No more thumb sucking in Dublin

BRAD KEITH brad.keith@empiretribune.com
Keith is the sports editor at the Stephenville Empire-Tribune. He can be reached by e-mail at brad.keith@empiretribune.com, and can be followed on Twitter @ETSports.

What's all the fuss about a 27-7 loss to begin the season?

Depends where the fuss is coming from.

For some, a 27-7 loss might just prove to be a win.

Hico deserved its victory over Dublin Friday night. At this point, the Tigers are the better team. Heck they out-gained the Lions by a 4-1 margin.

But the real stir was that Dublin suddenly had a chance. The score was tied 7-7 at halftime Friday after the Lions lost 61-0 to the Tigers in their season opener a year before.

Now I can't even call Tarleton head coach Cary Fowler without him cutting off my questions to ask, "What's going on with the Dublin Lions?"

That's how it's been all week. A good friend of mine said she felt out of the loop and wanted to know who some of the leaders were on the team.

I told her of Dirk DeVries and his stunning diving catch Friday, of linebackers Hayden Jurado and Travis Blazi and of quarterback Clay Francis and others.

Her reply - by text message - read, "I used to babysit Clay when he was still sucking his thumb!"

Somebody over in Dublin - several somebodies starting with Bob Cervetto, I'm sure - decided the Lions shouldn't be sucking their thumbs anymore.

So they went to work. Hard work. Anybody notice the different look of the athletes in Dublin? That's called off-season. It's called summer conditioning. It's called weight room.

They also went to work upstairs, learning the game, learning their positions, learning how it all comes together.

Cervetto, the second year head coach of the Lions, knows there are still many miles they must travel, but it's clear the journey has more than just begun.

Dublin gave its school, its fans and its town a reason to believe in Lions football again Friday. And if you don't believe that can be good for a town, you must not live in rural Texas.

Cervetto and company have a trip to Millsap this week, and I'm betting it will be a happy bus ride home. They'll celebrate homecoming a week later against an improved Santo team, and should have every chance to win that game. Valley Mills, who was victimized in the Lions' only win last season, follows on Sept. 21.

So Dublin has a chance to get some W's, something they haven't had more than two of in a season since 2007.

The district schedule is more difficult, and the Lions still have a steep hill to climb. They may not sniff the playoffs, but they will continue to turn heads with how competitive they have become.

One head coach has already noticed.

"You can tell Cervetto is doing things the right way," said Hico head coach Keith Wood. "Dublin's headed in the right direction."

Clay Francis doesn't suck his thumb anymore.

Neither, apparently, do the Dublin Lions.

Follow Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports