Carroll head football coach Hal Wasson is never one to make excuses.
Unlike his counterparts at Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine, who have been pretty injury-free, Wasson has been dealing with what could be considered a mash unit. At least seven Carroll starters didn’t play or went out during the non-district season because of injuries.
“I’m never one to use injuries as an excuse,” Wasson said. “For me, if anyone was out, I looked at it as a situation where people had a great opportunity to step up and play and make something happen.”
Still, it’s a relief when front-line players return. Carroll (2-1) will start to see some of that this week as the Dragons open District 5-6A play Friday at Flower Mound (1-2).
Limited because of a bad ankle, offensive lineman/defensive lineman Ryan Miller should be close to or at 100 percent. Wide receivers Jacob Copeland (hamstring) and Hudson Taylor (hamstring) should be ready. Defensive end Jackson Cantor (undisclosed) is expected to return as early as Sept. 30 for Euless Trinity.
Carroll is still missing linebacker Ryan Thompson (undisclosed), offensive lineman Justin Lee (undisclosed) and wide receiver Colton Phillips (undisclosed). Those three are not expected to be a part of this lineup anytime soon.
Following the 21-10 loss to Tulsa (Okla.) Union in the opener, a change in the intensity in the way things were done followed. It not only applied to how the Dragons worked physically, it challenged them mentally. You name the drill or the exercise, the players probably went through it.
“You ask my coaches and they’ll tell you the last several weeks it’s been turned up significantly,” Wasson said. “From a volume standpoint, everything picked up…reps, mental work and physical intensity. That also went in to holding guys accountable.”
The district season, though, will always get Carroll’s attention. As tradition states, the goals are to win a district championship and to be playing on Thanksgiving weekend beyond. The latter means the program is in position to challenge for a state championship.
That didn’t happen in 2015. Although Carroll went to the postseason, this team didn’t win the district championship and it was out of the postseason by the area round.
Opportunity returns for the next seven weeks. That includes the meeting with the rival Trojans. But the Jaguars come first.
What Wasson wants is to see a team that is ready to seize the moment. If the opponent turns it over on its own 40-yard line, this team has to score off it and break a team’s will. Defining moments turn a football game.
“Everything you do has to come with consequence,” he said. “There’s really nothing been wrong with our practices. I’ve been doing this for the last 35 years. The last piece that you have to fix is the mental toughness. I think we’re getting there.”
Note: Carroll’s game against Flower Mound can be heard on KWRD 100.7 FM. The pregame show begins at 6:30. A 45-minute post game show follows.