By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
NACOGDOCHES — Admit it, you missed that feeling you had all weekend. The satisfaction that comes with a Tiger victory. New-found optimism.
It’s like the season has started over.
Tigers 28, Nacogdoches 7. Success in the Pineywoods. A safe trip home through the winding East Texas roads.
You can bet there will be a different step for the coaches and players at practice this week. The Tigers went to Nac-a-nowhere, cured a lot of their ills and look now like they’re going somewhere.
Corsicana is back on the playoff path.
“It’s good medicine,” Tigers coach Phil Castles said. “We’ve played well at times. It’s good to see some fruit from it.”
The Tigers didn’t play a perfect game. There were too many penalties and a 13-7 halftime lead should have been more. The Tigers let a winless Dragons team hang around too long, and Corsicana was endanger of falling behind if not for a goal line stand.
The defense was there to save the day.
High school football is all about offense these days as it gets more and more difficult for defenses to impact the game.
But it can be done and the Tigers won with defense Friday night. Start with five takeaways. The Tigers had 10 in six games coming into Nacogdoches.
Turnovers have become the key to getting defenses off the field these days. The Tigers thwarted five Dragon drives with takeaways.
There were three interceptions as the Corsicana secondary played its best game of the season. Alonzo Gipson and Tenery Walker ruined Nacogdoches drives with interceptions.
Then there was freshman Tray Owens, who had an interception and at least two other pass breakups.
“Our secondary played well,” Castles said. “It was a coming out game for (Owens).”
On offense, the Tigers made the plays when they needed them. Penalties put them off schedule a lot, and they’ll need to clean them up (though they might not run into a more “involved” officiating crew the rest of the season).
The offense is still a work in progress, but getting better. The Tigers are experimenting on as they should. Ernest Lewis was a late-game battering ram and will get more carries. Zach Rash is getting it done at quarterback.
The coaches challenged the players at halftime to eliminate the mistakes, and they were finally able to do so with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
It went well with a defense playing its best game of the season. The Tigers are growing up.
“The kids executed well,” Castles said. “We made some adjustments. We’re just now getting to the point where we can do some game time adjustments.”
The Tigers responded to the pressure of their season basically being on the line in Nacogdoches.
It was a season-defining win in Nacogdoches. The Tigers departed the Pineywoods a new team.
A winning team.
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Sports editor Todd Wills can be reached at