It’s that time of the year when high school football gets really exciting, but also sometimes gets very confusing. The permutations and playoff scenarios in some districts could probably stump even Google’s top computers. Fortunately, this season is pretty cut and dry for schools in the Mansfield ISD. Here’s what we know.
Back-to-back district champs
Mansfield surprised a lot of people by winning its district last season. While not as surprising this year, it’s still a notable accomplishment for a team that lost 15 starters to graduation. The Tigers had already clinched a playoff berth, but added at least a share of the 2016 District 4-6A championship with a 34-14 win last Thursday over Arlington Bowie. A win over North Crowley on Friday gives them the outright title.
“I’m really proud of my kids. We’ve had some adversity throughout the year and a number of injuries we had to battle through,” said head coach Dan Maberry, pointing out the team defeated Bowie without stars Kennedy Brooks and Saiid Adebo. “To be able to come into this district and go 6-0 to this point, I’m really, extremely proud of them and excited about it.”
Not only do we know already that Mansfield is in, we actually already know their bi-district opponent. The Tigers will get Keller Fossil Ridge. Maberry admits he’s not very familiar with the Panthers.
“I don’t know a lot about them, but I know they’re a really good team. I know they’ve been a playoff team the last several years,” he said.
Welcome back, Broncos
After consecutive seasons without a playoffs appearance, Legacy is back in the postseason. The Broncos not only clinched a playoff berth but wrapped up second place in the dreaded District 10-5A with their 42-31 victory over Summit last Friday night. It was the first time Legacy has ever defeated Summit.
“It’s awesome. I feel great for these kids,” Broncos coach Chris Melson said. “They worked hard and had a goal and it’s a really good feeling. I’m just thankful we got it done.”
Legacy’s lone loss in district play was to champion Lancaster. The Broncos wrap the season with Red Oak on Friday night at R.L. Anderson.
“To win four games in a row in this district against the teams we’ve beaten says a lot about these players and these coaches,” Melson added. “They’ve done a great job working together. It’s an extremely great district, and we’ve got really good players that are playing together.”
It’s unlikely Legacy will be phased by any team it sees in the playoffs, having faced the likes of Aledo and the aforementioned Lancaster Tigers. Melson said his players actually took confidence away from the Aledo loss, given how they performed against one of the state’s best.
Legacy’s defeat of Summit also sealed the fate of the Jaguars, who will miss the postseason.
No coin flip necessary
After needing an infamous coin flip at a Whataburger in Midlothian last season to get into the playoffs, Timberview made sure this season was decided in a more traditional manner. The Wolves clinched their postseason appearance with a 35-7 thumping of Lake Ridge last Friday night.
Head coach James Brown was relieved to have survived to advance from the “district of death.”
“It definitely is that district,” he said. “It feels good. Obviously, you love to clinch as early as you can and not have to wait until the last week to get in and have all your eggs in one basket.”
Or on the luck of a coin bounce.
The Wolves have strung together impressive victories over Waxahachie and Lake Ridge to get themselves where they are, and are playing their best football of the season.
“We’ve played better as the year has gone on,” Brown said. “I don’t think we’re the same team we were three or four weeks ago.”
One of the sparks has come from freshman running back Stacy Snead, who was called up to the varsity a few weeks ago.
“He offers some things our other running backs don’t offer us right now,” Brown explained. “He’s a home run guy with great speed and can take it the distance.”
Timberview closes the season against Summit this Friday at Newsom, with little more than bragging rights on the line.
Win, you’re in
For Lake Ridge, the path to the playoffs is simple: beat Waxahachie. The final playoff spot from District 10-5A comes down to the last game of the season. Though disappointed the team hasn’t already secured a playoff berth, Eagles head coach Kirk Thor is happy to have his fate in his own hands.
“You always want to control your own destiny,” he said. “You never want to have to hope that someone else has to win or lose. But we’re a little disappointed we didn’t take care of business the last couple of weeks to have a chance to already secure a playoff spot. But you are what your record says you are, and we’ve got a chance to play one more week and we’re still in the hunt.”
Lake Ridge will need to wake up its offense, which posted its lowest point total in years in last Friday’s 35-7 loss to Timberview. The pressure is on, but Thor thinks his players are up to the task.
“The best thing to do is just get out on the practice field,” he said. “That’s what helps you. Once we get back out there, it takes a lot of that [extraneous] stuff away.”