How do you get ready for a football district as tough as 10-5A? If you’re a Mansfield school, you apparently play a non-district schedule every bit as tough.
Lake Ridge, Legacy, Summit and Timberview have all lined themselves up with some high quality opposition over the first three weeks of the season in preparation for the weekly dogfights expected in district play.
“To play teams like these is a really good tune-up for our district,” Lake Ridge coach Kirk Thor said. “The more you can add challenges to your schedule, the better off your team can be.”
They probably could have taken an easier road into district, scheduling a few likely victories in the mix, but the general thought process is that preparation precedes overall records when it comes to the games that matter for getting you into the playoffs — and eventually the playoff games themselves.
“When we get to district, it won’t be a shock,” Thor said, talking about the increasing level of competition. “You can see that [transition] from non-district to district, but you can also see that from district to the playoffs.”
The Eagles’ non-district slate is Denton Guyer, which received at least one vote in the AP State 5A poll (and which defeated the Eagles 37-21 in the opener); Prosper, ranked No. 19 in the area by the Dallas Morning News; and Mesquite Poteet, which also received votes in the state poll and was ranked No. 5 in the area by the Dallas Morning News.
“We don’t have any dips in the schedule,” Thor said. “Our kids know they have to prepare each week. I really like that type of schedule. I like the kids to play some of those challenging non-district games to get into the intensity. If you play teams where you know there a big talent imbalance, I think it hurts your team because you make a huge jump into the district.”
Legacy has Wichita Falls Rider and Crowley on the schedule before meeting the preseason AP No. 2 5A team in the state, Aledo, on Sept. 15.
“I scheduled Aledo because I felt like we wanted our program to go to the next level and be a team that contends for state championships,” Broncos coach Chris Melson said. “I felt like if we can compete with those guys, our kids and community would have the confidence and think we can win a state championship. We scheduled them for a reason.”
Legacy lost to defending state champion Aledo last season, 59-41, but was always in the game. Melson said it gave his team the confidence it needed to line up against anyone.
“The end result was we played toe-to-toe with the state champion for four quarters,” he said. “Our kids realized we’re not too bad, and that we can beat some really good teams. I think it served its purpose.”
Timberview opened with Everman before getting Frisco Lone Star (No. 7 in Dallas Morning News area rankings) and defending state champion Highland Park (No. 3 in 5A AP state poll).
Summit opened its season with local rival and 6A brother Mansfield High, which has won seven of the past eight meetings of the two schools.