Who’s to say what would’ve happened if Silsbee held on to the ball late in its first-round game against Carthage last fall. Maybe Silsbee could’ve made a march into December. Instead, the Tigers fell out of the playoffs in the first round to the eventual state champion.
In Randy Smith’s first year as head coach, he guided the Tigers to a 6-5 record and second-place finish in a rather tough District 10-4A DI. The non-district losses were to 5A Port Neches-Groves, 3A state quarterfinalist Newton and 4A state champion West Orange-Stark.
Silsbee beat Little Cypress in the district opener by a couple of touchdowns and throttled Navasota. The Tigers then lost a 42-41 shootout to district champion Bridge City. Silsbee manhandled Hargrave and Cleveland to close the regular season.
Smith brought an option game to Silsbee and the Tigers piled up points and yards, especially with the churning legs of Calvin Tyler, who averaged 11.6 yards per carry en route to 2,900 yards and 29 touchdowns. Silsbee as a team averaged 330 rushing yards per game.
A winning mindset has been instilled at the school after a state championship basketball season and fourth-place team finish at the 4A state track meet. Silsbee has the fastest kid in the country in Kalon Barnes, the Baylor commit who was the state champion in both the 100 and 200. Barnes raced against the nations’ fastest 100-yard runners and beat them all at a meet in Oregon. The very next week he finished second in the 200 at a meet in Boston.
The school worked on resurfacing the grass field for better drainage and to prevent unnecessary slipping, which seemed to be a problem for the Tigers and opposing teams.
RB Calvin Tyler, QB Willie Jones, LB Michael McCain
Tyler was one of the best running backs in the state and was hands-down the best in District 10-4A DI. Jones was a good running quarterback with a reliable arm and McCain was a first-team all-district defender.
WR Kalon Barnes, WR Tre’ Lowe, RB/LB Adonis Thomas
Barnes is the fastest kid in the country, and Lowe was on the 4×100 relay team that finished second in the state by a hair. The two will be fantastic targets for whoever wins the quarterback battle this fall.
Thomas was an all-district defender but will be looked upon for carries in the backfield.
Silsbee has made the playoffs 12 of the last 13 years, including the last nine. The Tigers should make it 10 this fall, but more importantly, they have a shot at winning a district title.
The Tigers will need to be true road warriors this fall as they get just four home games, including West Orange-Stark for homecoming on Sept. 29. Silsbee opens district with the other three playoff teams from last season. They travel to Little Cypress and Navasota before hosting Bridge City. Wins in all three of those games would almost assure the Tigers a district title.
The road through Region III goes through Carthage this fall, and the Tigers already proved they could hang with them. Now that Randy Smith has been in charge for more than a year, the Tigers can get back on a long playoff trek.
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