The long awaited return

Tigers prepare for their first playoff game in two years

Texas+High+athletic+director+and+head+football+coach+Gerry+Stanford+speaks+to+players+after+a+game.+The+Texas+High+Tigers+advanced+to+playoffs+after+a+game+against+West+Mesquite.+
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The long awaited return

Texas High athletic director and head football coach Gerry Stanford speaks to players after a game. The Texas High Tigers advanced to playoffs after a game against West Mesquite.

Texas High athletic director and head football coach Gerry Stanford speaks to players after a game. The Texas High Tigers advanced to playoffs after a game against West Mesquite.

Photo by Oren Smith

Texas High athletic director and head football coach Gerry Stanford speaks to players after a game. The Texas High Tigers advanced to playoffs after a game against West Mesquite.

Photo by Oren Smith

Photo by Oren Smith

Texas High athletic director and head football coach Gerry Stanford speaks to players after a game. The Texas High Tigers advanced to playoffs after a game against West Mesquite.

Story by Caden Rainwater, sports editor

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A season distinguished by huge wins, shared tears and new-found excitement. A season turned around from loss. A season that brought together hope and unity to formulate a winning team.

The Texas High Tigers, bouncing back from their 0-3 start in district play, hold their helmets higher than ever as they roll into their first playoff game in two years. The Tigers will kick off their postseason by playing the Lufkin High School Panthers, a team undefeated in their district, at their home stadium.

The Tigers, 6-4, started their season with a loss to a larger school and then two huge wins to local schools: Arkansas High School and Liberty-Eylau High School. Then, set back by the absence of their starting quarterback, the Tigers opened their district season with three straight losses, averaging 17 points per game while allowing an average of 44 points per game.

“We were stumbling early in the season,” junior noseguard, Christian Suratt said. “We just had to get our stuff together and play as a team and not for ourselves.”

The Tigers have turned their season around by winning their final three games in district play with the return of junior quarterback Rian Cellers. Qualifying for playoffs on their last game against the West Mesquite Wranglers, the Tigers haven’t experienced a loss in over a month and are eager to march through UIL playoffs.

“We’ve fought hard, and had our minds set on our one goal,” senior right guard Eric Poe said. “It started at practice, and we’re just going to keep grinding with this same group of guys all the way.”

A win in the bi-district round will not come easily as the Panthers are ranked as the 34th team in the state. Because they have one of the greatest winning margins in Texas, being able to hold the Panthers to a low score will be difficult.

These two football powerhouses both aspire to make their mark on the 2019 Football State Playoffs. However, Friday night one team will take off their pads and helmets for the very last time, and all fans can do is ponder on which team will clean out their lockers and which will prepare for the upcoming weekend.

“It’s time to execute, it’s time to play hard,” Poe said. “No mistakes. Execute. No mistakes. Execute. No mistakes. Execute.”

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