Before this week, if you were to ask a North Sider the last time the school’s football team opened a season 3-0, one would get the look of being hit with a pop quiz the day after staying up all night playing video games.
Eyebrows rose, lips became pursed, shoulders were shrugged.
Though no one seemed to know, there was a consensus formed.
“It wasn’t in our lifetime. We know it’s been a while.”
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A trip back in time to the last time Fort Worth North Side began a season unbeaten after three games would require some extra juice in Doc Brown’s flux capacitor.
The year was 1972. No one had yet heard of Jerry Jones or Bruno Mars. Elvis was alive and well, though slowing, and still shimmying.
However, there is now a more recent time.
The Steers defeated their archrivals, Diamond Hill-Jarvis, 32-0 on Friday before a lively home-side crowd at Farrington Field in the historic Fort Worth neighborhoods’ Battle of the Boot.
Coincidentally, they achieved the mark on the same date as the last 3-0 team.
“It’s a very humbling accomplishment,” said linebacker Rafael Carbajal, a senior captain who also returned the second-half kickoff for a TD on Friday. “Coming out 3-0 is a blessing, but it’s not just a blessing. We have worked hard. You get out what you put in.”
As North Side set a new standard, Diamond Hill continued a streak it hopes will soon end.
The Eagles lost their 71st consecutive game.
In defeat, though, Diamond Hill should see some hope in the eyes of their neighbors. The perennially underdog Steers have plenty of experience playing the role of the vanquished. North Side registered five wins in 2015-16.
Three victories don’t a season make for North Side. But unquestionably there is some energy seeping through walls these days of the venerable high school, where earlier Friday a spirited student body gave their football players a rousing sendoff.
The award-winning mariachis played, and the students, teachers, and the boss — the principal —danced. It was fun, and appeared to be a reflection of a healthy, hearty culture at the school and among the football players, who swayed arm-in-arm as the band played the school song after Friday’s victory.
They weren't done celebrating, though. Students and football players — about 400 in all — gathered on the field and danced the Caballo Dorado, the Tejano version of “Achy Breaky Heart.”
The football Steers are currently thriving because they’ve had a sip of the great intoxicant: a concoction of confidence, fun, and family. It has made them believe they can.
No matter how this season ends, that will be the lasting legacy left by 17 seniors to a program that boasts as alumni Horace Carswell and NFL players Sherrill Headrick and Yale Lary, a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
“We want the kids to know you can compete with anybody,” said Carbajal. “It doesn’t matter what size you are. If you have the heart and you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything.”
Said senior quarterback Alfredo Garcia, also a captain: “We want to leave something behind that the youngsters can follow up and make better.”
In Carbajal, the Steers also have a future college football player. He has committed to Texas A&M-Commerce. That’s a big deal to the underclassmen looking for a football role model.
The goal this season is a winning record. They want to get there and see where they stand at the end of the season. The top four teams in district advance to the playoffs, a word the Steers have whispered ever so quietly.
That’s looking way too far in advance, particularly in a sport noted for “taking it one game at a time.”
It takes more than Tom Herman fairy dust to get a date in the postseason.
However, for one night, the dear old school up the hill was living what felt like a fairy tale.