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The Big Game

Oct 07, 2014 02:34PM ● Published by Mike

2014 Southlake Carroll Dragons Captains: "Show class, have pride, and display character, if you do winning takes care of itself." Paul "Bear" Bryant. Photo by bludoor studios

by EJ Holland

The next game is always our biggest game.

That’s been the mantra for Hal Wasson since he took over as head coach at Southlake Carroll in 2007. After last week’s thrilling 28-24 win over Coppell, Wasson is tasked with fully implementing that mentality. After all, district play has only just begun.

“We always try to keep the focus on ourselves,” Wasson said. “Coppell was a big win for us. It was an exciting game, but no game is bigger than the next. We can’t afford to not be focused and not give our best effort this week. Last week is over. It’s about the next game now.”

That next game will take place on the road against a hot Richland team, which returns 18 starters from last year’s squad. The Rebels opened 2014 with three losses but have bounced back with three straight victories, including last week’s 35-8 demolition of projected playoff team L.D. Bell.

Richland has found its groove offensively, especially on the ground with dual-threat quarterback Eddie Thomas. The senior signal-called has passed 776 yards, rushed for 463 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He along with CJ Hicks, who has rushed for 794 yards and six touchdowns, form a potent rushing attack.

And that could spell trouble for the Dragons. Last week, Southlake Carroll allowed Coppell to rush for 355 yards on 50 attempts — an average of nearly seven yards per carry.

“Richland emphasizes the run, so our focus this week has to be on stopping the run,” Wasson said. “They have a guy at quarterback that can make plays with his arm and his legs and a running back that could give us some issues. We have to make sure we can get a strong push up front.”

Added defensive tackle King Newton:

“ We have to come out playing better and faster. I want to make sure that no one can run the ball in between the tackles. That’s my turf.”

The key to Richland’s turnaround, however, has been stifling defensive play. During their winning streak, the Rebels are giving up just 15 points per game. Safety Hayden Davison, linebacker John Okello and defensive lineman Isaiah Johnson all wreak havoc out of Richland’s base 3-4 defense.

“We have to be consistent offensively,” Wasson said. “I think we’ve shown improvement on the offensive line, but we still have to be more physical up front. We can’t have the problems we’ve had with miscues and route running. It’s just about being consistent.”

Southlake Carroll and Richland have met twice in the last five years with the Dragons coming out on top both times by a combined score of 111-16.

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