One of a coach’s greatest joys is when a player exceeds expectations.
Whether it’s a young player who has just moved up to varsity and makes an immediate impact, or someone expected to be more of a role player who emerges as a serious difference maker, coaches always enjoy that kind of surprise.
The Mansfield ISD football teams have seen several such players emerge, and the coaches of Timberview, Mansfield, Legacy, Lake Ridge and Summit have all taken notice.
Timberview coach James Brown said that running back Montaye Dawson has emerged as a serious threat in the Wolves backfield this season, and at a time when the team really needed somebody to step up.
“He’s a freshman who has taken on the bulk of the offense the last two weeks due to some injuries,” Brown said. “His ability to rise to the challenge and his competitiveness and desire to keep getting better will make him one of the great ones. Montaye has not taken any steps backwards during his freshman year. In fact, he has flourished at the challenge laid in front of him.
“We hoped to bring him along slow as you would any freshman, but his desire to be great makes it easy to turn him loose.”
Dawson enters Week 7 with 35 carries for 381 yards and three touchdowns, as well as two receptions for 43 yards.
For Kirk Thor, it is not just one player who has exceeded expectations for Lake Ridge, but five — Will Ready, Blake Lodes, Miguel Molinar, Zach Muth and Jon Paul Portillo — otherwise known as the Eagles offensive line.
“Our offensive line has played well in spite of new players in the middle of the line,” Thor said. “The guys have improved every game.”
In keeping with that spirit, Mansfield coach Dan Maberry said Brian Otwori, Robert Shaw, Max Sweet and Jose Aragon, the Tigers defensive linemen, have worked hard to gel as a unit and become a run-stopping force this season.
“We graduated three of the four starters off of last year’s D-line and there were some good players we had to replace,” Maberry said. “We had a lot of question marks at that spot. The group as a whole has performed outstanding this year. They have continued to improve throughout the season. Over the last two games against Paschal and Arlington High, they helped keep both of those teams under 100 yards rushing.”
The Mansfield defensive line had 13 sacks through the first five games.
Summit coach Channon Hall said that sophomore tackle Avery Davis is having a fantastic start to his varsity career and is the kind of player coaches love to have on their teams.
“Avery has been a pleasant surprise,” Hall said. “As a staff, we thought he had a good spring, but he really turned the corner this summer and always grades out with one of our highest percentages.
“He plays physical every snap and he is not afraid of the moment. He is a ‘yes sir-no sir’ guy that never complains, and he plays through injury and never wants to be out of a practice or a game. We are happy to have him for two more season after this year.”
Over at Legacy, coach Chris Melson said he has had some extra help out wide out this season from a young man who is also playing his first season of varsity football.
“We have a junior, Payton Cathey, who started the year on JV and has been moved up to varsity and made an immediate impact,” Melson said. “He is starting at wide receiver and caught a touchdown in each of this first two games. He scored against Midlothian in his first varsity game and scored a huge touchdown against Lancaster in the fourth quarter. He also starts on special teams and does a great job.”