Looking back at a year of positives for Mansfield ISD football

12/02/2013 9:50 AM

12/02/2013 9:51 AM

Another football season is in the books for Mansfield ISD schools, and there was plenty to be proud of for local fans. Four of the five Mansfield programs reached the postseason. Lake Ridge, the only school to not advance to the playoffs, showed significant improvement in just its second season. Here’s a look back:

Mansfield

After graduating more than 40 lettermen from the 2012 team that was an area finalist, the Tigers expected to encounter some growing pains from an inexperienced squad in 2013 – and they did. Mansfield finished the season 5-6 overall and 4-3 in District 7-5A play, but extended its postseason streak to four years. The Tigers’ season ended with a loss in the bi-district round to Waco Midway.

After starting 2-3, Mansfield earned its playoff berth on the strength of a three-game winning streak in mid-season in which they defeated Midlothian, Duncanville and Grand Prairie. Mansfield would end the season, with three consecutive defeats, falling to state-ranked Cedar Hill and DeSoto before facing Midway.

“The season was kind of a roller coaster,” defensive back J.T. Ibe said. “When we started off 0-2, we were kind of wondering, ‘Is this really going to be a 1-9 season?’ But we had to regroup and get ourselves together and when district came, we started winning.”

Caleb Evans and Aaron Funk shared time at quarterback in 2013, but as is common with Mansfield, the catalyst of the offense was a powerful running game. Julius Lewis powered the Tigers offense, accounting for almost 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

Despite returning only a pair of starters on defense, coach Jeff Hulme felt the Tigers again played strong on that side of the ball.

“The defense, replacing so many good players, and some of those guys stepping in for the first time and really figuring out what Friday night football is all about, that was a great surprise for all the coaches was how well our defense played and kept us in some ball games,” he said.

Legacy

It was a historic season for Legacy, as the Broncos rewrote several sections of their record book. Among other things, the program won 10 games in a season for the first time and advanced the deepest in the playoffs in school history.

“It was history-making for our school,” coach Chris Melson said. “A lot of history was made. We set a lot of school records in a lot of areas.”

Not only did Legacy win its opener for the first time, the school got off to a 6-0 start before stumbling against state powerhouse Ennis. The Broncos would end the season 10-3 with a 5-2 record in District 15-4A.

In the first round of the playoffs, Legacy dominated traditional East Texas power Tyler John Tyler. A week later, the Broncos set a school record for scoring in a 70-49 area-round victory against McKinney North. In that game, Kenton Mayberry set a school record with 347 yards rushing and six touchdowns.

“Both playoff wins were pretty special,” Melson said. “To beat John Tyler in the first round like we did – to manhandle them – that was awesome and unexpected. And to win in the second round like we did without K.J. [Amous] and without Terrence [Ivery] for most of the game, it was a huge team win. Those two wins were very special to our kids and our program.”

Amous and Ivery combined to rush for almost 3,000 yards this season. Mayberry also topped the 1,000 yard mark to give the team three backs over that milestone mark.

“It’s what they had in mind,” Melson said of his squad’s season. “They believed they could do it and we believed they could as well. We expected good things to happen and they did. The kids were awesome. We were able to pull together for 13 weeks and do great things.”

Lake Ridge

In most cases, a 2-8 season wouldn’t be considered successful, but after going 0-10 in its first year as a program in 2012, the Eagles made significant advances in 2013.

“We wanted to compete in every ball game, and I think all but two of them, the game came down to the last possession or last couple of possessions, so our kids made huge strides and gave great effort,” coach Kirk Thor said. “I think we took some of the steps we needed to take to building the foundation for a program at a new school.”

Lake Ridge notched its first-ever victory in the season opener against Burleson Centennial – a 77-75 thriller that took three overtimes to decide. Later in the season, the Eagles picked up their first-ever district win by beating Waxahachie 38-35 on the road.

“I think the first win in school history was big,” Thor said. “It was great to see the kids win a football game for the first time. That was a highlight.”

The Eagles used a high-tempo offense that produced a 2,000-yard passer in quarterback Jett Duffey and six receivers who had more than 100 yards each on the season. Running back Duke Carter surpassed the 1,000-yard mark on the ground, totaling 1,135 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns.

Hidden in Lake Ridge’s 2-8 record is the fact that the Eagles lost five games by a total of 15 points.

“Obviously, you’d like to have more wins,” Thor said. “I’m really proud of what our kids did. I think they left everything they had on the field. I think there’s a good foundation set for the years to come.”

Summit

Summit had a down year in 2012, finishing just 3-7, and after an 0-3 start this season, many were discounting 2013 as a rebuilding year for the Jaguars. But they rebuilt in a hurry, eventually getting to 5-5 and earning a postseason berth with a 5-2 run in District 15-4A play. Summit even won a playoff game, defeating Nacogdoches 25-15 in the bi-district round before falling to Wylie 49-18 in the area round, leaving the Jags at 6-6 for the season.

“I’m proud of us; I’m proud of what we accomplished,” said senior wideout Johnson Ubani, who lead the team in receiving yards with 640. “A lot of people said we weren’t going to do anything and finish second-to-last in district, but we proved a lot of people wrong.”

Head coach Travis Pride knew his club would be a work in progress this season, having to fill so many holes with inexperienced players, but as any coach hopes for, the growth was evident over the course of the season. Perhaps nothing revealed it more than the Jaguars coming through with must-win victories late in the season against rivals Legacy and 2012 state runners-up Lancaster.

The growth of sophomore quarterback Braden Nolen was a catalyst for the Summit offense, and he finished the season completing almost 60 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns. Jordan Hester powered the Jaguars’ rushing attack, finishing just 30 yards shy of the 1,000 mark for the season.

Timberview

Coming off a 3-7 season in 2012 and returning just two starters on offense, there were a lot of questions about what the Wolves could accomplish this year. Many of those questions were answered when Timberview jumped out to a 5-0 start to the season, including a 27-0 victory over Mansfield and a 49-14 victory against Summit.

The Wolves would end the season 8-4 and 4-3 in District 7-5A, good enough for a return to the postseason. Timberview also won a playoff game, defeating Killeen Shoemaker 28-14 in the bi-district round before falling 42-21 to local juggernaut Euless Trinity, which is still playing, in the area round.

“I’m just really proud of my team,” senior safety Brandon Simmons said. “We had a lot of young guys, especially on the offensive side of the ball. I’m proud of what they accomplished and what they helped us seniors accomplish. If I had to use one word to describe the season, I’d say proud.”

Timberview expected to lean on its defense and the unit came through. Only four times this year did the Wolves surrender more than two touchdowns in a game. Even in losses against state-ranked DeSoto and Trinity, the team held its own, and Simmons feels that says something about the 2013 Wolves.

“Even though we didn’t win, just how we rose to the occasion and played close with both of those top teams, I’m proud of that,” he said.

Senior quarterback Tevin Muse led the offense in both rushing and passing. He threw for just over 1,000 yards on the season while adding more than 500 on the ground. Junior Myron Gailliard was also a dual-threat, providing the offense with 375 yards rushing and another 269 receiving.

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