Dave Henigan was moving around the Tigers’ locker room Monday afternoon, carrying around a clipboard with a list of players moving on to basketball, while his assistants were checking in equipment.

It’s the day the coaches and players don’t want to come, especially when you go 5-5 and miss the playoffs for the second year in a row.

The 2008 season started with promise — a 3-1 record that could have been 4-0 if not for a holding penalty at the Whitehouse 1-yard line.

The Tigers opened the district season with a win at Waco University, and took that 3-1 record into a home game against Waco Midway. The Tigers lost that game, and won only twice the rest of the season, including last week’s 35-21 loss to Cleburne.

So how did a season that started so well, with doubters all over town, turn into another season without a postseason game.

Here’s a look at why:

Wounded secondary: The 34-31 victory against University proved costly. Cornerback Calvin Glover and safety Tremaigne Dickson were injured against University and didn’t play the next week in a 43-7 loss to Midway.

The Tigers allowed a long touchdown pass and three long runs against Midway without Glover, their best cover corner, Dickson, their best defensive back in run support, plus Andey Means, who was injured early against Midway and missed most of the game.

Don’t forget Whitehouse receiver Trey Meteyor, who had back-to-back 200-yard receiving games heading into Week 2, had eight receptions against the Tigers, but had only 67 yards receiving as Glover locked him down all night.

“Calvin was our best cover guy,” Henigan said. “That really hurt us.”

Then in what turned out to be the season’s biggest game — and the most winnable key district game — against Ennis, the Tigers limited the Lions to just eight possessions, one of which was used to run out the clock at the end of the game.

Ennis scored on 5 of 8 possessions in a 36-28 game. The Lions converted a fourth-and-16 and a third-and-17 on two separated possessions that resulted in points. If Glover plays in that game, one of those possessions might have ended up with zero points.

Losing your starting quarterback: Starting quarterback Cameron Young wasn’t have a good game against Waco Midway, but still he had played well up to that game, so the season-ending collar bone injury he suffered in that game changed everything about the Tigers’ offense the rest of the season.

The Tigers went to a power running game with Cody Evans, but while they had success against Midlothian and Cleburne, they were not as successful against Waco and Waxahachie, both teams that were stout up front.

“We tried to shorten games,” Henigan said. “We did everything we could to keep the clock moving. We may not have had the balance on offense that I’m used to having. But I don’t regret making the move.”

Means, who replaced Young, did a good job of leading the offense and deserves a ton of credit for rallying the Tigers from a 21-7 deficit against Cleburne.

There were at least four instances late in the season — one comes to mind against Waco, another against Waxahachie and two against Cleburne — where the Tigers had sure touchdowns on deep pass plays.

For whatever reason, whether it wasn’t a perfect throw or there was a dropped pass, the Tigers kept 28 points off the scoreboard.

The Tigers had four plays of 50 yards or more in the back half of the season — two were kick returns, one was a run by Cody Evans and the other was a Means to JaVonti Hines pass play.

Where were the sacks?: The Tigers had zero sacks in the last four games as they weren’t able to get any pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

It was the biggest factor against Ennis and Waxahachie, both of whom hit big plays in the running and passing game.

Again, because of the injuries in the secondary, the Tigers weren’t able to do much as far as blitzing because they couldn’t afford to expose an inexperienced secondary.

“Plus we were playing against a lot better offense lines,” Henigan said. “You look at the stretch of Ennis, Waco, Waxahachie, that’s three pretty good teams.”

The Waco loss: The Tigers are making it a regular thing, struggling after an emotional game against Ennis.

This year was no different.

If there was one time when the Tigers came out flat to start a game, it was against Waco, which also happened to be the Friday after the 36-28 loss to Ennis.

Waco scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and then the Tigers fumbled a kickoff. The game was over right there as Waco took a 35-0 halftime lead.

“They were steamrolling,” Henigan said. “We were flat.”

That loss put pressure on the Tigers to win by 13 against Waxahachie. That proved too much to overcome.

And led to another scene out at the Tigers’ locker room Monday, with the players packing up after missing the playoffs, and a coaching staff wondering what’s next.


Todd Wills may be contacted via e-mail at twills@corsicanadailysun.com

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