Diamond Hill-Jarvis perseveres during losing streak
Eight more games and Diamond Hill Jarvis will tie The Streak. Nine more and they will own what is believed the all-time record. The Streak, and this record, is the last thing they or anyone wants.
They have nine games to make sure The Streak belongs to another team and another school.
While Aledo just set the state record for consecutive district wins with 72, DH-J is doing everything it can do avoid the national record of most consecutive losses — 82.
“Yeah, we know about it,” Diamond Hill-Jarvis junior running back Jeno Mack said Oct. 19, after the Eagles lost 53-0 to state-power Kennedale at Farrington Field. “It’s hard. It hurts. It hurts a lot.”
“A lot of people say, ‘Y’all have no chance of winning.’ ”
Over the years, as the consecutive losses piled up, people in and around the school were only mildly aware of the national significance. When it was at 20, a few people knew. Up to 40, the curiosity grew. Today, with the Eagles riding a 74-game losing streak, it’s impossible not to know. They play at 1-6 Lake Worth on Friday.
The Streak isn’t funny. These are high school kids. The Streak is dispiriting, soul crushing and can break the morale of a kid who wants to play football as an after-school activity.
No one is espousing “everyone gets a trophy,” but 74 straight losses is demoralizing.
Diamond Hill’s last win was Sept. 18, 2010, a 31-7 victory over Dallas Jefferson. The Eagles’ scores since then are too unsightly to calculate, never mind list.
The Texas record for most consecutive losses is 80, set by Houston Davis from 1985-93. The national record is widely believed to be 82, set by Glascock County in Gibson, Ga., from 1990-99.
Since it’s high school, these sort of records, justifiably, don’t receive much attention.
Watching Diamond Hill Jarvis play is sad, frustrating, heart-breaking and inspiring. Despite the odds the players and coaches face each game, kids continually suit up to play, fully aware of the game’s outcome long before kickoff.
They still suit up to play in the hopes that maybe they can win. Maybe they can end this godforsaken streak and be known for something else. Maybe they can start a streak of a different kind.
“When I was thinking about taking the job, I Googled it and that was the first headline, ‘The hardest job in Texas high school football,’ ” said first-year coach Oscar Castillo, who arrived from Springlake-Earth, where he was a defensive coordinator.
During DH-J’s game against Kennedale, about 75 friends and family were accounted for to watch the game. This does not count the nine cheerleaders, 12 members of the dance team and 36 band members.
DH-J listed 33 players on its roster, which includes the four players who suffered injuries that night. Kennedale, the seventh-ranked team in Class 4A, was bigger, faster, stronger. It also had 46 players on its roster.
Halftime, which was set at 28 minutes to accommodate the band performances, was longer than the second half of the game, which went to a running clock.
As the first half progressed, three coeds from Diamond Hill sat halfway up the nearly empty stands at the 30-yard line. The game fills the time, they said, and one of them is dating a player on the team.
“There’s some hope,” DH-J freshman Lizbeth Sanchez said. “I mean, they are trying as hard as they can.”
Her eyes drift away to the field.
“Oh, another touchdown,” she said. “They scored again.”
Kennedale led 14-0 after the first quarter.
To fix some of this, second-year principal James Garcia immediately made some changes to at least snap The Streak.
“When I got here I said, ‘God did not place the worst athletes at Diamond Hill,’ ” Garcia said. “We have to change the perception.”
Garcia hired Castillo, who is bilingual and had no previous experience in the Fort Worth school district. Castillo changed the uniforms, brought in a strength and conditioning coach, and moved practice to the morning. Nearly all of his players have after-school jobs.
“This is not the first 0-10 job I’ve taken,” Castillo said. “You have to find little wins. I love the Cinderella story, but I was prepared for 0-10.”
He has kept the freshman on the freshman team, and the junior varsity on the junior varsity team. The hope is they will build some cohesion, some confidence, and that the success on the lower levels will translate up to varsity, thus ending The Streak.
“I do feel like if we can win a game it will change the mind-set,” Garcia said. “These are good kids.”
The freshmen team has won four games. The JV has had some success too.
“I used to hear this all the time when I was there,” said TCU senior Chris Rios, who graduated from DHJ. “Every off year, the freshmen team or the JV team would string together a couple of wins, and that’s good. That’s momentum. It just never translated into varsity wins.
“I’ve gone back, and the attitude toward that team is there are no expectations. People don’t want the team to go away, but a lot of the potential players don’t want to play football because they lose. The tradition was to lose.”
Then there is the issue of scheduling. Garcia is fairly confident when the UIL goes through reclassification in February, DHJ will remain 4A and with schools that will give them a chance to win.
Castillo and school administrators are doggedly trying to find a non-district opponent for 2018 that they know they will have a chance to beat. But that means those schools almost immediately say no because they don’t want to be the team that snaps The Streak.
With three games remaining, those on the team keep going. Keep practicing. Keep playing.
“I love football,” Mack said. “I want to keep playing so maybe I can earn a scholarship to go to college.”
In the process maybe Mack and his friends will find a win, because while it’s historically significant, there is nothing funny about The Streak.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof