Fort Worth O.D. Wyatt turned a game between unbeaten teams into a mismatch in a District 7-5A opener on Thursday at Clark Stadium.
The Chaparrals’ 48-0 victory over North Side halted the Steers’ best start since 1972, and continued a good start of their own.
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Wyatt moved to 4-0, but to players, the victory was merely a step in the right direction on a checklist of goals they intend to mark off as the weeks go by.
Wyatt looked like a district championship contender on Thursday, and that’s on the list. But, as coach Zachary Criss let be known in a conversation after the game that’s a goal. Not “The Goal.”
“We need to make a playoff advance, and I don’t mean one game,” Criss said. “We need to try to make a deep move into the playoffs. We want to establish ourselves as a great program in the state.
“You can only do that by winning playoff games.”
Achieving that would be doing the Fort Worth school district quite the solid. Deep playoff runs for the district schools have been as elusive as snow days on the equator in recent years.
Wyatt’s trophy case has gotten dusty since the school’s last playoff victory in 2000.
Criss is still molding what he hopes is a chiseled playoff-ready squad by November. He has six more weeks to fix some imperfections that concern him and coaches, namely penalties – Wyatt had 15 against North Side -- and turnovers.
On Thursday, they put on display a defensive front that turned off North Side’s offense like turning off water at the faucet, and a big-play leader at quarterback.
Michael Franklin was a cocklebur for the Steers, accounting for 402 Wyatt yards and five touchdowns.
The senior, whose father with the same name was part of Wyatt’s national-record setting 4x100-meter relay team in 1998, had 130 yards rushing and a touchdown of 30 yards, and was 12 for 18 for 272 yards and four TDs passing. Deandre Hickerson, who had three catches for 115 yards, had a 70-yard TD reception in the first half.
Cameron Mims had two TDs, 8 and 12 yards, in the second half.
On both TD throws to Johnson and Hickerson, Franklin held North Side’s linebackers in at the line with a zone-read fake to the running back as both broke off the corner on a slant.
“Once he broke free I just threw it,” Franklin said of Johnson. “It was a well-designed play.”
The Chaps clearly got the best of the field-possession battle. Of Wyatt’s seven first-half possessions, five started in North Side territory and another began at the Chaparrals’ 49.
Chaps RB Ricky Cox 10 carries for 74 yards and a TD.
Wyatt outgained the Steers 319-27 in the first half, which ended with the Chaparrals up 28-0.
North Side, meanwhile, looked as if it were working against a stiff headwind.
The Steers never got going, and managed only three first downs in the first 24 minutes. North Side was held to 42 yards for the game.
Wyatt’s line was continually in North Side’s backfield.
The Steers, who fell to 3-1, turned the ball over on their first possession, failed to convert a fake punt attempt on their second, and then punted on their next four drives.
“We’re still making a lot of mistakes we don’t need to make,” said Criss, whose team turned the ball over once against North Side. “Too many mental errors that can take you out of a tight ballgame. That’s what we focus on every week.
“But we’ve consistently gotten better every week. We’re a little behind the pace of where we thought we should be at, but the kids are working hard. That’s all I can ask.”