As the playoffs get set to begin for the Mansfield football team, the 4-6A district champions have some high expectations.
Mansfield had a phenomenal run in 2015, getting all the way to the state semifinals before losing to Austin Lake Travis.
The Tigers defeated the likes of Colleyville Heritage (45-22), Flower Mound Marcus (48-21), Arlington Lamar (34-29) and the always game Denton Guyer (44-7) to get to that point.
First-year head coach Dan Maberry has Mansfield on the precipice of of what could be another good run, and he said he is feeling good about the way his team is competing.
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“I am very proud of my team, the way they have progressed throughout the year,” Maberry said. “We want to be playing our best football when the playoffs get here. I think we still have room to improve and that is exciting.”
The Tigers will be taking on Keller Fossil Ridge in the bi-district round at 7 p.m. Thursday at Newsom Stadium, and Maberry said he feels certain that the Panthers will give his team all that they can handle.
“Fossil Ridge is a very good team,” Maberry said. “They play hard on both sides of the ball and they will be a tough team to prepare for.”
The Panthers feature one of the best running backs in the area in Anthony Smith, who had rushed for 1,221 yards and 15 touchdowns heading into Fossil Ridge's season finale against Keller on Friday.
Fossil Ridge also has the second-best rushing defense in District 3-6A, giving up 116.3 yards per game in 2016.
Mansfield and Fossil Ridge have had no mutual opponents this season, although they would have squared off in the playoffs in 2015 if the Panthers had defeated Marcus in the bi-district round.
Maberry said that he believes his team is capable of having another strong run into the playoffs this season and said to do that, it will take a couple of things.
“We have to stay healthy,” Maberry said. “This time of year you will always battle injuries, and we have to fight through it. We also have to keep coming together as a team. The more unified we are as a team, the more our playoff successes will happen.”