After an 0-2 start in formidable District 7-5A, Mansfield could have shut it down and looked to the future.
Excuses abounded. The Tigers had lost starting running back Kenneth Burks for the season due to injury and a road date with undefeated Midlothian loomed ahead, not to mention games against heavyweights Cedar Hill and DeSoto.
Yet the Tigers rebounded to beat Midlothian, Duncanville, Grand Prairie and Cedar Hill in consecutive weeks then gave DeSoto, the No. 2 ranked team in Texas, all it wanted to close out the regular season.
"I think a lot of people did write us off after we dug ourselves a big hole, and we talked about that," Mansfield coach Jeff Hulme said.
"The pressure was off at 0-2. We just had to get back to having a lot of fun and believing in ourselves and believing in each other, and that's exactly what they did."
After opening the Class 5A Division I playoffs last week with a 41-21 victory over Killeen, the Tigers (7-4) play Euless Trinity (9-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Birdville.
Mansfield center Austin Davis, tackles Zach Crabtree and Hunter Ponder, guards Syed Ali and Zac Pincomb, along with tight end Trent Gow and fullback Bryan Shanklin, will have their hands full with a large and fast Trinity defensive front.
"I think there is really two or three great programs historically in the Metroplex and I consider Trinity one of those teams," Hulme said.
"If you want to be considered one of the top teams then you got to play and try to beat some of the top teams."
Cause for concern?
Arlington Bowie (10-1) is rolling as winners of nine straight, including a 49-3 victory over Keller Central last week in the first round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
With an offense scoring 48 points a game and a defense yielding an average of 12 points to playoff teams the past three weeks, the Volunteers have been focused in practice on special teams.
Bowie had a field goal blocked in the regular-season finale against Arlington Martin and mishandled a punt last week against the Chargers, which led to their only points of the game. A miscue against this week's opponent, El Paso Franklin (10-1), "could get you beat," said Vols coach Kenny Perry.
"In the playoffs, field position and special teams are huge," Perry said. "When you play someone that's really good, that takes advantage of that stuff, you're going to be in trouble."
Time to shine
Several North Texas playoff games will be televised this weekend.
KTXA/Ch. 21 will air at 8:30 p.m. a tape-delayed replay of Friday's 2 p.m. playoff game between Aledo (10-1) and Denton Guyer (9-2).
Saturday at 7 p.m., the station air a tape-delayed version of Saturday afternoon's Euless Trinity (9-2) and Mansfield (7-4) matchup in Birdville.
Fox Sports Southwest has plans to broadcast the Coppell (11-0) and DeSoto (11-0) clash in Allen live at 1 p.m. Saturday, but it is contingent on a sellout of 18,000-seat Eagle Stadium by 1 p.m. Thursday. If the game is not sold out in time, then a replay will air at midnight Saturday and again at 3 p.m. Sunday.
According to the Dave Campbell's Texas Football Twitter account, FSSW will also broadcast its weekly Football Friday show live from 7-11 p.m. Friday from the Abilene (11-0) and Arlington Lamar (6-5) game at Maverick Stadium at UTA.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760
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