Corsicana’s Tigers, the most schizophrenic football team in Texas, gets to start all over Friday night.
The question is: Which way will this team go?
The Tigers score points like a video game, but they’re 1-3 because they can’t stop the other guys.
That’s where they sit at the halfway point of the season with the opening night of District 16-4A coming Friday in Tyler, where they face a John Tyler team that began the season ranked in the Top 10 in the state.
“We’re not happy where we’re at,’’ Corsicana coach Steve Hoffman said this week. “We’re 1-3 and we feel we’re a better football team than that. We had a good bye week and worked hard, and we worked on our defense. We really went back to basics with our defense. We have not been a good tackling football team and we’ve got to tackle better. I expect our defense to play a lot better.’’
There’s no better time to turn a season around.
“It’s a new season,’’ Hoffman said. “We’re excited and the kids are excited about starting district. We’re starting all over. We’re 0-0.’’
So is John Tyler.
Well, in a way the Lions are 19-0. That’s JT’s record in its last 19 district games. The Lions haven’t lost a game in district since Oct. 30, 2009, and they were the co-favorites to win the 16-4A race in August when they were a preseason Top 10 team. An opening night 52-28 loss to Lufkin knocked them out of the state poll, and they enter Friday’s game with a 3-2 record after a 51-14 trouncing over a team from Mexico (Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon) in Tyler in their last game two weeks ago.
Corsicana scored 65 points in its last game _ and lost 77-65 in the highest scoring game in the school’s long and storied history. That’s what is keeping Hoffman up late at nights, trying to find a way to keep opponents out of the end zone.
His latest nightmare is JT’s quarterback Geovari McCollister, who can run, throw and light up the scoreboard. McCollister has completed 90 of 133 passes for 1,304 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“He’s big, about 5-2, 6-3 and 210 pounds,’’ Hoffman said. “He’s really dangerous running it, and he throws the ball well, too. He does a good job of scrambling and finding receivers downfield when things break down. He does a real good job. You can’t take a play off with him.’’
John Tyler has it’s own nightmare. You can bet the Lions and their coaches are worried about stopping Tray Owens, who has emerged as one of the best running backs in all of Class 4A football in the state. The sophomore who didn’t run the ball a year ago, is coming off a record-breaking 467-yard night against Sulphur Springs. Owens gained 356 yards against Forney in his previous game. That’s 823 yards in his last two complete games. Remember, the Waxahachie game was called off due to lightning in the second quarter. Owens gained 72 yards in Corsicana’s opening drive in that game, but the statistics were wiped out with the storm.
Owens, who has rushed for 1,054 yards on 114 carries (9.2 avg.) and 10 touchdowns, will be facing one of the best defenses he has seen this season and the biggest and most physical since opening night against Denton Ryan, which held Corsicana to seven points and Owens to 106 yards on 21 carries. Owens scored the only TD in a 38-7 loss.
“Their defense is really good,’’ Hoffman said of John Tyler. “They’re big and fast and they run to the ball real well. Their defense is more like Denton Ryan with their size. And they’re big on offense, too. John Tyler is a big challenge.’’
But it’s a game that could flip the switch for Corsicana’s high-throttle team that has scored 96 points in its last six quarters of play, going back to a 29-point second half against Forney.
Owens and quarterback Devontay Bell have led the way. Bell has rushed for 381 yards and has thrown for 362 yards and is a threat to break a long TD run every time he touches the ball.
“Our offense has gotten better every week,’’ Hoffman said. “TO (Owens) and Devontay have done a great job. I expect our defense to play better (the rest of the season).’’
That starts Friday.
“This is a big game. This is district. This is what we’re playing for,’’ Hoffman said.
“The kids are talking about being 0-0 and starting in district. This football team is as resilient as any team I’ve ever been around, and we’re starting over this week. We’ve got to bring it the next five weeks.’’
Corsicana at Tyler John Tyler
7:30 p.m. Friday
At Trinty Mother Frances Rose Stadium
RECORDS: Class 4A Corsicana 1-3, 0-0 in District 16-4A. Class 4A Tyler John Tyler 3-2, 0-0.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Corsicana: RB Tray Owens, QB Devontay Bell, S Kaley Washington, RB/DB Donavan Fields. Tyler: QB Geovari McCollister, DB Terry Ausbourne, L Travaughn Moore, DB. LB Malik Howard.
UPDATE: The Tigers are coming a bye week after a 77-65 loss to Sulphur Springs and Owens’ 467-yard record-breaing night ... JT beat a team from Mexico 51-14 before its bye week .. McCollister ran for 161 yards and threw for three TDs in the win ... last year JT hammered the Tigers 63-14 ...Owens has gained 823 yards over his last two games but Tyler has one of the most physical defenses Corsicana will face.