By Chuck Williams
Corsicana Daily Sun
It’s been one of those years. Well, actually, it hasn’t been one of those years. This Tiger football season is unprecedented since my days of official journalism began. I have never been here. I have never sat in front of the keyboard faced with subject matter with only a single Week 3 win after eight weeks of football.
What to write? The silver lining? Hemingway couldn’t come up with a silver lining based strictly on wins, losses and playoff possibilities, but an old Corsicana boy can come up with the answer to the question posed many times by many folks since Friday night in Lindale. What are you going to write about?
I remember a young freshman that made a pretty darn good Subway sandwich telling me a few years ago as he washed bread pans that the coaches said he would probably be starting at corner ... for the varsity. I knew the kid was talented, but I kind of grinned at the thought of him starting for a team that was fresh off a two-deep run in the playoffs with some talent coming back. That freshman did play corner, and led the team in interceptions and interceptions returned for touchdowns. That team went 7-3 in the regular season. Today you know him as quarterback Devontay Bell.
Prior to his freshman season, I watched him carve up defenses at the seventh and eighth grade levels, where he played running back. He was also a pretty good defender too. He was on a Joe Allen-coached seventh grade team that didn’t lose a game.
Bell’s freshmen season ended at the hands of an incredible performance by an incredibly gifted quarterback who could scramble and run. He played for Bastrop and his name was Josiah Monroe. He basically single-handedly ended the Tigers 2010 playoff run before it began. I think Monroe played a pivotal role in Bell’s next position switch. I can’t prove it, but I’m betting former head coach Phil Castles reviewed the tape, thought about the quarterback position in 2011, called then quarterbacks coach Shade Boulware into his office and the plan was born to migrate Bell from corner to quarterback.
It was a fantastic plan. The “glory days” syndrome kicks in, but the move was the first one that was a giant catalyst for that tremendous semifinal run in 2011, when the Tigers went 13-2. The kid playing his third position in three years was the sophomore signal caller surrounded by a great group of seniors on their way to the Region II championship.
Last year was a disappointment for Bell. His season ended with a knee injury during Week 3. He rehabilitated. He worked all off-season to come back. He made it back for 2013.
Each week in 2013, you could see his confidence grow, the patented cuts more prevalent as each week passed. He rushed for 242 yards, scored one touchdown and threw for two more in the loss against Lindale last Friday.
The wins and losses haven’t come as he’d hoped. The season isn’t going the way he planned. Disney didn’t write this script. Someone bigger did and the Tigers are 1-6 with two to go.
What to write? In my years of covering this team, there have been many great wins. But what I take away from it are stories like Bell, watching him grow from a seventh grader to a senior, watching him switch positions multiple times, watching his growth and watching him deal with the frustrations of the last two seasons. Frustrations that will prepare him for the next step. Wins are fun, no doubt. Wins are the backbone of the tradition of Corsicana football. You can’t attend a game or read a story without hearing about them.
But wins are more than District 16-4A. This program produced Coach John Griggs. He’s a winner. This program produced Houston Texan Danieal Manning. He’s a winner. This program produced banker and KAND color man Rusty Hitt. He’s a winner. This program produced that big fella that blocks for Peyton Manning. His name is Louis Vasquez and he is a winner. And David Hawthorne, the Saints linebacker. Winner. The list could fill up a week’s worth of papers.
To Bell and his senior classmates, play hard these next two games and let the playoff slots fall where they may. There are many ways to win, just make sure you keep trying long after the shoulder pads are put away.