the season.
“It’s a different look for us now that we have to get ready for,” Shields said.
Maybe the Tigers do have an advantage, with revenge on their side and knowing what adjustments need to be made from the first game.
But Castles cautions that Red Oak isn’t the same team now either. The Hawks have big wins on their side, and if the Tigers get momentum this time around, Red Oak isn’t likely to sag like it did last time.
“They play with a lot of confidence and they don’t give up leads,” Castles said.
What will give in this rematch?
We’ll know soon.
Region II-4A DI Bi-district
Corsicana vs. Red Oak
7:30 p.m. Friday
At Midlothian’s MISD Multi-Purpose Stadium
RADIO: KAND-AM 1340 (5:30 p.m. pregame show)
RECORDS: District 16-4A DI No. 2 seed Corsicana is 4-6. District 15-4A DI No. 1 seed Red Oak is 7-3.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Corsicana: QB Zach Rash, RB Ronnie Devearux, WR Ashton Newsome, DE Jarrett Hall, DE Darius Watson. Red Oak: QB Austin VanHove, RB Cameron Bausley, FB/LB Jeremiah Gaines, DB Hunter Gonzalez, LB Josh Fisher.
UPDATE: The Tigers make their 42nd playoff appearance and their fourth consecutive trip to the postseason ... they are 51-39 in the postseason for a .567 winning percentage ... the Tigers are 16-13 in first-round playoff games going back to 1970 ... they’ve won 11 of their last 17 bi-district games ... The Tigers have won 24 bi-district trophies dating back to 1930, according to lonestarfootball.net ... Corsicana is 9-2 against Red Oak dating back to 1970 with the losses coming in 2007 (35-34) and this season (34-31) ... the Tigers trailed 34-0 in that game on Sept. 8 before rallying for four TDs and three two-point conversions before their furious comeback attempt fell short ... it was the last game where injured QB Devontay Bell played all four quarters ... Rash took over for him the next week against Forney after Bell injured his knee ... Rash has moved up to sixth in the Golden Circle in passing, completing 46 of 97 passes for 656 yards and 10 TDs ... he’s thrown only two INTs ... Devearux became the Tigers leading rusher last week, getting up to 690 yards on 109 carries ... WR Bobby Wallace has 21 receptions for 345 yards ... Newsome leads the Tigers with four TD catches ... LB Cedric Weaver leads the Tigers in tackles ... Red Oak last won a bi-district game in 2007 and before that you have to go back to 1984 for one, according to lonestarfootball.com ... the Hawks have a terrific season going, the highlight a 17-0 win over No. 2 Lancaster ... VanHove has completed 69 of 127 attempts for 1,888 yards, 16 TDs and seven INTs ... Gaines is Red Oak’s leading receiver with 22 catches for 505 yards ... he’s sixth in The Dallas Morning News area leaders in scoring with 116 points on 19 TDs and a two-point conversion ... Red Oak averages 383.5 yards per game on offense ... the Hawks allowed 304.4 yards per game, 150.1 rushing per game and 154.3 passing per game ... Red Oak allows 22.6 points a game.
— Todd Wills