Looking back, looking ahead
Published 8:42 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2006
By BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
T.R. Miller Tigers coach Jamie Riggs is not used to having Thanksgiving week free to do as he pleases.
He would rather be working and the Tigers would rather be playing.
Instead neither will happen this week after the Tigers saw their season come to an end Friday with a 28-10 loss to Elmore County in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs. It's the first time since 1999 when T.R. Miller lost in the opening round to Jemison the Tigers have failed to reach at least the state semifinal round.
Despite the unusual early exit, Riggs said his team still accomplished a lot. T.R. Miller's 10-2 record marked the seventh straight season the Tigers won at least 10 games. T.R. Miller tied for first with Thomasville in Region 1 and earned the region championship and number one seed through its head-to-head victory at Thomasville. The Tigers had one of the state's better offenses, as they averaged 35.2 points per game. T.R. Miller spent three weeks as the team's top-ranked team.
Riggs said his program overcame a lot to accomplish what it did.
Much of T.R. Miller's success starts with its senior class that included 22 members. The Tigers' top four leading rushers were seniors led by Justin Gomez's 810 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns (28 total). Jamal Middleton (337), Travis Holland (325) and Tanner Shehan (206) will also depart.
T.R. Miller will have to find a new signal caller after senior quarterback Baxley Raines threw for 1,471 yards and six touchdowns. Raines also accounted for most of T.R. Miller's kicking duties.
Seniors caught 93 of T.R. Miller's 100 pass receptions this season led by Shehan's team-high 23 catches for 315 yards. Brice Martin had a team-high 426 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 22 receptions.
Many will tend to look at T.R. Miller's defense, which gave up an average of 21.1 points a game for the season and 26 points a game over its last seven contests, as its ultimate downfall against Elmore County. At the same time, the 211 yards T.R. Miller allowed against Elmore County were the second fewest it allowed over its last eight games.
While there are plenty of questions to answer before any season, Riggs admits next year's squad will have more than usual.
Next year's T.R. Miller schedule is expected to be the same as this past season with only home and away dates flip-flopped. The Tigers have two-year contracts with each of their non-region foes, Clarke County, Straughn and Trinity Presbyterian.
One site exception could be the week two region trip to Southside-Selma. T.R. Miller has made two offers to buy out the game and make it a home contest, but Southside-Selma has declined both.
T.R. Miller's tentative schedule for 2007 is as follows.
Aug. 31 Clarke County Home
Sept. 7 Southside-Selma Away*
Sept. 14 Escambia County Home*
Sept. 21 Monroe County Away*
Sept. 28 Straughn Home
Oct. 5 Thomasville Home*
Oct. 12 Jackson Away*
Oct. 19 Hillcrest Home*
Oct. 26 W.S. Neal Away*
Nov. 2 Trinity Away
* Region games