There is a period of adjustment that comes with any player transferring into a new football program.
While Southlake Carroll’s coaches hoped senior running back Audricke Gaines could be the answer to the running game, the Mansfield Timberview move-in had to understand the Carroll way of doing business. A program like this one, which has won eight state championships, is probably going to demand more and challenge more.
That all starts in the spring with the offseason program, spearheaded by the Dragon Maker. Gaines didn’t go through any of that because he came to Carroll in late July.
“You don’t know what you don’t know until you know,” Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. “But there is a period of adjusting to the climate. There’s probably some things that we do that would make you question, ‘What does this have to do with anything?’ But the only way he was going to know was adapting to us. We don’t surrender to anything. He’s a great kid. He knows.”
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The adjustment, transition or whatever you want to call it seems to have taken hold. Gaines (5-11, 190) has rattled off three consecutive 100-yard performances as the Dragons (5-1, 3-0 District 5-6A) face another challenge at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Flower Mound Marcus (4-2, 2-1).
Gaines (684 yards, 11 TD) was limited early because of a knee infection. Once that cleared and he understood what the coaching staff wanted, it seems to be going as well as could be hoped.
In four of his last five games, Gaines has rushed for at least 128 yards. He wasn’t as effective Sept. 9 at Rockwall, when he rushed for 55 yards. Yet his ability to hit the hole fast and read tendencies has keyed this trek.
It’s also brought balance to the Carroll offense. Senior quarterback Mason Holmes has completed 70 percent of his passes in district play. Senior Robert Barnes continues to be the difference-maker in the offense with his ability to stretch the field with his speed. Barnes has also lined up at QB in the wildcat look.
“We’re all better,” Wasson said. “Our offensive line is better. Our wide receivers are better. Mason is playing very confident right now. But we have a long way to go.”
The Dragons are also getting healthier. Defensive end Luke Jeter (undisclosed) was used sparingly last week against Lewisville but could be at full strength against the Marauders. Defensive back Barrett Buck (undisclosed) could be back Oct. 21 against Northwest Byron Nelson. Linebacker Ryan Thompson (undisclosed) is improving. It’s not clear when he will return but there’s hope he can return by the end of the regular season so he can contribute to a potential playoff run.
Having Jeter at full speed comes at the right time against the Marauders who have been pretty dynamic to this point. Quarterback Mike Henry (6-5, 220) leads a run-pass option approach in which the Marauders have scored at least 37 points in five of their first six games. Henry has accounted for 1,167 rushing and passing yards. Running back Justin Dinka is already at 1,003 yards.
“[Henry] is a big guy and a deceptive runner,” Wasson said. “It’s a two-headed approach and you have to be ready for what they do at all times.”
Note: Carroll’s game at Marcus can be heard on KWRD 100.7 FM with the pregame show starting at 6:30 p.m.