Bubbling ... That’s the word Hal Wasson used.
“It’s bubbling,’’ he said. “It hasn’t formed yet, but it’s bubbling.”
Wasson was talking about the state of affairs regarding his Tigers football team and where they’re at after a scrimmage against Class 6A power Hewitt Midway.
If you showed up at Tiger Stadium Thursday night, you could see the caldron bubbling, could feel the energy of this town and the football faithful bubbling, too.
It’s all there and we’re still a week away from the season opener in Burleson.
These Tigers are still learning but anyone who saw these kids in the spring and saw them Thursday night knows they are leaping like crazy and growing like mad.
With plenty of leaping and growing ahead of them ...
A nice sized crowd showed up on a hot Thursday night to take a look at Wasson’s Tigers, who went up against one of the best teams in Texas in a scrimmage.
The crowd and the team came away from the scrimmage feeling good about where they are and better about where they’re going.
Teams scrimmage to learn about themselves, but the Tigers taught the fans a lesson Thursday:
Don’t leave any game early.
QB Solomon James and the Tigers drove 91 yards in four plays over the final 1:04 of the scrimmage and tied Midway 7-7 with a drive that took your breath away and that left the crowd buzzing.
After the Tigers defense stopped Midway on downs at the Tiger 9-yard-line when linebacker Tyler Farmer tipped away a fourth-down pass, James took over and went by Midway faster than you can say “Is that quarterback really a sophomore?”
But James throws like a college sophomore, and his receivers believe in him and believe in those tight spirals that cut through the air and find their mark.
He ripped through Midway, hitting three passes in a row to Quay Chambers, who made some clutch catches, including a turn-around, fingertip reception that broke Midway’s heart. Chambers’ three receptions moved the Tigers to the Midway 47 with seconds left on the clock, and James came up with the play of the night, rolling, rolling and rolling to his right and then looking up to find Lane Fuentes slicing across the field.
James hit Fuentes in stride with a beauty and Fuentes zipped (that’s the right description) by Midway and then cut up field, racing along the right sideline and into the end zone.
The live quarter of action ended in a 7-7 tie. (With apologies to Bear Bryant and Darrell Royal, Corsicana’s sister is drop-dead gorgeous.)
But it wasn’t just the one play or the one lightning-quick 91-yard drive in four plays that left a smile on the faces of all these kids. It was the way they played.
The format had the two first-and-second unites facing each other and then a full quarter of football, keeping score.
Tigers moved right down the field in their first drive of night with James completing four of his first six passes, and just missing on a TD pass to end the drive.
“I thought we started pretty strong and finished strong with the 91-yard drive,” Wasson said.
“In our first drive we drove down the field with consistency, but didn’t get the touchdown.
“We finished with a 91-yard drive in four plays, and that’s a good sign that we’ve got some playmakers. And I feel good about the stop in the Red Zone (before the last drive).
“There were things we did wrong, but those are things we can fix,” he said. “I feel better about getting a bead on our identity. I knew going in we would get exposed on our back end (in the secondary) but those guys are young and they will improve, and we’ve been preparing for Centennial (which runs a unique offense).”
The Tigers won’t see a team in the regular season nearly as good as Midway, which has more than a half dozen Division I players.
The Panthers played for the state title two years ago and reached the state quarterfinals last December — and most feel this year’s team is better than the 2018 team.
“That’s a Top 10 team,” Wasson said. “They‘re not just a good 6A program, they’re an elite 6A program. I thought we stood toe-to-toe with them. I was really excited to see our kids battle with them.
“I want this football team’s mindset to be ‘let’s play two or three really good football teams early.’ I don’t want any pillow fights. We have to identify our strengths and our weaknesses.”
The Tigers have come a long way in short time since Wasson took over, and you can see and feel the difference.
“I think this team improved immensely from last spring to where we are now,” Wasson said. “We still have a long way to go.”
The Tigers are moving forward everywhere. The JV team fought to a tie with Midway) and the freshman Tigers beat Midway 3-0 in their scrimmage.
Wasson wants a new day for his team and for Corsicana, the fans, the community.
“We greatly appreciate the support we had (with the big the crowd Thursday), Wasson said. “If that’s any indication of what the season is going to be like fans should get season tickets early because it’s brewing. I’d like to thank all the fans who came out Thursday.”
Don’t be surprised if season ticket sales jump this week after Thursday’s scrimmage. That’s how impressive the Tigers were against Midway.
Wasson said the day he arrived that he wants to change the mindset of his team, and change the culture, and he has often talked about how this team belongs to the community and how important the community is to the program.
He can see the beginning of that change.
“You can see the renovation of the program,” he said. “You can see the culture changing. You can see it, you can taste it and you can feel it — and you can see it in the kids’ faces.”
It’s bubbling ...