ROFF — Long winning streaks to open the season are getting to be a habit at Roff High School.

The Tiger baseball team began the fall campaign with a school-record 18-game streak en route to a 30-2 mark, and Friday night’s victory at Silo was the 19th straight for first-year coach Darrick Farriell and his basketball squad — one better than the streak the 1967-68 Tigers put together en route to Roff’s only state roundball title — heading into Monday’s road showdown at undefeated Stringtown.

Farriell, who left McCurtain last spring after leading both the boys and girls teams to the Class B state tournament, replaced a popular coach (Larry Johnston) who had taken the Tigers to the Class A state tournament two straight years and to the championship game in 2004. The team had also lost center Mitchell Trimmer — arguably Roff’s best basketball player ever — and sharpshooting guard Johnny Hearrell, but Farriell said his club’s remarkable success this season shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone who has watched his starters perform over the past couple of years.

“I’m not really surprised, because these kids work so hard,” Farriell said of the Tigers, who have ascended to a No. 3 state ranking despite having only one starter — 6-2 forward C. J. Stewart — taller than 5-11. “Our defense has been good every game. Offense is where we’ve improved a lot, because we’ve become a better transition team and a lot of kids are stepping up and scoring.”

Roff began the season with one star — senior guard Dearth Parker — and a group of solid role players, but the Tigers have evolved into a more balanced scoring team as the season has progressed while remaining the poster boys for the team concept Farriell has preached since the first day of practice.

“Dearth did the scoring at the start of the season, but we’ve worked hard to become a more balanced team so we’re harder to guard,” Farriell said. “This group has great chemistry. We have a great starting five, and our kids off the bench come in and know their roles and do a great job.

“I knew what kind of worth ethic they had and what kind of defense they could play,” he added. “And I knew they had scoring in them — we just had to bring it out. The big thing about all of these kids is that they are all intense, and they all sacrifice for the team.”

Parker, who had a season-high 38 points in a 44-38 victory over Latta on Nov. 18 and 21 points and nine rebounds in the Tigers’ 35-27 win over Tupelo last weekend in the championship game of the S.T.A.R. Tournament at Allen High School, is averaging 18 points and five rebounds per game for the season. Despite the attention paid him by opposing defenses, the 5-10 sharpshooter has remained, night-in-and-night-out, one of Class A’s most valuable and most complete players.

“People have shifted a lot of their attention to Dearth, so it’s gotten harder for him to score,” Farriell said of Parker, who, as a shortstop and pitcher on the baseball team, also played a key role in Roff’s record winning streak last fall. “But he’s still the leader for us most every night.

“He’s a real competitor — he hates to lose,” Farriell added. “He’s a catalyst every game for our offense.”

Stewart and point guard Jason Trimmer are Roff’s other two senior starters and the other two holdovers from the Tigers’ state tournament squads the past two seasons, and, like Parker, both were key members of the school’s 2004 spring state championship baseball team. Although Stewart and Trimmer deferred to Parker, Mitchell Trimmer (Jason’s older brother) and Hearrell to do most of the scoring last season, both have increased their point production this year.

“C. J. is very intelligent,” Farriell said of Stewart, who is averaging 11 points and just over five rebounds per game. “He’s not real tall, but he plays great post defense and knocks down some big shots. He’s just real quiet about it.

“Jason (who hit a couple of key 3-pointers against Tupelo last Saturday) is really unselfish and a great team player,” Farriell added. “He’s really my stopper on defense, and he’s almost tripled his scoring (from just over three points to just over nine points per game) this year.”

Patrick Blevins, a junior guard who saw spot duty for the Tigers last season as a sophomore, and Atlee Kile — a hard-nosed junior forward who replaced Rickey Thompson early in the season after the 6-10 senior was sidelined by a series of physical and disciplinary problems — are the other two Roff starters, and both have have averaged about five points per game while playing key roles in a defense that is surrendering only about 30 points per game (and has given up more than 35 points only four times all season).

“Most guys like to shoot, but Patrick likes defense more than offense,” Farriell said. “And he scores when he needs to.

“Atlee does a great job on the boards,” he added. “For his size (5-11), he’s as good as anybody.”

Roff’s bench, led by Spanish exchange student Xavier Sedo, guard Jessey Thompson and senior Glenn Cornell, has also given the Tigers a boost, providing quality minutes defensively — minutes that are essential in allowing the team to maintain its relentless pressure — and surprising offensive punch.

“Xavier has been coming in and doing a good job,” Farriell said. “He’s averaging about five points a game and he’s been doing a good job on the boards.

“I can bring Glenn (who missed the first half of the season with an injury) or Jessey in and not lose any intensity on defense,” he continued. “When I bring guys off the bench, I get quality defensive minutes and usually about 15-20 points a game. Most people don’t get that many points out of their bench.”

Farriell admitted that leaving McCurtain was a tough decision, especially after his dual state tournament trip last season, but he said coaching just one team (in addition to the Roff sixth-grade and junior high boys) has been a welcome respite from the responsibilities of handling both boys and girls the past few seasons.

“It’s been nice to have just boys — it’s cut the stress in half,” he said. “The kids work really hard, and it’s been a great year with them all the way around.

“Our sixth graders were 16-1, and our junior high team (which includes the brothers of several members of this year’s high school squad) was 17-1 this season,” Farriell added. “So hopefully we’ll have success here for a long time to come.”