Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Garland senior linebacker goes up against dad in playoff matchup
GARLAND — Their hallway conversation last Saturday morning was brief. Garland had won Friday night, and so had Mesquite. Normally, such dual success is a cause for celebration for Marcus Hill, Garland senior linebacker, and John Hill, his father and co-defensive coordinator at Mesquite.
But this time their victories facilitated a matchup between Garland and Mesquite. Father and son will face each other for the first time Friday. The occasion brought confusion and mostly silence, except for this exchange.
“You ready for this Friday?” John asked.
“Yeah,” Marcus said.
And that was it. They haven’t discussed much football since then. Neither has wanted to.
“I’m doing my thing,” Marcus said. “He’s doing his.”
Marcus Hill went to the Mesquite football games growing up. John got a job on the staff in 2001, and Marcus can even remember the first game and the score of the season opener he watched during that state championship season. Mesquite defeated Allen, 35-14.
The family, though, had settled in Garland, and Marcus attended school there through elementary and middle school. Not that it stopped him from supporting Mesquite.
“Everybody was like, ‘Garland game tonight’ and I’m like, ‘I’m going to Mesquite,’” Marcus said. “I’d always invite my friends to Mesquite games.”
Marcus played basketball and baseball but liked football best. He watched his dad on the sideline and looked over his shoulder at home when he drew up plays, asking questions about what he saw.
“My dad is my hero,” Marcus said. “There’s nothing I won’t tell him.”
John and his wife, Leah, asked their son if he wanted to attend Mesquite for high school. As part of Mesquite’s faculty, John’s children can attend Mesquite even though they don’t live in the district. But Marcus had been enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program in the Garland district. His friends went there. He would go to high school at Garland and be an Owl.
As Marcus became a key contributor at Garland as an outside linebacker, John continued coaching at Mesquite. Whereas Garland made the playoffs the first three years of Marcus’ career there, Mesquite fell on hard times. The Skeeters didn’t make the playoffs the past three seasons.
This fall, Mesquite turned it around. Garland won eight games to end the regular season. Even before the brackets came out, they began realizing the possibility of a father-son clash. Now that it has come to fruition, Leah said Marcus has been a little standoffish, spending extra time in his room.
“Both of them are very competitive,” she said. “Marcus is probably taking it to a whole different level, like, ‘I don’t even want to hear Mesquite.’”
John is just glad that as defensive coordinator he doesn’t have to directly coach against his son, as he would if Marcus played on offense. As much as he would like to win, he also wants to see Marcus succeed.
“I’ve always felt like I’ve coached Marcus whether it’s been on a team or off a team,” John said. “I’ve been one to let him do his thing and let other people appreciate his talent.”