Seems like just yesterday we were previewing the upcoming high school football season. Now, here we are in the last week of the regular season. So, where exactly do we stand?
Well, if you’re Mansfield High or Lake Ridge, you’re clearing space in the trophy case for another district championship trophy. Legacy has punched its ticket to the playoffs. For Summit and Timberview, this week’s matchup takes on far more importance than bragging rights.
Timberview vs. Summit – win and you’re in (maybe)
One of these teams will make the playoffs. The other will be the lone MISD school left out of the big dance. There are a few complicated scenarios, but there’s one that’s very straightforward for Summit: win this game and you’re in.
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“Our playoffs start right now,” Jaguars coach Channon Hall said. “I’m sure Coach [James] Brown over at Timberview is saying the same thing to his kids. The playoffs have started. It’s win or go home. That’s where we’re at right now.”
Should Summit not win, well, see if you can follow this. The Jaguars can lose by less than 13 points and still get in if Midlothian beats Lancaster.
For Timberview, the Wolves need a win over Summit coupled with a Lancaster win over Midlothian. Or, to throw one more possibility at you, a Timberview win by 14 points or more and a Midlothian win. Got all that? At least it shouldn’t come down to a coin flip this year.
Hall would just rather not get into the points and potentials.
“That’s the only scenario that matters is that we handle our own business and punch our own ticket,” he said.
Reaching the postseason would be an accomplishment for the Jags, who most had forecast outside the playoffs entering the season.
“To be relevant in the last week of the season, that’s what you want,” Hall said. “We thought and still think we’re good enough to be one of the top four teams in this tough district. It’s one of the toughest in the state. You have to bring it every night and play good football. We did that at times; we let a few get away from us that I don’t think should have, but we’ve done enough to put ourselves in position to still get in. I think we’re in a good spot.”
Mansfield coach Dan Maberry won’t say it, but I will. The Tigers have rather quietly become one of the most consistent football powerhouse programs in the area. Mansfield has reached the postseason 10 of the past 11 years, and the win Thursday against North Crowley (4-5) made three straight undefeated district championships for the Tigers.
“We have had some consistency,” Maberry said. “I think we’ll compete each and every year. I think the kids expect that. And that’s a big part of it. When the kids expect to do well, that helps you as a program. I think these kids expect to win.”
Coming into 2017, the big question surrounding Mansfield was whether they were more than just graduated running back Kennedy Brooks, who powered the team offensively for three seasons. The answer has emphatically been yes, yes they are.
“After you lose guys like Kennedy and Saiid [Adebo], who are unbelievable playmakers, you wonder what you’re going to have,” Mayberry said. “But when we were going through offseason, I really felt like we had an opportunity to be better.”
That might sound surprising, but Maberry explained that with four returning offensive linemen and a majority of his defense coming back, the team would be more well-rounded.
Mansfield will get Keller Central in the first round of the playoffs. The Chargers have leaned on their defense this season, so an old fashioned, knockdown-dragout could be in the cards.
Lake Ridge claims the District of Death
It’s common refrain that District 10-5A is tough. One of the toughest across this great state. Need more proof? Lancaster, the team most commonly picked in the preseason to win the district, didn’t even reach the postseason.
But the Eagles are a win away from accomplishing the enviable task of running the gauntlet undefeated. Lake Ridge has earned at least a share of the district title and still faces a tough final challenge in Waxahachie to go unblemished.
“I don’t think in this district you ever feel like your team can [go undefeated] because it’s such a tough district,” coach Kirk Thor said. “Every team is so good and every week is a battle. I thought we had a chance to be a pretty good football team, but I also knew we had some steps to take to get the team playing the way they needed to play.”
Lake Ridge was 4-3 in this district a year ago.
“I think what I’m most proud about is that every week this team has gotten better,” Thor added. “Our kids didn’t get caught up in the hype. There’s so much emotion in the games. We had a tough non-district schedule as well. I think what I’m most proud of is that they just came to work every day. We kind took our lunch pail and hardhats and went to work.”
Lake Ridge will match up with Burleson Centennial in the bi-district round.
Déjà vu for Legacy?
Legacy finds itself in a situation very similar to what it was this time a year ago. The Broncos have one loss in district play — to the district leader — along with a non-district loss to Aledo.
Last season, Legacy used that as a springboard toward the regional final before losing a close one to state champion Highland Park. It set a new bar for playoff success for the Broncos, who rely heavily on two-way standout Jalen Catalon.
Legacy could still nab a share of the district championship, should Lake Ridge fall to Waxahachie and the Broncos take care of business with Red Oak this week.
The Broncos will face Burleson (8-1) in the bi-district round.