Through the first five games of the 2017 football season, the Glen Rose Tigers are 4-1 as they begin their District 4-4A title defense Friday night at 7:30 when they host Venus.
After dropping their first game of the season at Grandview, the Tigers have reeled off four wins because of solid play in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams.
“We are plus seven in the turnover margin and that is huge for our team,” Glen Rose football coach Cliff Watkins said. “We give our team a chance to win each week if we can win the turnover battle, and then, offensively, we have to be able to turn those takeaways into points.”
So far, scoring hasn’t been a problem for the Tigers, who are outscoring their opponents 102-13 in the first quarter alone, 49-24 in the second quarter, and 224-83 overall.
The Tigers have scored 50 points or more twice, while allowing 16 or less three times — including their first shutout since 2013 in a 52-0 win over Lake Worth two weeks ago.
Offensively, the Tigers have 2,439 yards total offense (1,381 passing, 1,058 rushing) and are averaging 44.8 points per game. Defensively, the Tigers are allowing just 16.6 points per game and have forced 14 turnovers.
“Obviously, we want to be balanced offensively,” Watkins said. “We have to continue to take what the defense is going to give us. If we can continue to throw the ball effectively, it will open up our run game.”
Junior quarterback Cameron Griffin has completed 83-of-143 passes for 1,381 yards and 19 touchdowns with just three interceptions, and those all came in the first game against Grandview.
A total of eight receivers have caught at least one pass, led by Tyler Torres, who has 23 catches for 356 yards and five scores. Dakota Paschall has 18 catches for a team-high 417 yards and five scores, while Jess Niedziela has 12 catches for 216 yards and four touchdowns.
“Cameron has improved each week and so has everyone around him,” Watkins said. “He has a good understanding of what we want to do and how we want to attack defenses. The best thing over the last three weeks is that we have not turned the ball over.”
Westen Halcom, who missed a game with an ankle injury, leads the team in rushing with 66 carries for 511 yards and five touchdowns. Teammates Garrett Gilbreath and Griffin have 192 and 189 yards rushing, respectively.
Defensively, the Tigers have three players averaging 10 or more tackles, led by Ricky Douglas (11.4), followed by Bryan Pounds (10.4) and Tanner Stroud (10.2). Justin Huckabee has a team-best three sacks and Stroud has two.
On special teams, Reynaldo Reyna is 26 of 28 on extra-point attempts and 3 for 3 in field-goal attempts.
The Tigers ran the table last season in district play, and they look to accomplish the same feat this year, but Watkins knows his team will have a target on its back.
“I feel like our district is going to be solid from top to bottom. We are going to get everyone's best each week since we won the district last year,” he said. “Our No. 1 goal has to be to continue to concentrate on us improving each week and that starts in practice.”
After Venus tonight, the Tigers will travel to meet Benbrook Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. at Clark Stadium in Fort Worth.