Linebacker Ben Carroll, defensive end Caleb McKee and their fellow Arlington seniors had never knocked off rival Lamar at the varsity level.
But the Colts overcame that hurdle Oct. 7 with a 17-13 victory against the Vikings. Carroll, McKee and sophomore Kyron White spearheaded a dominant defensive effort that featured three Colts interceptions. Arlington limited a talented Lamar offense to 56 passing yards and improved its district record to 2-1 leading into its game Friday against undefeated Bowie.
“That win was exhilarating for me,” Carroll said. “Our first win varsitywise against Lamar, which felt nice.”
Carroll helped set up Arlington’s first touchdown of the game — a 19-yard run by Ronterrius Williams in the first quarter — by rushing 24 yards for a first down on a fake punt. That bit of fourth-down deception had been installed in practice weeks earlier, but coaches were waiting for the right opportunity to unveil it in a game.
“I think it’s the trust the coaches have in us to execute,” Carroll said, explaining why the play worked. “It’s our overall effort.”
Lamar players weren’t the only ones fooled by the fake. Colts receiver D’Montae Davis was on the sideline when Carroll ran the ball. “I was sitting down,” the junior said. “All I heard was everybody screaming. I was saying, ‘What happened?’ I thought the other team blocked it. Then I saw Ben running across the field. I was like, ‘Oh yeah!’ It was cool.”
Davis created some excitement of his own in the third quarter. He found the end zone on a 4-yard pass from senior quarterback Caelen Day for a 14-13 Arlington lead. The Colts added a field goal and never trailed the rest of the way.
“They were doing their job staying on the field for a long time,” McKee said of the Arlington offense. “But we knew if we didn’t let [Lamar] score again, they weren’t going to win the game.”
To preserve the win, the Colts defense had to make a final stand with the clock winding down in the fourth quarter. The Vikings offense took over at its own 14 with 2:30 remaining. Lamar drove to the Colts 34 in the final minute. But a fourth-down pass was intercepted by White, his second pick of the game, to end the Vikings drive.
“It just unfolded from film and preparing all week for it, their sets, their plays,” White said of his game-clinching INT.
Arlington coach Scott Peach credited defensive coordinator Rick Keith and safeties coach Joe Gordan with preparing the defensive backs for the challenge of facing Lamar. “We’re really proud of our secondary,” Peach said. “Coach Keith and Coach Gordan have done a great job of preparing our guys against the pass. We’re aggressive back there. We’ve got a good scheme and it showed up big time, which was big against a team that likes to throw the football.”
Carroll and his fellow seniors briefly basked in the thrill of winning against Lamar, but their focus quickly shifted to Bowie and the rest of the challenging teams remaining on their schedule.
“Bowie’s one of the best teams we’ve faced. It’s going to be a dogfight,” Carroll said. “And we’ve got a long way to go, but we’re getting there.”
One of the biggest games of the year between Arlington school district rivals comes Friday, when Arlington hosts Martin at 5:30. The teams are likely fighting for district runner-up in 4-6A.
Lamar, another team in contention for the No. 2 spot, will take on district-leading Fort Worth Paschal at the same time, with home-court advantage.
Seguin hosts Crowley at 5:30 p.m., while Sam Houston visits North Crowley and Bowie hosts Mansfield, both games starting at 6:30 p.m.
The final month of the regular football season begins Thursday, as Arlington hosts Fort Worth Paschal at Maverick Stadium and Sam Houston hosts Mansfield at Wilemon Field at 7 p.m. Friday night action includes Martin visiting North Crowley, Lamar hosting Bowie and Seguin hosting Crowley at Wilemon. All games begin at 7:30 p.m.
Stephen English: firstname.lastname@example.org, @sbenglish74