Fort Worth Southwest's talent was never in question.
The Raiders opened the season with record-breaking stars on offense in quarterback Wesley Harris and receiver Robbie Rhodes, both Baylor recruits and state track champs.
The team's ability to win a defensive struggle, however, was an unknown. Not anymore.
The Raiders' 7-0 opening-round playoff victory over Everman last week showed grit and a defense determined to advance to the next round.
"We've always been known for having really talented athletes, but we were kind of out of bullets the other night and they kept firing anyway," Southwest coach Lanny Trammell said. "I think it's just a tribute to the type of kids we have and the expectations of our program."
Southwest (9-2), forced to trot freshman quarterback Devin Williams out for his first varsity start after injuries to Harris and backup Justice Adams-Jones, faced the difficult task of defeating Everman for the second time this season.
"I kept telling the kids, yeah we beat them the first time, but we beat them with a different team," said Trammell, whose Raiders defeated Everman 42-21 on Sept. 7. "I mean before we had Wesley, we had some other guys; it was like two different ballclubs. I think they had some different people, too, so even though it was the same teams it was with different players."
Things took a turn for the worse when Rhodes went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter, but the senior returned in the second half and tossed a 43-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Homes on a trick play.
"I just taped it up and gutted it out," said Rhodes, who expects to be close to 100 percent this week. "We just knew they were all flowing in at me, knew the play would be open and we just took advantage of it."
Southwest travels to Wichita Falls to play Rider (9-2) in a Class 4A Region I Division II area-round game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Lighting it up
Southlake Carroll effectively ended its Class 5A bi-district matchup against Arlington Martin last week in the first quarter by racing to a 28-0 lead and left no doubt by halftime, up 49-0.
The Dragons (10-1) produced seven plays of 20 yards or more in the opening half and scored on two one-play possessions, a 57-yard run by running back AJ Ezzard followed by a 64-yard scramble by quarterback Kenny Hill.
Carroll also scored on a two-play drive with a 63-yard pass from Hill to receiver Ryan Weigel.
The Dragons rolled to 475 yards by intermission, led by Hill, who accounted for 395 yards and five scores.
"Well I think anytime you have a seasoned veteran like we have in Kenny Hill, it helps and our offensive line continues to improve each week," Carroll coach Hal Wasson said.
Landry Award finalists
Southlake Carroll quarterback Kenny Hill and Arlington Martin running back Kyle Hicks were selected Monday as finalists for the third annual Landry Award.
McKinney Boyd running back Bryan Driskell, Jesuit receiver Jake Oliver and Allen quarterback Oliver Pierce were also tabbed as finalists.
The Landry Award honors the top high school football player in North Texas, who also demonstrates positive character and leadership attributes. Former Aledo running back Johnathan Gray, now at Texas, won it in 2010-11.
Hill, a Texas A&M recruit, has thrown for 2,545 yards, 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,034 yards and 24 scores in 11 games this season. Hicks, a Texas commit, finished the season with 1,113 yards, 22 touchdowns rushing and passed for 476 yards and six scores in nine games.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760
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