Carroll head football coach Hal Wasson and athletic director Darren Allman are advising fans and other interested third parties to arrive early at Dragon Stadium on Friday for what is expected to be the most anticipated bi-district playoff in Texas.
The Dragons (8-2) face No. 3 Cedar Hill (9-1) in a Class 6A Division II playoff opener at 7:30 p.m. Friday (KWRD 100.7 FM). The winner advances to the area round and faces the winner of Denton Guyer-Lewisville Hebron.
This rematch from the epic 2014 Region I championship game will be decided by how well each team’s defense can make plays in space. Cedar Hill won the up-and-down affair at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium, 62-42, on the strength of a 29-point fourth quarter. The team combined for 1,182 yards in total offense.
The 2015 editions have seen major changes. There are new quarterbacks. There are different receiving options. The running games present a different challenge. But there really hasn’t been much of a drop off.
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Carroll has lost its two games (Austin Westlake and Euless Trinity) by eight points. Cedar Hill lost to Mansfield by three points.
The Longhorns don’t feature a 1,000-yard rusher or a 1,000-yard receiver. But they have been able to distribute the wealth with each phase. Four different Cedar Hill receivers have at least 20 receptions led by Camron Buckley (28-405). But the receiving game should get an extra option when Jaylon Jackson returns. The junior missed the regular season with a torn ACL he suffered during the offseason.
What the Longhorns do have is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback in junior Avery Davis. Davis has thrown for 1,976 yards and 22 TDs and rushed for a team-leading 795 yards.
“We don’t vary our routine in the way we prepare,” Wasson said. “I know some other teams do it. We just like to keep things the same.
“With Davis, the thing you notice with him is that no play is ever dead. He’s got a very strong arm. He’s active and has great speed. Anytime you face someone like that, it makes your heart race.”
The running game has been spread between Marquise Foreman and Stephenville transfer Kaegun Williams. The two have combined for 1,000 yards.
Carroll’s linebacker corps got a boost last week in the regular season finale against Hurst L.D. Bell (a 56-7 Dragon victory) when linebackers IV Seacat and John Miscoll returned from their injuries. The two saw enough snaps to get into a rhythm as they prepare to play the Longhorns.
“I don’t know if [they’re] 100 percent,” Wasson said. “If you’re feeling really good, then you’re putting your equipment away. If we’re missing tackles, it’s going to be a long night. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. We have to trust what we see and do our best to close the windows.”
Wrapping up the finale
The Dragons were once again able to empty their roster last Friday when they handled Hurst L.D. Bell in the regular season finale at Dragon Stadium. Quarterback Mason Holmes tuned up by throwing for 246 yards. He’s thrown for 2,391 yards and 31 touchdowns this year. Running back Lil’Jordan Humphrey surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season. For his career, Humphrey has rushed for 3,506 yards.