Arlington senior quarterback Caelan Day and his Colts teammates want to hit their opponents coming off the bus.
That’s not a threat. It’s football speak for starting the game with maximum energy and effort and trying to leave the opponent reeling.
“We always talk about getting off the bus,” said Day, who is counted on to lead an up-tempo offense. “Start it off with a spark. … The other team can shut down so easily if you come out strong off the bus.”
A favorable district schedule means it’s going to be a short bus ride. Arlington plays six of its seven District 4-6A games at UT Arlington’s Maverick Stadium. The Colts, who defeated Weatherford last Friday in their district opener, will be the home team for five games and the visitor against Martin. The seventh game is right down the road at AT&T Stadium.
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Maverick Stadium is just 0.7 mile from Arlington High. AT&T Stadium, the home field of the Dallas Cowboys, is 3 miles.
“We’re comfortable at home,” coach Scott Peach said. “We don’t have to travel. We’re going to get a big crowd because Arlington High always does a great job of supporting us at home. I think it’s going to be as good a scenario for our players as we’ve had in a really, really long time.”
It was at the friendly confines of Maverick Stadium earlier this season that Arlington showed the ultimate off-the-bus effort. The Colts scored in the opening minute on a fumble recovery and built up a 27-0 first-quarter lead against Duncanville on the way to a 57-37 victory.
“You have to come out playing the first quarter fast,” said senior linebacker Duson Sproles, who began the season at running back but switched to defense before the start of district play. “When you come out slow, it gives the other team the chance to build up their confidence.”
The Colts came out a bit slow in the early going in nondistrict road losses at Flower Mound Marcus and Garland Lakeview Centennial. Both games included hourlong bus rides, though Sproles said the Colts’ mistakes, not the travel, was primarily to blame for the outcome of both games.
“A lot of times those long drives can cause you to come out sluggish, which is what happened to us,” Sproles said. “I’m not blaming it on the long drive, but that stuff can happen.”
Ben Carroll, a junior strong safety, said the Colts get an added boost from performing in front of the home crowd. “It feels good because last year we played some road games that really took a toll on us,” Carroll said.
The Colts were on the road a lot last season. In October, storm damage at UTA forced Arlington to play a previously scheduled home game at North Crowley. As a result, Arlington gets an extra home game this time around.
“This nice long stretch of home games will be good for us because it’s familiar,” Carroll said. “It feels right.”
No matter where the Colts play, the task is always the same: to play fast, make fewer mistakes than the opponents and try to win. “The field is still 100 yards,” Sproles said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Fort Worth, Dallas or right here in Arlington.”