Grading the District 15-4A teams at season’s midpoint

Posted Monday, Oct. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Though the school year is only about one-sixth over, the football season has reached mid-term. All five Mansfield ISD schools have played half of their 10 regular season games. Here are semester reports from the three Mansfield schools competing in District 15-4A.

Lake Ridge

After going 0-10 last season, there was no direction but forward for the Eagles, and they did just that by earning the school’s first-ever football victory in Week 1 with a dramatic three-overtime 77-75 victory over Burleson Centennial. And though Lake Ridge hasn’t been able to add to its win total over the remainder of the first half of the season, there have been some significant positives and they could easily have a winning record – two of the Eagles’ losses have come by a combined four points.

“I’m proud of their effort and proud of their competitiveness,” coach Kirk Thor said. “We’re still a young team but our kids have played hard. The record, at 1-4, is what it is, but our kids have been in some ball games.”

Lake Ridge coaches figured the best chance they had to compete was to feature a full-throttle offense, and that’s what they’ve done, averaging just under 39 points per game. Jett Duffy is the trigger man, and he’s completed almost half his passes for 961 yards with 13 TDs to only four interceptions. He’s also added almost 400 yards rushing with five additional scores on the ground.

The workhorse in the backfield has been Duke Carter, who has 670 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior leader Jaylen Hernandez leads the receiving corps with 376 yards on 18 grabs.

Defensively, youth and size has been a factor.

“We’re not big enough to just stand there in a four-man front and take people on and sit in the gap,” Thor said. “We’ve got to move around and slant and blitz … when you do that, you put more pressure on your secondary.

“On the scoreboard, you look at the scores they’ve given up, and they’re high,” he added. “But I don’t think that’s an indicator of where our kids really are. I think we’ve played well against the run. We move around and it may look very unorthodox, but there’s a method behind everything we do.”

Taking everything into account, Thor feels like his team probably deserves a B-minus or C grade at the midway point of the season.

“I think effort-wise I’d give us an A; I think the effort has been great. But overall I’d say B-minus or C. We’re not where we should be, probably, just because we’re so young and just a second-year program, but we’re getting better every week. I think we’ll move up the charts each week as far as a letter grade because we’re learning more and more football.”

Legacy

For those outside the Legacy fandom, this is probably the biggest surprise of the MISD schools. The Broncos are 5-0 on the season and 2-0 in District 15-4A play with victories over Lancaster and Red Oak, two teams considered before the season as locks for playoff berths.

Offensively, Legacy has relied on a strong running game, powered in large part by Kijana Amous, who has 671 yards rushing on 100 carries and 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Terrence Ivery, who has made impressive strides over the first half of the season since making his first start under center, has added just over 500 yards on the ground with a pair of scores. He’s also thrown for 446 yards with five touchdown passes. Josh Conrad has been the most productive of the receivers, hauling in 11 passes for 192 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Broncos defense has been opportunistic and solid when necessary. Everett Williams has been a key playmaker, scoring three times in the first five games. Melson has been impressed with their ability to slow down the run, and also pointed to linebacker Daniel Nyandika as a big surprise.

“He came out of nowhere in the spring and has been a huge surprise for us,” Melson said. “He’s played really well.”

Overall, Melson would give his team a well-deserved A at the mid-term.

“Fundamentally, we’re not where we need to be, but we’re getting there,” he said. “They always just seem to be able to make the plays at the right time, and we’ve got a bunch of really good players that are prepared by really good coaches. We haven’t reached our potential yet, but right now I’d give them an A.”

Melson pointed out that his team deserves extra credit for its chemistry and teamwork.

“I don’t see any selfish guys out here,” he added. “They really care about each other and that makes a world of difference in the ball games. I think that’s a huge thing that’s in our favor.”

Summit

With just a lone victory to its credit at the midway point, Summit’s results have been a disappointment. Still, head coach Travis Pride and his Jaguars don’t yet see the season as lost.

“Even though we’re 1-4, I think there’s a sense of urgency, but I don’t feel like we’re discouraged or see any signs of giving up,” he said.

Summit was winless in its non-district schedule, which featured a pair of 5A opponents in cross-town rivals Mansfield and Timberview. The Jaguars did appear to turn the corner, winning their District 15-4A opener against Waxahachie, 38-34, but couldn’t keep the momentum going, suffering a tough double-overtime loss at Arlington Seguin this past weekend.

“We have a ton of potential, but I don’t think we’ve fully reached that potential,” Pride said. “There’s comes a point in time where you have to do that – you have to reach your potential – and play to your capabilities.”

Pride has been impressed with the growth of many of his young players. With so many underclassmen and inexperienced players in key positions, it’s easy to understand why the Jaguars would face some growing pains.

Pride has been particularly pleased with the improvement of sophomore quarterback Braden Nolen, who has completed 55 percent of his passes this year for 895 yards and four scores. The coach also noted the positive learning curve of running back Jordan Hester, who is new to the position. He’s toted the ball 61 times for 406 yards and four touchdowns.

“We’re not where we want to be,” Pride said. “I think we’re a work in progress. I still have high expectations for this club. Our record may not be excellent at the end of the deal, but I think we can be in the hunt for a district championship and I think we can be in the hunt for the playoffs. I think our best is yet to come, but we’ve got to start putting the pedal to the metal and getting the job done.”

As for a mid-term grade, Pride looks at it from two different perspectives.

“From an effort standpoint, I’d probably give them a B,” he said. “From a results-oriented standpoint, I’d probably give us a C or C-minus. We just have things that we’re more capable of. I think we’re capable of A’s.”

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