For years, area high school football fans associated Mansfield with the corn-fed big uglies from the country and the speedy athletes from the outskirts of Arlington giving the city folk a run for their money on Friday nights.
Funny how things change.
What was once a one-school town is now comprised of three Class 5A high schools, a 4A campus, and a fifth high school opening next fall. And for the first time in the history of the school district, three football teams are still alive for the second round of the playoffs.
Mansfield High, Mansfield Summit and Mansfield Timberview are a combined 29-4 (which is the most combined wins in school district history), with two of those losses coming at the hands of one another.
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"To have a successful football program is not easy to do in the Metroplex because there are some very good teams and some great athletes," Mansfield school district athletic director Debbie Weems said.
"To be a part of that is certainly something we wanted to do and something we felt like we could do. And for us to get here, it's amazing."
Mansfield coach Jeff Hulme, whose 10-1 Tigers take on 2010 state runner-up Denton Guyer (8-3) on Saturday, said his team's ability to not hit the "panic button" during close games has spelled success.
"Regardless if you're up or down, just keep on keeping on and things will be OK," Hulme said.
The Tigers, who downed Grapevine 55-27 last week, have done it with a balanced offense that averages 40.7 points per game. They are led by quarterback Jerod Evans (30 total touchdowns) and are stacked with playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Senior defensive end Hassan Ridgeway is a future Texas Longhorn and junior defensive back George Baltimore will have a choice of playing basketball or football at the next level.
Junior tight end Trent Gow (6-foot-4, 235 pounds), along with several other Tigers, is also receiving interest from colleges.
Hulme said his team came into the season hungry for redemption after going 8-2 in the regular season last year before taking a 44-17 beating from Colleyville Heritage in the first round.
"I think last year we sort of got real happy and settled for making the playoffs," he said.
Conversely, Timberview, which manhandled Heritage 44-19 last week, took a completely different path to an 8-2 regular-season mark this year and overcame heartache along the way.
Timberview offensive coordinator Cody McCarty died of a heart attack last month, and quarterback Charles Taylor said much of the team's motivation is a result of that tragedy.
"Us backs, we always say we are going to do it for Coach McCarty," Taylor said. "We think of him every day, and we go out there and do it for him."
The Wolves, 3-7 in 2010, were a last-second Hail Mary pass by Mansfield and a turnover against Cedar Hill from posting an undefeated season.
Taylor has led the way, with nearly 3,000 total yards of offense and 29 touchdowns, and Timberview coach Mark Walker said the off-season work his kids put in made the all the difference.
"We set that goal in front of them and we created a form of competition every day in the off-season," Walker said. "Every team in this area has talent, it's that X-factor we keep talking about and latch onto."
The Wolves face Flower Mound Marcus (10-1) on Saturday with a chance to reach the regional round for the first time since 2007.
Summit (10-1), which made it to the area round last year after posting an 8-2 regular-season record, has the most playoff appearances in the past decade among Mansfield schools, but the Jaguars haven't seen this kind of continued success since current Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck was at Summit's helm.
The Jags made it to the state quarterfinals in 2004 under Beck and were loaded with talent.
This year is no different.
Running back Calvin Burns is second only to Aledo's Johnathan Gray among area 4A rushers with 26 touchdowns.
Quarterback Ryan Cuevas has accounted for 2,600 total yards of offense, and the Jags have three receivers in Jaylon Singleton, Donovan Ellis and Brendan Pegg who average around 15 yards per catch.
"Offensively, it has been our ability to get the ball in a variety of peoples' hands," said Summit coach Travis Pride, who was an assistant under Todd Dodge at Southlake Carroll and coached at the University of Houston and Wyoming. "And we have a bunch of good kids who understand commitment, work ethic and dedication."
Summit, whose only loss was to Mansfield in Week 3, also boasts one of the area's top defenses, led by linebacker Micah Awe, as the Jags allowed an average of only 17.9 points per game in the regular season.
"We know how hard we work; it is just a matter of executing on gameday," said Awe, a Texas Tech recruit.
Awe and the rest of the Jags' defense will test their mettle against Gray and two-time defending state champion Aledo (9-2) on Friday.