Their names still summon the respectful nod in Texas high school football circles. Between Southlake Carroll and Euless Trinity are 11 state championship trophies. Carroll has eight. The Trojans of Trinity own three.
The Dragons (3-1, 1-0) meet the Trojans (2-2, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bedford’s Pennington Field in a District 5-6A contest. It’s the seventh all-time meeting. Carroll leads, 4-2. The average margin of victory is 5.7 points. The anticipation for this game is always unparalleled.
But these proud programs are in what’s considered a championship drought. Trinity hasn’t won a state title since 2009. Carroll’s last title was in 2011.
Playoff runs also haven’t been so deep lately. Carroll has not advanced past the area round in its two previous trips. Trinity has been eliminated in the bi-district round in its two previous trips.
Right now, it’s really hard to win in the Metroplex. Sometimes, teams have more experience and better players. But the coaching in the area is really good.
Carroll head coach Hal Wasson
Everything is relative. It’s not a dust bowl. Still, it’s a little different from what fans and followers are used to.
“There are not the same players as 10 to 20 years ago,” Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. “What I’ve admired about Carroll and Trinity is that they have been consistent. We’re going to get everybody’s A-plus game.
“Right now, it’s really hard to win in the Metroplex. Sometimes, teams have more experience and better players. But the coaching in the area is really good.”
Wasson isn’t kidding. Look at the early 2016 playoff exits for both. Trinity lost to perennial power Allen in 6A Division I. The Eagles advanced to the state semifinals. Carroll fell to eventual 6A Division II state champion DeSoto.
The 2017 starts have been far from dominant. Trinity struggled in its Sept. 1 opener, a 38-7 loss at Tulsa Union. It also fell to Colleyville Heritage at home, 31-14, on Sept. 15 and didn’t score in the second half.
Trinity coach Chris Jensen said it was a product of his defense being on the field for too long. The Trojans defense was out for more than 60 snaps. That’s very un-Trinity like. There have been some defensive injuries, but the secondary took a tough loss when safety Cam’Ron Jones, a national Division I recruit, transferred to Mansfield.
However, Trinity’s signature running game continues to perform at a high level at 246 yards per game. The Trojans still want to wear out the opposition.
“What we learned from 2015 and last year was that the most important game was the next one,” Jensen said. “That hurt us when we were 10-0 [in 2015], and it’s human nature to be full of yourself. We’d love to be 4-0, but we’ve taken some valuable lessons.”
Streaks symbolized their strength. Carroll owns the third-longest winning streak in the history of Texas at 49 between 2004-2007. Trinity put together a 69-game district winning streak from 2005-2014. That’s tied for second all-time with Aledo.
“The atmosphere from being a fan to being a player is huge,” Carroll senior left tackle Jackson Kimble said. “You have two tradition-rich programs. The biggest challenge as a player is not listening to the clutter. You can’t be robotic. It’s probably going to be a sellout.”
Few can argue with Carroll’s offense and this program’s reputation of playing the game with a high IQ. The Dragons have averaged nearly 38 points per game and surpassed 40 points twice. Quarterback Will Bowers may not have the biggest arm. But he’s been efficient completing 72 percent of his attempts. Led by Kimble, Carroll’s offensive line is viewed by many opposing coaches as one of the best in the area.
However, Carroll’s defense has struggled. It’s allowing 33 points per game and surrendered 28 points in the second half in its 50-33 loss to Arlington Martin.
“Look over the course of time and those attributes of Carroll and Trinity have been earned,” Wasson said. “I told our players that they inherited the reputation for what has been accomplished. But now it’s their turn to earn that. What they have to do is keep that target on the chest.”
Friday’s game won’t paralyze anybody’s playoff hopes. It represents the halfway point of the season. There’s time for each to correct or minimize concerns. There’s nothing either can do about the past.
So much of this is about matchups and being able to maintain that intensity for 48 minutes. Jensen has stressed that recent history doesn’t mean anything. It’s about now.
“Our philosophy is, “Doesn’t matter, get better,” Jensen said. “All I ask of them is to play to the level that they can. As long as they do that, we can live with ourselves.”
Carroll-Euless Trinity can be heard on KWRD 100.7 FM with the pregame show beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Carroll-Euless Trinity all-time series
Carroll leads 4-2
2006: Carroll 22, Euless Trinity 21
2012: Carroll 16, Euless Trinity 7
2013: Euless Trinity 42, Carroll 38
2014: Carroll 10, Euless Trinity 6
2015: Euless Trinity 37, Carroll 35
2016: Carroll 42, Euless Trinity 28
Source: Lone Star Football Network