Nov 13, 2014 01:46PM ● Published by Mike
The Dragons celebrate on the field after their 2011 State Championship win over Fort Bend Hightower 36-29. Photo by Rex Teter Photography
It’s that time of year again — black pants and bleached blond hair.
That signifies the start of the postseason for Southlake Carroll. Since 2001, players have bleached their hair blond to show team unity. The Dragons also switch from white to black playing pants at the start of the playoffs.
So how did it all get started?
“I believe back when Coach (Bob) Ledbetter was here they got a surplus order of black pants. They were freebies, so they decided to use those in the playoffs,” Wasson said. “In 2001, players started to bleach their hair, so it became a tradition to celebrate the playoffs with black pants and blond hair. Of course, my hair has been bleached permanently.”
But Wasson isn’t worried too much about participating in the program’s unique tradition. Instead, he’s focused on game planning for Southlake Carroll’s bi-district matchup against Mansfield this Friday atAT&T Stadium.
The Dragons locked up an outright district title last week to secure the top seed out of District 7-6A. This year, the Dragons are headed to Division II for the first time in recent memory. Mansfield is in as the third place team out of District 8-6A, which featured tough teams like Cedar Hill, South Grand Prairie and nationally ranked DeSoto.
“I’m really proud of our team and coaches for finishing the year 10-0. We accomplished our first goal of winning an outright district title,” Wasson said. “But we’re not content. The journey has only begun. We have a tall order this week. Mansfield beat two of the three other playoff teams in their district.”
One of those aforementioned victories came against defending state champion Cedar Hill. There is no doubt Mansfield is one of the hottest teams in the Dallas-area. After a 4-3 start, the Tigers rattled off three straight victories and are peaking at the right time.
Most of their success can be attributed to a strong rushing attack. Out of the Multiple I, running backs Kennedy Brooks and Emmanuel Esukpa have combined to rush for more than 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns. Quarterback Aaron Funk has been efficient, throwing for 1,185 yards and 13 scores.
“We know they feature a strong running game. Our defense is going to have to play really well,” Wasson said. “We have to play with great pad level. Their running backs are great in space and have good vision. They are also very effective when they run the bootleg. We’re going to have to play physical.”
Defensively, Mansfield has been up and down, giving up 24.4 points per contest. The Tigers’ strength lies in their secondary with TCU commit Julius Lewis. So Southlake Carroll will likely lean on workhorse running back Lil’ Jordan Humphrey, who finished the regular season with 1,401 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground.
“We have to be physical running the football, and we have to be efficient passing the football,” Wasson said. “We also have to keep getting better in pass protection and run better routes. The key word is consistent. We know they keep the ball away for their opponents as much as possible
“We have to match their physical running game and stay on schedule offensively.”