Carlisle Looks to Keep the Train Rolling in Rocky Baker’s Last Season as Head Coach
Whenever the end of the 2017 football season comes for Carlisle, the sun will set on Rocky Baker's 13-year tenure as the Indians' head coach.
Carlisle had won 10 games in a season just three times since 1960 until Baker came to town in 2005. The Indians could make that happen for the sixth time under Baker with a win against district rival San Augustine on Saturday.
It's been a special run for Baker, who will stay on as athletic director and help coach the football team but will hand the head job over next season to his son, Clay Baker, who has been an assistant at Carlisle for nine years.
But this year is still going on, and Baker doesn't want it to end any time soon.
"I would love to take this group of kids as far as we can possibly go. We had 13 seniors last year and four seniors this year who could accomplish the same thing as last year," Baker said. "That would be a great thing."
Carlisle lost to San Augustine by 14 points in Week 10 of the 2016 regular season, only to take down the Wolves, 28-14, three weeks later in the Class 2A Division I playoffs. The Indians lost to San Augustine by 13 points this year, 20-7 on Nov. 10, but are looking for revenge yet again.
But it almost didn't happen.
The Indians (9-3) found themselves in an early 17-0 whole last week against Kerens in the area round before scoring 33 of the game's final 39 points to come out with a 41-31 win and stay alive.
"All week long we talked about (Kerens) was going to be a lot bigger than us, but we had to keep grinding. And we went into the game thinking the second half is where we would have to win it," Baker said. "We didn't expect to be down that much but we stayed with the plan, made a few adjustments on the defensive side of the ball and came out with the win."
Speaking of defense, Carlisle's is on fire. Not only did the Indians shut down Kerens at crucial moments in the area round, but they held Groveton to one of its worst offensive outputs of the season in bi-district.
At the center of it all has been Gerald Turner, who followed an amazing four-interception performance against Groveton with two more against Kerens.
"He has found a whole different notch," Baker said. "Gerald's probably playing as good as anyone in the state right now at that position. A lot of have have stepped up for us on defense, especially considering all of our injuries, but he's shone quite a bit. He's shown us a lot of leadership the last two weeks."
Carlisle will once again lean heavily on its defense this week against San Augustine, which the Indians held to a season-worst 20 points during the regular season. Baker said if his defense can put up a repeat performance on Saturday, the Indians will have a great shot to win.
"We liked the way we played defensively the last time we played. It was 14-7 with about a minute or so left and they punched one in. But defensively I thought we played very good," Baker said. "I told them if we can go out and match that, we have a good chance this week. (San Augustine) is so high-powered and we respect them completely. But we're not going to approach it any differently than any other game."
Baker likes to refer to his team as a blue-collar squad, emphasizing a family atmosphere and hard work especially during a season full of injuries.
"Every team deals with injuries but I'm not sure many have dealt with what we have this year, often going through two or three players at the same position," Baker said. "But we have to earn our paycheck like everyone else does Monday through Friday. We work hard to try to get paid on Friday night. But we go out as a unit, as a family. We communicate well because we have to rely on the guy next to them to help them and be where they're supposed to be."