Football Insider: Sam Houston coaches wouldn’t mind blowouts after close calls

Posted Monday, Oct. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Arlington Sam Houston players might be enjoying taking things down to the wire the past two weeks, with close wins over Fort Worth Paschal and North Crowley.

But the Texans’ undefeated district start has been a bit more stressful on their coaches.

“The players are happy,” Sam Houston coach Anthony Criss said. “The coaches, we’re all about to have a heart attack.”

Sam Houston (3-2, 2-0 District 3-5A) didn’t seal a 21-20 win over winless North Crowley on Friday until late in the fourth quarter with a fourth-down conversion. And the week before that, the Texans exchanged scores with Paschal before putting the Panthers away 61-51.

Regardless of how they’ve gotten there, Texans are off to their best district start in 21 years, according to Criss.

“We’re pretty excited because right now, we control our own destiny,” Criss said. “In the past, you kind of needed some help. Now we can help ourselves.”

Through five games, Daylon Woods leads the Texans with 647 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He scored twice Friday.

Criss said Sam Houston must clean up its mistakes. The Texans had three turnovers and 10 penalties against North Crowley.

“We have to be better mentally, which we’re totally focusing on right now,” Criss said. “Our whole thing is, you know what to do, do it.”

So far, Sam Houston has embraced the chance to turn things around for a program that hasn’t beaten an Arlington school in 10 years, Criss said. Friday’s game against Lamar will be a shot for the Texans to do that.

“They’ve been adjusting it and handling it pretty well,” Criss said. “We told them last week, ‘if you’re tired of not being 2-0, then go out this Friday and get the win.’ ”

Crowley keeps winning

Not even the 307 rushing yards and five touchdowns by Everman’s Kierre Crossley’s could snap Crowley’s regular-season winning streak, which has reached 14.

“We’re finding a way to win,” said Crowley coach Chris James, whose team is 5-0 overall, 2-0 in District 8-4A. “I looked in my kids’ eyes after the game and they were disappointed. Is it possible to have a disappointing victory? Yeah. We’re not where we need to be.”

Crowley beat Everman 42-38 on a 61-yard go-ahead touchdown pass from Matt Marner to Tayvon Glover late in the game.

The key for Crowley wasn’t as much shutting Crossley down as it was limiting him, and others around him, at important times, James said.

“We got the stop when we needed to, that’s all that matters,” James said.

James said his team’s streak isn’t something that’s lost on him or his players. But it hasn’t been anything to dwell on.

“As far as the history of this Crowley program, I would say definitely [the streak is a big deal]. We’ve worked really hard to get to that point,” James said. “Do we think about it? No. We’re working on Waco right now. We’re not thinking about the past two years. You have to take things that way.”

Legacy’s best so far

Mansfield Legacy (5-0, 2-0 in District 15-4A) surpassed the 40-point mark for the third time this season with a 49-35 victory at Red Oak

“That’s probably as good as we’ve played all year,” Legacy coach Chris Melson said.

Legacy, which overcame a 30-14 deficit two weeks ago in a 44-30 win against Lancaster, travels to Waxahachie this week.

The Indians (1-3, 0-2) have come close the past two weeks, losing 38-34 to Mansfield Summit on Sept. 27 and 42-34 to Lancaster last week. Melson said the road to a district championship usually runs through Waxahachie. The Indians have made the playoffs 23 of the past 24 seasons.

“They’re a perennial power, and they beat us last year,” Melson said. “If you want to get to the playoffs, you need to beat these guys. If we beat them, then we’ll have a good chance to win the district championship.”

Fossil Ridge rolling

Here’s a scenario: You’re the quarterback of a team that just surpassed its 2012 win total by beating a team whose only district loss last year was to powerhouse Southlake Carroll.

Excitement usually comes with that territory, right?

Perhaps, but Keller Fossil Ridge’s Jacob Gnacinksi is taking the Panthers’ 4-1 start — bolstered by a 28-10 win last week over Justin Northwest — in stride.

“I’m just slowing down the game and seeing the field,” Gnacinksi said. “We’re just going to approach every week the same way.”

The senior completed 15 of 24 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns against Northwest, which entered the game 4-0. He also ran for 57 yards on 12 carries.

Fossil Ridge finished last season 3-7, including a 31-10 loss to Northwest. Now, the Panthers find themselves tied atop the District 4-5A standings at 2-0 with Carroll. Ridge plays Keller on Friday.

Gnacinski, who reports offers from New Mexico State, UTSA, Sam Houston State and James Madison, has thrown for 16 touchdowns, five interceptions and 1,335 yards this year.

Revived Chargers

One-win Keller Central last week delivered its best performance of the season in knocking off Keller 23-20.

“Our kids get up for these games when we play the other KISD schools,” said coach Bart Helsley, whose Chargers (2-3, 1-1 in District 5-4) have a four-year win streak against Keller (3-2, 0-2). “It’s the old one-week-at-a-time mentally. We just have to find a way to keep winning week after week and not worry about the rest. We just want to stay focused on what’s right ahead of us.”

Next is Keller Timber Creek on Thursday.

“It’s a quick week and Timber Creek has some talented kids,” Helsley said. “What Friday did for us was give us some confidence to build on. This district is competitive and there are going to be games each week that don’t go like you think they are going to.”

The confidence Central got came in large part due to senior kicker Hunter Morrow. He connected on 3 of 4 field goals, all from 40-plus yards. Morrows kicks were good from 40, 40 and the game-winner from 47 yards.

“Honestly, I just stayed calm the whole time and didn’t think about the kick,” Morrow said. “It’s just about what I need to do each time. I don’t really think about what to do, I just do it. Kicking is mainly muscle memory.”

Voting continues

Be sure to check out the fan vote for Player of the Week at The winner will be named in Thursday’s section.

Correspondent Greg Bogomol contributed to this report.

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