Two months ago the Carroll school district board of trustees approved the hiring of Riley Dodge – bringing the 2006 state champion quarterback back home.
Well, you can check off one of the many things on his never-ending to-do list: Spring ball is complete.
Southlake Carroll held its spring football game on Wednesday at Dragon Stadium and a few hundred fans watched as the Dragons scored three touchdowns.
“The spring game went great – it’s more of a community thing and we’re just trying to get out of it healthy, but it was a great night and I appreciate all the support and everyone coming out,” Dodge said.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Incoming senior quarterback Will Bowers and running back T.J. McDaniel were the first to score when the two connected on a short slant. McDaniel, who has offers from Oregon, Clemson and more, broke three tackles for a 15-yard touchdown.
Bowers, who accounted for 38 touchdowns last season, said Dodge has brought in new energy in such a short span.
“He’s been great,” Bowers said. “He’s brought a lot of new energy in the building. I love coach Dodge – he’s a great man of faith and we’ve built a great relationship so far.”
Dodge knows it’s a process to build that trust.
“It’s a daily process. You have to show these kids how invested you are,” he said. “Obviously I have a unique perspective on this place. I tell them all the time, I grew up in the field house just like they are and dressed in the same locker room so I’m one of them. I think it was easier to gain their trust because of that.”
The Dragons went 10-4 last season and reached the Class 6A Division II state quarterfinals.
Other key returners coming back for 2018 include 2019 and 2020 linebackers Michael Parrish and Graham Faloona, 2020 offensive tackle Andrej Karic and 2020 cornerback and receiver R.J. Mickens, a 4-star prospect.
“We’ve picked up at a really good spot and we had a really good spring,” Mickens said.
McDaniel and Mickens made the Star-Telegram football all-star team. Mickens has offers from Alabama, Baylor, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State and more.
He recorded 99 tackles, 13 pass deflections and caught nine touchdowns in 2017.
“Coach Dodge has done a great job coming in here and earning everyone’s trust," Mickens said. "He came in just like a professional – you couldn’t tell he’s 29. He’s come in with a lot of juice and has done a great job.”
One of Dodge's most significant moves this offseason was his ability to convince four-time state champion Steve Lineweaver to come out of retirement. He’s now one of his assistant coaches.
“When I reached out to him, it was an easy connection for sure,” Dodge said.
Lineweaver retired following the 2014 season after 22 years as head coach. He went 259-43-2 and won four state titles, three at Euless Trinity, one with Commerce. He was head coach at Trinity from 2000-14, going 176-29 with titles in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Lineweaver served as Carroll’s baseball coach in the early ‘90s and took the Dragons to a UIL state tournament. He was also an offensive coordinator for Bob Ledbetter and helped win two state titles and break the national record of 72-straight wins in 1993.
He left Carroll after seven seasons for Commerce and won a state football title in 1999.
“Coach Lineweaver has done a great job and he’s unbelievable with the kids,” Dodge said. “He’s a great resource – just the knowledge and attention to detail – not just for me but the whole coaching staff.”
Carroll joins a district with Denton Guyer, Keller, Fossil Ridge, Timber Creek, Central, Haslet Eaton and Byron Nelson.
The Dragons open the season Aug. 30 vs. South Grand Prairie at Gopher-Warrior Bowl. They host Colleyville Heritage and Odessa Permian in Week 2 and 3.