The longer this season has lasted for Carroll, the better and more consistent the Dragons are becoming.
That, of course, is what any head football coach wants. So call Hal Wasson pretty impressed with a team that replaced 10 offensive starters after 2013, is 13-0 and is facing reigning state champion Cedar Hill (11-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium in the Class 6A Division II Region I championship game (KWRD 100.7 FM; pregame 1 p.m.).
The No. 2 Dragons overwhelmed San Angelo Central, 35-10, this past Saturday at Baylor’s McLane Stadium.
“All three phases went very well, and that’s what you need this time of the year,” Wasson said. “The good thing is that we’re getting better and can still play at a higher level. As you keep playing, the better your chemistry is. All of your plays are running faster. The players know the concepts better. If you want to keep playing, you have to do that.”
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For quarterback Ryan Agnew, the playoffs have been revealing. He’s completed 67 percent of his passes through the first three playoff games against Mansfield, Denton Guyer and Central. After throwing three interceptions in the playoff opener, he’s been error-free since.
Carroll also saw the unveiling of Tariq Gordon’s athleticism as he had 157 receiving yards and a score against Central. Carroll’s offense has averaged nearly 44 points in the postseason.
“Tariq really stepped up and took advantage of some good balls,” Wasson said. “To be honest, it was tough in the opening weeks for Ryan. He took a lot of shots and had to dust himself a lot. But the protection from the offensive line is better, (running back) Lil’Jordan Humphrey has been more efficient, so you see those things all come into place.”
Now, it’s time for Cedar Hill
Go back to Nov. 7 and consider how close Carroll and Cedar Hill came to facing each other in the bi-district round. The Longhorns needed a touchdown on the game’s final play in order to beat South Grand Prairie, 37-35.
Had that not happened, the Dragons would have played the Longhorns and not Mansfield. But this is what Region I offers in these marquee matchups. Cedar Hill features one of the nation’s top recruits in wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge. Lodge has 958 receiving yards and 20 TDs through the first 13 games. Lodge had been committed to Texas A&M over the summer but changed his mind and re-opened his process. Everything points to him deciding between Ole Miss and LSU.
Meanwhile, running back Aca’Cedric Ware, who has verbally committed to USC, has rushed for 2,008 yards. Longhorns Quarterback Justin McMillan has thrown for 2,345 yards and 34 scores.
“They have some really special players,” Wasson said. “They’re every bit as advertised with a lot of playmakers. They’ll keep your heart pumping. You definitely won’t fall asleep on them during video.
“Lodge is an exceptional player. You just have to do your job on him. If he catches it, you have to tackle him immediately.”
With 1,780 rushing yards, junior Lil’Jordan Humphrey now owns Carroll’s single-season rushing mark … the Carroll-Cedar Hill winner advances to the state semifinals and will meet the winner of the Region II championship game between Spring and Spring Westfield. That game is being played at 7 p.m. Saturday at the University of Houston’s TDECU Stadium.