You know what they say about sequels: They’re not as good as the original. Carroll might disagree.
Carroll liked the original meeting with Midland Lee on Sept. 6, 63-14. But there were some who were expecting a better matchup between the two teams in the Class 5A Region I Division I area playoff last Friday at Saginaw’s Chisholm Trail High School.
Instead, it was probably a more dominant Dragon performance. Carroll (11-1) forced four turnovers including three interceptions of Lee quarterback Cade Coots in the 51-7 victory. The starters didn’t play in the second half.
Now on an 11-game winning streak, the Dragons meet Euless Trinity (10-2) in the Region I semifinals at 4:00 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The game can be heard on KWRD (100.7 FM) with the pregame show beginning at 3 p.m.
Any coach will tell you that a great pass defense starts with a great pass rush. With the likes of King Newton and Nash Dickey, Carroll’s defensive front controlled the line and compressed the pocket to force Coots to make bad throws. Brett Lepicier, Andrew Chelf and Tariq Gordon came up with the interceptions.
“We’ve played well the last two weeks,” Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. “What I’m most proud of is that they are mature and growing up with their energy and discipline.”
And the Dragons endured the miserable weather conditions.
“What makes Carroll so unique is that in spite of the extreme conditions, our community and our team handled everything,” Wasson said.
Carroll’s offensive approach
If all you knew about Carroll junior quarterback Ryan Agnew was that he completed only 20 passes for only 295 yards in the Dragon’s two playoff games, then you would think the offseason has started.
But then when you look at the stat sheet from the wins over Arlington Bowie and Midland Lee, you’ll immediately know why the Dragons aren’t relying on his arm.
Carroll’s rushing attack has been very impressive grinding out 351 and 301 yards respectively. That’s a product of a young offensive line no longer being young and working in unison and dominating the line of scrimmage.
The benchmark for any rushing attack to be potent is about 200 yards. Thus, averaging 326 is way above and beyond the call.
“It’s not easy to win a game,” Wasson said. “If you beat a team once, you try to use what “If you beat a team once, you try to use what you got out of the game to your advantage. That’s what we tried to do against Lee. We’ve been very pleased how the running game has been coming along all season.”
At 966 yards, AJ Ezzard is on the brink of having consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Memories of Trinity
Friday will mark the third time these two storied programs have met in the playoffs. Combined, they have won 11 state championships. Carroll has eight. Trinity has three.
Carroll won the 2012 meeting, 16-7, thanks to three field goals. But hardcore followers remember the epic 2006 meeting at Texas Stadium that Carroll pulled out, 22-21. Trinity led that game 21-16 with 2:30 to play and tried a fake punt at its 38. The Dragons snuffed it out. Riley Dodge scored the game-winner with 37 seconds to play on a 2-yard run.
The 2013 Trojans have won 10 straight after dropping their first two Tulsa Jenks and DeSoto. As always, Trinity is physical with its running game led by a pair of 1,000-yard performers in Isaac Ellsworth (1,171) and Ja’Ron Wilson (1,089). The two have combined for 29 touchdowns. Quarterback Christian Hammack has been efficient with a conservative passing game completing 61 percent of his passes and 15 touchdowns.
“We always respect our opponents but don’t fear anyone,” Wasson said. “[Trinity coach] Steve Lineweaver has made that an outstanding program. It should be a great game.”
Playing through near-freezing temperatures, a steady rain and a strong north wind, Southlake Carroll opened with a 24-point first quarter against Midland Lee, putting away the Rebels for a 51-7 second-round playoff win Friday night at Saginaw Chisholm Trail Stadium.
Carroll (11-1) will play the winner of Saturday’s Euless Trinity-Mansfield Timberview game at 4 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington in the regional round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
The Dragons forced three turnovers in the first quarter, a fumble and two interceptions.
“You get to this time of year, and on defense you hope to create turnovers,” Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. “We try to not focus on the elements. We try to focus on us and our game plan. We try to tend to business.”
A.J. Ezzard had back-to-back 10-yard touchdown runs to open the scoring for the Dragons, who led 45-0 at halftime. He led Carroll with 99 yards on 15 carries.
Lee (9-3), which also lost to Carroll 63-14 on Sept. 6, moved to the Dragons’ 25-yard-line on its first possession, but eventually had to punt.
From there Carroll drove 12 plays before Ezzard’s first score. Then, on Lee’s first play of its next possession, Carroll defensive end King Newton recovered a fumble. Ezzard scored his second touchdown two plays later.
“[Lee] came out hot, had a good game plan, made a few good plays early, and that’s playoff football,” Wasson said. “Fortunately, you’ve got to get it all the way to the end zone, and our defense bowed their neck.”
Ryan Agnew hit Luke Timian for two touchdown passes in the first half.
The first was set up by an interception from Tariq Gordon. The second was a 6-yard-toss that capped a drive sparked by a 30-yard run from Agnew.
Agnew had a 14-yard touchdown run later in the half.
He finished 10-of-19 passing for 131 yards, the two touchdowns and an interception. The junior ran for 91 yards on 10 carries.
Sam Downey, Carroll’s holder on place-kicks, had a 15-yard touchdown pass to Steven Bergmark on a fake field goal attempt. Downey pitched it forward to Bergmark, who found the edge of Lee’s defense for the score.
Drew Brown kicked a 47-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @RyanOsborneFWST