State powers Southlake Carroll and Allen usually make other teams quake in their cleats. But Arlington Sam Houston coach Anthony Criss said even these perennial state powers should fear 6A regional opponents Arlington and Arlington Martin.
The Colts (10-2) are set to face Carroll (9-3) on Dec. 2 at the Ford Center in Frisco while the Warriors (11-1) take on Allen (12-0) on Dec. 1 at Dragon Stadium in Southlake. Criss knows what they’re up against. His Texans squad faced — and came up short against — the Eagles’ and Dragons’ regional opponents during 4-6A play.
“Both teams have really good offensive lines,” Criss said of Arlington and Martin. “Also, both teams possess what I refer to as dynamic duos. The QB-RB tandems are amazing.”
If you don’t take Criss’s word for how good the Warriors and Colts are, then just consider what that this tandem of Arlington teams did in the area round.
Arlington and Arlington Martin ran roughshod over the competition, giving the Arlington school district two teams in the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2015. That year, both Martin and Bowie reached that point in the postseason.
This kind of success has been a little longer in coming for the Colts. This is Arlington High’s first December football game since 2012.
The quarterback-running back combinations Criss touted sparked their team’s lopsided area-round wins.
In a 77-42 thrashing of El Paso Montwood in 6A Division II, Arlington senior quarterback D’Montae Davis rushed for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns and passed for two more scores.
His running backs, senior Kenland McCray and sophomore Zander Benson, also each rushed for more than 200, making these Colts the first single-game trio of 200-yard rushers in city history.
“We felt like going in, we were going to let them lead the way,” Colts coach Scott Peach said of his senior-laden offense.
Martin’s 41-10 throttling of Odessa Permian in 6A Division I also showed off a dual-threat quarterback, senior Juma Otoviano, and an impressive running back in junior Montrell Smith.
Otoviano scored on runs of six and seven yards and threw a touchdown pass while Smith rushed for 112 yards and two scores. As a team, the Warriors pounded out more than 300 yards on the ground.
“This is a result of all the work and effort they have put in, working on snow days, the lifts we did on Columbus Day, coming in on days off when they could have been out doing something else that might have been more fun,” Martin coach Bob Wager said moments after his team’s area-round win.
As impressive as their ground games are, Criss is equally floored by the Warriors’ and Colts’ ability to air it out when needed. The result of their offensive balance is that defending these two squads is like picking your poison.
“The great equalizer is that both teams can throw it and have more than one player that can catch it,” Criss said.
There’s still another element to consider in Arlington and Martin’s playoff surges: big-play defenses. Martin’s Jayce Godley swung the Permian game with a 99-yard fumble return for a score. The Colts, meanwhile, intercepted three Montwood passes.
“Momentum is everything in the playoffs,” Criss said. “And both teams are playing really well on both sides of the ball.”