Antwan Roberson tucked a neon pink towel into his practice pants and tied an orange bandana around his head. He bounced from the locker room at Fort Worth South Hills to the far side of the football field, and he yelled like Ray Lewis before a Super Bowl.
It was only Monday, but the senior receiver was ready.
South Hills plays Fort Worth Arlington Heights 7:30 p.m. Friday at Scarborough-Handley Field, a matchup that is likely to decide the District 7-5A title and give an edge to two teams that have rolled through seven weeks of competition.
South Hills (7-0 overall, 3-0 District 7-5A) leads the state in scoring at 69.6 points per game, and the Scorpions have already matched their highest win total ever.
Arlington Heights (7-0, 3-0) has won 12 of its last 13 regular season games, dating to last season, when the Yellow Jackets finished 5-1 to make the playoffs. This year, they’ve beaten opponents by an average of 38.6 points.
“A lot of guys don’t get to play in an atmosphere like this or coach in an atmosphere like this,” Heights coach Phil Young said. “There won’t be much need for motivating from the coaches.”
Proving a point
But Friday’s game goes beyond playoff positioning. It will be a showcase for what Fort Worth teams can become but often don’t.
“When we played Grapevine, I think they thought a Fort Worth ISD team would be a weak link in their schedule,” Heights receiver Harrison Lewis said. “But not this year.”
Said Roberson, “We’re not trying to be too cocky, but we’re trying to make our point out there that we’re here, and you better come ready to play or you’re going to get something done to you.”
Heights won a state championship 66 years ago but hasn’t been a state contender in years. South Hills, meanwhile, has one playoff appearance, in 2006. Three years later, the Scorpions went winless.
“When I came here, we were always the underdogs,” South Hills linebacker Ben Herrera said. “Nobody really expected a lot from us.”
Building a program
J.J. Resendez arrived at South Hills in 2010, and the Scorpions went 2-7. Heights beat them 52-0. Southwest beat them 62-6. That year, South Hills’ quarterbacks threw more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (eight).
But Resendez was patient. He installed a spread offense and developed a core of young skill position players. Roberson and Treylon LaSalle played on varsity as freshmen in 2011.
This year, sophomore quarterback Tracin Wallace, who also started last year, has 39 total touchdowns. Nine have been passes to his twin brother Tylan, who leads South Hills in receiving.
“He is not a machine,” Resendez said of Tracin. “He’s a teenager. He just has an incredible work ethic. He’s probably his harshest critic.”
At Heights, Young is reviving his program, too. Heights made the playoffs nine times from 2002-2011. But Ged Kates left before the 2012 season and Heights went 2-8 under Todd Whitten. Then Whitten left and Young was promoted from offensive coordinator.
“You’re just continually taking steps up that ladder,” Young said last spring. “We challenged our kids that we can’t be satisfied.”
The Yellow Jackets are reminded daily of how high that ladder has gone for their program.
On Tuesday, Young reached above a door frame in his team’s field house and pulled down a black-and-white photo. He pointed to an engraving on the plaque. It was the Heights 1948 state championship team. He looked at the young faces and realized they were in their 80s by now.
Then he placed the picture back above the door and went to practice.
Head to head
|Category||South Hills||Arlington Heights|
|Points per game||69.6||49|
|Margin of victory||57||38.6|
|Points allowed per game||12.6||10.4|
|Category||Tracin Wallace (South Hills)||Deion Hair’Griffin (Arlington Heights)|