History continues to be made in Justin Northwest’s 2016 football season.
On Friday, the 57-11 victory at Azle gave this program nine wins for the first time in any season. Northwest reached eight wins in a season five other times.
As the Texans (9-1) open the Class 5A Division I bi-district playoffs Friday at Denton (9-1) at 7 p.m., they haven’t changed their entire history. In eight previous postseason trips, the Texans have lost. That’s 0-8. That’s a lot of frustration.
Coaches and players know the history. Northwest’s student body knows the history. The Northwest community knows the history. The 2012 and 2013 teams Bill Patterson coached came close but lost to Arlington Lamar by a touchdown in those meetings.
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“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Poe said. “Our kids get it. They know it. And really, we have nothing to lose. We have a chance to break the trend. We’re going to stay positive about things.”
Obviously, going on the road to play a postseason game in the other team’s facility doesn’t seem to be the best idea. But Poe said and he and Denton coach Kevin Atkinson couldn’t get any logistics resolved and wound up flipping home and home. Poe lost.
But if you’re going to change the fortunes of a program and its postseason disappointments, there could be no better way than to do it on the road in an environment where the majority of those in the stands are not pulling for you.
“We heard the story of how one team had a chance to beat Azle at Azle to get to nine wins, and that didn’t happen,” senior running back Syrus Moore said. “We weren’t going to let that repeat last week. We stayed focused and got it done. But we understand the challenge that faces us with Denton.”
The Broncos are in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and have won the bi-district round in the previous two, which is exactly what Atkinson set out to do when he arrived in 2012.
Atkinson’s son Colt has been very efficient running the Broncos’ offense throwing for nearly 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns against only three interceptions. Atkinson will not lock on to any target. Denton features four different receivers who have at least 22 receptions. The running game features 1,000-yard rusher Caleb Osuofa.
Of course, Northwest’s attack has been dynamic with Moore rushing for 1,458 yards and 18 scores. Junior quarterback Prince Mavula’s debut season has been more than what Poe and his staff envisioned. He’s thrown for more than 2,700 yards and hooked up with senior wide receiver Gavin Holmes for 1,395 of those yards and 16 scores.
There’s going to be the intensity and flood of emotions when the game begins. The issue the Texans have to navigate is surviving them and letting the game settle.
“We’re going into a hostile environment but that’s something that I think we can handle after the first few minutes,” Poe said. “This is all about bouncing back when things get difficult.”
The winner advances to the area round and meets the winner of Colleyville Heritage and Fort Worth Arlington Heights.