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story.lead_photo.caption Texas High running back Tyrell Miller crosses the goal line for one of his two touchdowns in the first half against the Independence Knights in a area playoff game Nov. 22, 2019, in Frisco, Texas. Miller accounted for 109 of the Tigers' 177 total yards of offense before halftime. (Photo by Kevin Sutton)

TEXARKANA, Texas — When Texas High advanced to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs last season, it was a first for the team under head football coach and athletic director Gerry Stanford.

The Tigers defeated No. 5 ranked Lufkin on the road in a double overtime, 41-35, first round contest at Abe Martin Stadium.

Entering his fourth season, the Tigers are working this offseason to achieve more this fall.

"We're just taking things one day at a time," Stanford said. "We really don't know what tomorrow is going to hold, regarding what you're allowed to do and what not to do. Like a lot of people, we don't have the answers. Frankly, no one else does either. We're just taking it slowly and we're going to keep working at it. We're going to keep doing everything we can within the rules.

Stanford said the coaches have been video conferencing with the players.

"We split up the meetings offensive, defensive and also by position," he said. "In total, they're getting about four virtual meetings a week with our staff."

Statistically, the Tigers improved from Stanford's second to third year, achieving an almost 100-point swing defensively. In 2018, the Tigers gave up 407 points. In 2019, that dropped to 309, while to Tiger offense scored 357 points.

Stanford said video conferencing takes about an hour.

"We'd much rather be with our guys," Stanford said. "In a normal day with our players, we're with them two to four hours, depending on what the day brings."

The intangibles of personal contact is also lost.

"There's a lot more to being around our guys than just football, as to what they can get from us," Stanford said. "Life, character and all those things. There's a lot they're missing out on."

Stanford and his staff are preparing the Tigers mentally to take the field as soon as the University Interscholastic League lifts the dead period.

"Well, I think it's going to speed us up when we get to that point, There are certain thing we're going to have to get in the rhythm of doing. Just how we go about a normal day," he said. "I think that part will take a little bit longer, which means we'll be backed up on the football side as far as how fast we're installing things."

Once he can get back with his players, Stanford plans to get back to the basics.

"That will help us get to our normal routine," he said. "Everyone is going to be excited to be back. I expect the energy level to be high."

Texas High opens the season on Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at John Tyler.

Stanford said the success the team had last year will raise the expectations of players this year.

"Kids get to see what it takes to win games like that," he said. "It takes discipline and a lot of hard work. I think they've learned those things. Even in the offseason, the intensity level is higher. The focus is there. The attention to why what they were doing was better and I think it will carry over to this fall."

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