Mansfield is invading Abilene.
With both the Mansfield High Tigers and the Mansfield Timberview Wolves headed west to play their 5A Division II regional semifinal games Saturday, Abilene should brace for waves of Mansfield fans.
Mansfield (11-1) plays first, a 2 p.m. game against Abilene High (9-3); Timberview (10-2) will take on Abilene Cooper (9-3) at 7 p.m. Both games will be at Shotwell Stadium.
"Our game against Timberview had a great atmosphere, and that could help us," Mansfield coach Jeff Hulme said. "It's going to be a challenge for us to play on the road like this -- going there. But it could be fun, too, something we can use to our advantage. We can't pump in noise or anything like they do for college practices. It's something we will try to feed off of, saying there's nothing more fun than beating someone in their own place."
Even though Mansfield and Timberview are rivals, Timberview coach Mark Walker said he expects the whole city to cheer against Abilene. Fans will only need one ticket to attend both games.
"The other night, in Cowboys Stadium, we had the early game and they played after. We had a lot of carryover for that one," he said. "The city of Mansfield is very excited about what is happening with our football programs."
While there might be some overlap with Mansfield fans at the games, both schools are preparing for a hostile environment.
"I told my kids we will have to play like we're behind by seven from the start," Walker said. "We're in their back yard. Their kids aren't having to sit through a 31/2-hour bus ride. They are getting up after sleeping in their own beds with a normal routine and just driving down the road. We are adjusting because in our district we didn't have to travel that much."
If both Mansfield teams win, they will set up a rematch for the Region I championship. Mansfield barely beat Timberview on a last-second deep pass in the regular season.
"We are pulling for Mansfield because that will give us another Mansfield vs. Timberview game," Walker said. "That was a great game. It would be a great way to add to the rivalry."
No big yard
With a Cowboys home game today and Baylor playing Texas Tech on Saturday at Cowboys Stadium, the venue is out for high school games this week. That means two of the biggest matchups in the playoffs so far will be at Pennington Field in Bedford on Saturday. Southlake Carroll (12-0) will play Arlington Bowie (9-3), and Euless Trinity (12-0) will play Arlington Martin (11-1).
That's just fine with Carroll coach Hal Wasson.
"Personally, I love it," Wasson said. "I think it will be high school football at its purest entertainment. People will get packed in there. It's going to be incredible. I'm so excited for that electric atmosphere."
Tickets were still available Wednesday morning.
Fort Worth Nolan Catholic is preparing for a giant matchup against Houston St. Thomas in the TAPPS Division I state semifinals (2 p.m. Saturday, Temple).
"St. Thomas is huge," Nolan coach Joseph Prud'homme said. "They run the ball really well and have a good defensive burst. They have speed and they play aggressive. They really don't have any holes that you can exploit."
Nolan (11-1) hasn't lost since falling 39-36 to Dallas Bishop Lynch on Oct. 7. The Vikings will try to beat St. Thomas at its own game.
"We will need to control the football and capitalize on our possessions," Prud'homme said. "We can't turn the ball over or give up big plays. If we [don't] do those two things, we will have a great shot."
Brent Shirley, 817-390-7760