Close losses now becoming victories for Lake Ridge football

Posted Monday, Oct. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Mansfield Lake Ridge, winless in 2012, took a step in the right direction last week, beating Waxahachie 38-35 for the Eagles’ first district win.

Lake Ridge (2-6, 1-4 District 15-4A) had been coming close. The Eagles dropped three of their first four district games by a combined nine points. They also lost to District 7-4A co-leader Granbury 44-41.

“We’ve been in some pretty close games,” coach Kirk Thor said. “I was really excited for our kids. Their attitude has been great and being able to see them be excited.”

Thor credits the improvement to two factors: stability and having an off-season in the weight room. The Eagles had only six seniors last year.

“Last year to play varsity was really tough,” Thor said. “You need some off-seasons, some development time for your kids. You can’t rush growth. Sometimes it just takes more time.”

A quick glance at Lake Ridge’s results provides plenty evidence of progress. The Eagles lost last year to Burleson Centennial 62-7.

This year, they beat Centennial 77-75. They lost to Granbury 35-7 last year. And against Red Oak and Lancaster they lost 61-7 and 70-6, respectively, but lost to each team this year by one point.

Thor enjoys the job of rebuilding, and, in this case, building a program.

“I think some coaches love to go to a place and maintain a tradition, and I think some coaches like to rebuild,” he said. “I enjoy rebuilding. That energizes me.”

Ridge is in

Keller Fossil Ridge won three games last season.

This year, with two weeks left in the regular season, the Panthers (6-2, 4-1 District 4-5A) have clinched a playoff berth after a 40-6 victory over Haltom on Friday.

The victory came after a 13-9 loss to Keller Central the week before.

“We weren’t worried about [losing to Central],” Fossil Ridge coach Tony Baccarini said. “That had to do with a lot of things other than football.”

Senior wideout Ryan Parker led the Panthers with three catches for 90 yards and a touchdown against Haltom.

Parker, who played football his sophomore year then opted to focus solely on basketball last year, leads the Panthers with 41 receptions for 766 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also returns punts and kicks, Baccarini said.

Now, the Panthers get a shot at district leader Southlake Carroll on Thursday.

“We’re looking at [Thursday] as trying to win a district championship,” Baccarini said. “Our No. 1 goal is to get in the playoffs then having an opportunity to win district.”

Eight would be great

Mansfield Legacy (7-1, 4-1 District 15-4A) has a chance this week against Mansfield Summit to tie the school record for wins in a season.

Legacy began varsity football in 2007, and the 2009 team went 8-4.

Getting past red-hot Arlington Seguin last week, 44-41, helped erase a 56-18 thumping at Ennis the week before.

“Relief, joy and exhaustion. It was just a lot of emotion and excitement,” coach Chris Melson said, describing the Broncos’ postgame locker room. “For them to rebound and play so hard for the whole game, it was a great statement. We were pretty angry and frustrated at what happened at Ennis.”

Within reach

Fort Worth Arlington Heights (4-4, 4-1 District 7-4A) has won four consecutive games since a 77-point loss to Aledo on Sept. 27. The result is third place in 7-4A. A Yellow Jackets’ win Friday against Fort Worth South Hills on Friday clinches a playoff berth.

“Playing Aledo was really good for us,” Arlington Heights coach Phil Young said. “I don’t like getting beat — none of us do — but you can take a lot of good out of a loss. We really had to make some adjustments. Fortunately for us, they responded to the challenge.”

Sophomore quarterback Deion Hair-Griffin has led the resurgence, having thrown for 12 touchdowns and rushed for seven scores this season.

“He’s a humble player, and he’s a very hard-working player and that’s a good combination because he never thinks he’s doing very good,” Young said. “He comes to practice every day with the mentality that he wants to get better because he doesn’t know very much.”

Voting continues

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

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