On a Friday night almost 53 weeks ago, Mansfield Legacy defensive lineman Taurean Carter sat in front of his locker at AT&T Stadium, overcome with emotion.
“Just the attitude in the locker room after the game,” Carter recalled. “Your brothers are in there, hurting. Everybody was crying. That feeling, it felt like somebody took a piece of me.”
It was the deepest playoff run ever for Legacy. A year later, the Broncos are back in the state quarterfinals again with a second chance to make history.
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Mansfield Legacy (11-2) faces Frisco Lone Star (12-1) on Saturday at 2 p.m. at SMU’s Ford Stadium.
“I worked so hard, put in so much effort — all of us did,” said Carter, who has been offered by SMU. “For someone to just take our ring away like that, it was devastating. So we’re making sure it doesn’t happen this year.”
Carter, who had a highlight reel sack in Legacy’s 45-35 victory over North Forney in this past weekend’s 5A Division II regional round, and his teammates try to use last year as motivation while understanding the differences in that team and this one.
“I feel like this team has something special about it,” junior quarterback/defensive back Jalen Catalon said. “Everybody accepts their role and they do it as hard as they can. That’s what helps us win. I feel really confident going into [this] week against Frisco Lone Star. It’s a tough team, but I feel ready for it.”
“It does [feel different],” running back Grant Johnson added. “There’s a different energy and vibe.”
There’s also a different level of expectation. Last season, Legacy could have leaned on the excuse that it was wading in uncharted waters. Not now.
“We expected to be here this year and we expect to win this week,” head coach Chris Melson said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. All the teams are great, so you just have to find a way to win. I believe in my staff and these players. They can find ways to win ball games.”
Catalon, who has added quarterback to his duties this season after featuring only as a safety last year, knows all the lettermen on this squad gained valuable insight during last year’s run.
“We know how to prepare now,” he said. “We know when you get to this point, every team is going to bring it. So you have to bring it every single time you come out. I know our team is going to be ready and we know what we expect.”
Mansfield Legacy vs. Frisco Lone Star
Records: Legacy 11-2; Lone Star 12-1
Time: 2 p.m. Dec. 9
Site: Ford Stadium, SMU