NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- Underrated? Probably. Underappreciated? Maybe. The Birdville Hawks are undeniably undefeated.
The 2012 football season has been a breakthrough campaign for the Hawks, who have been consistently good for years, yet overshadowed by other area powers. Birdville has already won a school-record 13 games this year and is in the midst of its deepest postseason run after double-digit wins over Azle, Crowley and Lubbock Monterey.
Birdville (13-0) vs. Denton Guyer (11-2)
Class 4A Division I state quarterfinal
2 p.m. Saturday,
Dragon Stadium, Southlake
TV: KTXA/21 at 7 p.m. (tape-delayed)
Year-by-year breakdown of the Hawks' ascension to prominence under coach Jim Skinner.
2003: 5-5, Birdville's first nonlosing season after previously winning only three games in as many years
2004: 9-3, First playoff appearance, postseason win
2005: 7-3, no playoffs
2006: 9-2, lost 34-27 to Everman in Class 4A area round
2007: 8-2, lost 31-27 to Wichita Falls in 4A bi-district round
2008: 7-4, lost 46-41 to Denton Ryan in 4A bi-district round
2009: 9-2, third straight first-round exit, lost 35-27 to Lake Dallas in 4A bi-district round
2010: 10-4, deepest playoff run prior to 2012 season, lost 24-10 to Wichita Falls Rider in 4A regional semifinals
2011: 8-3, lost 14-13 to Fort Worth Arlington Heights in 4A bi-district round
2012: 13-0, first undefeated regular season, most wins in single season, deepest postseason run
"We're just trying to have a good football team," Birdville coach Jim Skinner said. "We don't look at it as a breakout year, we feel like we've had a pretty good football team for a long time. We're just trying to stay focused, stay grounded and get ready for Denton Guyer."
Despite an average margin of victory of 38 points, the Hawks head into Saturday's Class 4A Division I state quarterfinal matchup with Denton Guyer (11-2) as underdogs.
"If anything I want to be the underdog, because it's less pressure and that way we can just go out there and have some fun," said quarterback Justin Martin, who's thrown for 2,762 yards, 34 touchdowns and rushed for 600 yards and eight scores this season. "I think we get less respect because of our district. We're supposed to be in a bad district, but as you can tell in the playoffs, we've been doing pretty good."
Guyer was the No. 1-ranked Class 4A team in several preseason polls after dropping down from 5A, where it spent two successful seasons, including a run to the state championship game in 2010. After losing its first two games this season, the Wildcats have rattled off 11 consecutive victories and have lived up to the lofty expectations.
"I think Guyer has a tremendous program. There's no doubt about the caliber of athletes they have and the outstanding program they have," Skinner said. "We're working our way up the ladder right now, and we feel like we have a good football team, but you have to give them the respect they deserve."
Guyer is led by one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the state in Jerrod Heard. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior is committed to Texas and has accounted for more than 3,000 total yards and 36 touchdowns this season.
"We're going to try and create any turnover we can and get them off the field because their offense is explosive," Birdville defensive end Steven Nelson said. "Containing their quarterback is probably the biggest deal. We need to put the ball in our offense's hands and hopefully they can score."
Scoring hasn't been a problem for the Hawks, who average 442 yards and 52 points per game behind a balanced attack.
At quarterback, Martin he can distribute the ball to a slew of receivers, led by Sam Northey (63 catches, 707 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Collin Basinger (34 receptions, 652 yards, 10 scores).
Running back Xavier Turner has been good all season, accounting for almost 1,800 total yards and 23 touchdowns, but he has excelled in the playoffs with 619 yards and 11 scores.
"Coming off an upset loss last year, we just wanted to come out and execute and be a better offense and a better team," Turner said. "We just take it day by day and try to put our name out there. We feel underestimated, so we're trying to make a name for ourselves."
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760
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