At this time last year, the Glen Rose Tigers were staring right down the barrel of an 0-5 start. Almost one year to the day later, the Tigers are now 3-1 entering Friday night’s home contest against Lake Worth.
What a difference a year makes.
“It’s tough when new coaches with a new scheme come in and it takes a while for everyone to gel and become a team, and when they did they got it rolling,” Glen Rose football coach Cliff Watkins said of his 2016 Tigers.
After beating Lake Worth 48-7 last year, the Tigers reeled off seven more victories before bowing out in the third round of the Class 4A Div. II playoffs.
This year, following a 72-14 rout over Carrollton Ranchview last Friday night, the Tigers have won three straight games, and are gearing up for more.
“It’s early in the season and there is no room for complacency,” Watkins said. “These guys have to continue to be hungry to get better. Our leadership has to take that to the field each and every day.”
The Tigers will look to make it four straight wins when they host the Frogs (0-4) Friday night at 7:30 at Tiger Stadium.
“We’re excited about the fast start this year, but we still have to grow and get better each and every week and peak at the right time,” Watkins said. “Right now, it feels good, but down the road is where it’s going to matter.”
In their losses to Boyd (26-23), Melissa (55-24), Golden (34-0) and Krum (41-29), the Frogs are averaging just 238.5 yards total offense (189.5 rushing, 49 receiving). The Frogs have four players with at least 118 rushing yards led by Andres Vega (258 yards), who is averaging 64.5 yards per game.
The Tigers, on the other hand, are averaging 477.8 yards per game. Running back Westen Halcom is averaging 110 yards per contest, while quarterback Cameron Griffin is averaging 44.8 yards on the ground.
Through the air, Griffin has completed 71 of 125 passes for 1,176 yards with 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions in four contests.
In the 58-point win over Carrollton Ranchview, Griffin threw for a career-high six touchdown passes to five different receivers, and Halcom rushed for a pair of scores.
For the fourth game in a row, the Tigers started off fast, and this time, they posted 28 points in the opening stanza.
Dakota Paschall (24 yards), Drayden James (16 yards) and Logan Thames (15 yards) hauled in TD receptions from Griffin, while Halcom added a 20-yard run in the first quarter.
The Tigers kept their foot on the gas as Halcom added another TD run (4 yards) and Jess Niedziela (42 yards) and James (10 yards) added touchdown receptions in building a 49-7 lead at the half.
“When we can start fast on both sides of the ball like we’ve been fortunate to do, it puts opponents in a hole early and they are forced to do some things they don’t want to do,” Watkins said. “The last couple of weeks the guys have done a great job of keeping that sense of urgency for 48 minutes and not letting up.”
Tyler Torres added a 61-yard TD reception, Griffin had a 16-yard scoring run and the defense posted a safety in the third quarter. Jake Andersen closed out the Glen Rose scoring in the fourth quarter with a 36-yard run.
Defensively, the Tigers created four turnovers while allowing just two TDs to the school that had defeated Glen Rose 41-14 last season.
“We forced some turnovers and that’s huge,” Watkins said. “If we can get in the plus in the turnover margin we are going to give ourselves a chance to win each week. Our defense has done a great job of creating turnovers. Hopefully, we can keep that up.”
Tanner Stroud led the Tiger defense with 11 tackles against Ranchview, while Ricky Douglas and River Costello added 10 stops each.
Offensively, Griffin completed 12 of 22 passes for 311 yards and six scores. Halcom, who didn’t play two weeks ago at Mineral Wells, rushed for 110 yards on 12 carries, while Griffin had 73 yards on seven carries and Garrett Gilbreath added 70 yards on 10 carries.
Torres and James caught three passes each for 77 and 64 yards, respectively, while Paschall and Halcom each had two receptions for 62 and 51 yards, respectively.
The Tigers have an open date next week, followed by the first District 4-4A, Div. II game, Oct. 13 at home against Venus (7:30 p.m.).