The Crowley football team has embraced the underdog role this season, but after Friday's 42-28 victory over rival Everman, the Eagles may have to come up with a new mantra.
"We love being that underdog team," Crowley running back Larry Cheeks said. "I hope we still are but now with our success, people are starting to look at us. Hopefully we can just keep it going."
Last week's victory was Crowley's first win over the Bulldogs since 2005, the first win at Everman since 1998, and pushed the Eagles' win streak to four. Crowley (4-1, 2-0 in District 8-4A) has already surpassed last season's win total (3).
"Those kids really wanted to make a statement saying that we're not the same team that we've been, that we've gotten over the hump so to speak," Crowley coach Chris James said. "By no means are we where we want to be yet but beating Everman, a quality opponent, was big for us."
Cheeks, a senior, has produced for the Eagles for years. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound speedster rushed for 810 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore, 1,384 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior and is on pace for his biggest season to date with 904 yards and 12 touchdowns through five games.
The emergence of quarterback Matt Marner (635 passing yards, seven TDs and 420 yards, two TDs rushing) has opened things up for Cheeks, who is averaging a career-best 8 yards per carry.
"It brings the safeties farther back," Cheeks said. "Once I get to the second level those safeties are so far back now that all I really have to do is make one move and I'm gone and sometimes I don't even have to make a move."
The Eagles are an experienced, hungry group featuring 49 seniors who appear to have developed a winning formula. Their explosive offense is reeling off 431 yards and 35 points a game. The opportunistic defense averages two takeaways per game.
"Our mentality has changed, we have a win or die attitude and the kids don't quit," James said. "Anytime you can gain confidence in the game of football, I think it speaks volumes for your play."
Granbury's shutout victory over Fort Worth Wyatt last week marked the Pirates' third 4-1 start in seven years, but nobody has to tell them they have to keep it going. The Pirates also opened the 2006 and 2010 seasons at 4-1 only to finish with losing records.
Granbury is 2-0 in District 5-4A with wins over Fort Worth South Hills and Wyatt, but the Pirates face huge tests against Fort Worth Southwest on Oct. 19 and three-time defending state champ Aledo on Nov. 2.
"We're a little cautious right now just because we know we have the meat of our schedule coming up and the district is tough every week," Granbury coach Scotty Pugh said. "I think it's important to jump out to a start like that but what we to try and emphasize is that it's not how you start, it's how you finish."
The Pirates have succeeded in large part due to a stout defense, which is allowing just 12 points per game. Last Friday's 21-0 victory over Wyatt was Granbury's first shutout since a 26-0 win over Saginaw on Aug. 27, 2010.
Linebacker Caleb Bendewald turned in a monster performance with 18 tackles, two for loss.
"Wyatt was picked to finish ahead of us in district this season so it was huge," Bendewald said. "The more we win, the more confident and better we get. Hopefully we can keep this up."
Mansfield Summit picked up its first win of the season on Friday and is 1-1 in District 15-4A.
Summit needed overtime to knock off Arlington Seguin 43-36. After suffering a pair of last-second losses earlier in the season and then giving up the tying score to the Cougars at the end of regulation on Friday, the defense stopped Seguin at the 2-yard line on fourth down in the extra time.
Summit coach Travis Pride said the Jags should get a boost from the return of starting quarterback Ryan Cuevas and defensive tackle Bryson Henderson from injury, which has kept both out for most of the season. Cuevas threw for 2,210 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2011. Henderson, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound TCU commit, is a stalwart up front.
Play of the week
Trophy Club Nelson running back Tylor Blake raced 92 yards for the game-winning touchdown over Lake Dallas last week with 7:16 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Blake, who finished with 203 yards and a pair of scores, credited his offensive line for the play.
"I really didn't have to do much, I just had to run. It was all my O-line," Blake said after the game.
Jarret Johnson, 817-490-7760
We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Comments deemed inappropriate will be removed and repeated abusers will be banned. NOTE: If you log in using your Twitter account, your comments will be signed using the name on your Twitter profile, NOT your Twitter user name. Read our full comment policy.