Not since the days of coach Roy “Pete” Campbell, circa 1979, has a North Side High football team made the playoffs.
We’re only two weeks into the season, but the Steers are off to a good start.
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Fort Worth North Side has seized early momentum for its 2017 campaign with victories over Dallas Jefferson (29-8) and Fort Worth Carter-Riverside (37-12) – its first 2-0 start since at least 1996.
“Coach Joseph Turner is doing a great job at North Side. He’s brought enthusiasm to the program and has built it from the middle school up,” said Dean Pritchett, FWISD Assistant Director of Athletics. “We’re very excited about the start North Side is having and the players are a reflection to their coaches.”
Turner, a former TCU running back, is in his third year as head coach, and he’s already seen the difference in his squad. This season, 95 players participated in football - up from 74 in 2016.
“There’s different leadership,” Turner said. “Guys have stepped up big time here and are doing what needs to be done and it started during the off season and summer. We’ve also run the same system so now the kids can think less and play faster, and it’s helping us out tremendously.”
After years in the basement of the Fort Worth district – a 34-166 record over the past 20 seasons – the cultural tide is gradually heading in the right direction, but Turner knows there is more to be achieved.
“It does feel good, I’m not going to lie and say it doesn’t, but we have a bigger goal in mind,” he said. “We’re taking it one game at time, one practice at a time. Carter-Riverside is done and over with and now we’re focused on Diamond Hill-Jarvis, but it does feel good.”
The Steers take on the Eagles, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at Farrington Field.
“We don’t want to look too far into the future and think about the possibilities of what we could do,” said Turner, ever the cautious coach.
Defending Class 5A Division II state champ Aledo and Mansfield Legacy – who play each other this week are also 2-0.
Other area teams off to good starts include Burleson, Wyatt, South Hills, Richland, Saginaw Boswell, Justin Northwest, Mansfield, Arlington, Martin, Keller Fossil Ridge, Timber Creek and Granbury.
Granbury coach Chad Zschiesche (rhymes with cheezy) is in his second season with the Pirates. A June hire, he credits a full off-season with the team’s 2-0 start.
“It’s been evident that has played a huge role,” he said. “Now the kids know what the expectations are and what it’s like to work year around – to believe in themselves and to buy in.”
Granbury last started 2-0 in 2013.
“There’s a certain excitement level and buzz around the town, schools and community,” Zschiesche adds. “According to some of the local fans, it’s something they haven’t felt in some time.”
The coach praises his offensive and defensive lines, along with linebackers Braeden Derouen and Tyler Pippin, quarterback Kevin Moore, running back Ty Williams and receiver Zack McCreight.
“I’ve been impressed with the effort and the physicality the kids have brought these first two weeks,” Zschiesche said.
When Turner took the North Side job in 2015, his first objective was to go .500, and while the Steers have a shot at that this season, he has accomplished others.
“Another goal of mine was to have a high passing rate at the school,” Turner said. “Ever since I got here, our passing rate has been 95 percent as a whole, varsity and junior varsity, so I’m pleased at an academic standpoint.
Senior linebacker/tight end Rafael Carbajal is committed to Texas A&M-Commerce, and Turner believes he’s the first athlete to receive a football scholarship at the school in nearly 20 years.
“College ball was a huge goal of mine,” Turner said. “I wanted to see guys go play in college. We have Rafael going and now others are starting to believe that they can too.”
The former Horned Frog still keeps in touch with coach Gary Patterson and tries to go to as many games as possible. He shares some of his tales to help motivate his team.
“The best thing is to tell them stories that they can relate to,” Turner said. “I just told them the other day how in 2005 when we beat Oklahoma and then lost to SMU the next week. I want them to understand that they shouldn’t get fooled by that trap game - don’t fall complacent and work hard every single time.”
WEEK 3 PREDICTIONS
(Predicted winners in bold)
Lamar vs. Central
Independence vs. Eaton
La Vega vs. YMLA
Summit vs. Paschal
Hillcrest vs. Eastern Hills
Highland Park vs. Timberview
Fossil Ridge vs. Saginaw
Richland vs. Haltom
LD Bell vs. Keller
Timber Creek vs. Flower Mound
Weatherford vs. Burleson
Plano East vs. Arlington
Bowie vs. North Mesquite
Marcus vs. Mansfield
Martin vs. South Grand Prairie
North Crowley vs. Cleburne
Northwest vs. Byron Nelson
Rockwall vs. Carroll
Plano West vs. Hebron
Lewisville vs. McKinney Boyd
Colleyville Heritage vs. Trinity
Legacy vs. Aledo
Crowley vs. Azle
Birdville vs. Boswell
Centennial vs. Brewer
Southwest vs. Chisholm Trail
Arlington Heights vs. Wichita Falls
South Hills vs. Adams
Trimble Tech vs. Castleberry
Molina vs. Western Hills
Diamond Hill-Jarvis vs. Carter-Riverside
Grapevine vs. Frisco Heritage
Jefferson vs. Polytechnic
Everman vs. Stephenville
Springtown vs. Granbury
Joshua vs. Turner
Poteet vs. Lake Ridge
Corsicana vs. Lancaster
Midlothian vs. McKinney
Athens vs. Red Oak
Ennis vs. Waxahachie
Alvarado vs. Kennedale
Lake Worth vs. Godley
Glen Rose vs. Mineral Wells
Benbrook vs. Grandview
Melissa vs. Life Waxahachie
Quinlan Ford vs. Venus
Brock vs. Grapevine Faith
Cistercian Prep vs. Trinity Valley
Country Day vs. St. Andrew’s
Greenhill School vs. Oakridge
Dallas Chr. vs. Fort Worth Christian
Pantego Chr. vs. Southwest Christian
Plano John Paul II vs. Grace Prep
Nolan Catholic vs. All Saints
Colleyville Covenant vs. First Baptist
Sam Houston vs. Dunbar
Midlothian Heritage vs. Decatur
Wyatt vs. Seguin
Last week: 40-23
Season: 79-47 (62.7 winning percentage)