Written by Matt Wixon
As Southlake Carroll and Euless Trinity prepare to meet, a look back at their classic matchup in 2006
I’m a little surprised that there are still 4,000 tickets left for Saturday’s matchup of Southlake Carroll and Euless Trinity at the Birdville Fine Arts/Athletic Complex. But I knew the anticipation for the game wouldn’t match the last time the two teams played.
That last game was six years ago, and it was a classic.
Carroll and Trinity had each won a Class 5A state title in 2005, so they had experienced big-time games, crowds and pressure. But even those two programs had never been a part of anything like the afternoon of Nov. 24, 2006, at Texas Stadium.
Two hours before the showdown, the parking lot was filling up and cars were backed up on roads leading to the stadium. A high school football game was creating NFL-level traffic snarls at the home of the Cowboys.
Inside the stadium, the lower bowl was filled and fans climbed higher and higher for seats. When the Carroll and Trinity players ran out of the tunnels, the crowd’s roar floored them.
I talked to Riley Dodge, Carroll’s junior quarterback at the time, about it a couple of years ago. He said he remembered looking around at his teammates and saying, “Can you believe this?”
It was hard to believe. The game, featuring two undefeated reigning champions, attracted 46,339 fans. Many people believe the state record for attendance for a high school game – set in 1977 when 49,953 fans watched Plano beat Port Neches-Groves at Texas Stadium – would’ve fallen if fans hadn’t been scared away by the massive traffic jams.
Thousands of fans didn’t get into the game until halftime, and Dodge noticed the difference.
“The first half was real packed, but coming out in the second half, it was just unbelievable.”
The game did what seemed to be impossible: It matched the hype surrounding it.
For more than a month, fans had been looking through the standings and buzzing about how Trinity, the 2005 Division I champ, and Carroll, the 2005 Division II champ, could end up in the same bracket.
Despite each team being undefeated, they met in the second round. It was their first head-to-head matchup ever.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Trinity crowd erupted as running back Justise Campbell burst up the middle for a 69-yard touchdown that gave the Trojans a 21-16 lead. Trinity still had the lead with five minutes left, and after Carroll punted the ball back, the Trojans hoped to run out the clock.
Then came the most talked-about play of the game. Despite being on its own 38-yard line, Trinity opted for a fake punt on fourth down. Carroll wasn’t fooled, and the Dragons took over at the Trinity 35 with 2:30 left.
Trinity coach Steve Lineweaver, who has led the Trojans to three 5A titles since 2005, thought it was worth the risk. He was more worried about giving the ball back to Carroll’s high-powered offense than the Dragons’ field position.
Carroll took advantage of the short field. Dodge passed to Anthony Ford for a 14-yard gain on third down and hit Blake Cantu for a 15-yard gain to the 2-yard line. Dodge scored on an option keeper with 37 seconds left to give Carroll the 22-21 win.
“It was emotional. We just stormed the field,” Dodge said. “It felt like a state championship game.”