Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Start of 4-5A play put Arlington Lamar on winning path
It was a night of big numbers Friday as Wylie East had more than 600 yards of offense, Aledo running back Johnathan Gray scored four touchdowns in a quarter and Fort Worth Southwest’s Wesley Harris threw a state-record nine touchdown passes.
But for Arlington Lamar, a very small number meant a lot.
One point was all the edge Lamar needed in its 21-20 victory over Arlington Bowie. And now, with only three weeks left in the regular season, Lamar is the one to beat in talent-rich District 4-5A.
The three teams expected to battle for the title — Arlington, Arlington Martin and Bowie — are looking up at the only undefeated team in district play.
“We’ve shown that you better not underestimate Lamar,” senior defensive back Paris Watson said, “because we will bring it.”
Whatever Lamar (4-3, 4-0 in 4-5A) is bringing, it has worked since the start of district. The Vikings opened district with their first win over Arlington in four years, then blew out Weatherford and Fort Worth Paschal before beating Bowie for the first time in six years.
Or maybe not. Lamar’s seniors won district titles when they were on freshman and junior varsity teams, so they expect to win.
But Lamar’s varsity teams haven’t had the same success. As Martin, Bowie and Arlington made playoff runs in recent years, Lamar either missed the postseason or was knocked out in the first round.
And then this season started with three straight losses. But coach Trent Fuller knew his team could turn it around.
“I knew we had a good team and that we were better than our record,” Fuller said. “I told the guys, ‘Look, 0-3 does not define us.’ We just came out in district and treated it as a brand new season.”
The brand new season has included a big reversal in turnovers. Lamar was minus-6 in turnover margin in its three losses and plus-six in its four wins. The defense is allowing only 14 points per game in district, and the offense, while not putting up huge numbers, makes big plays when it counts. Lamar trailed Bowie at halftime, but quarterback Connor Berry connected with DaQuan Thomas for touchdown passes of 30 and 38 yards as the Vikings rallied.
So now Lamar sits atop the standings, chased by Arlington (4-3, 3-1) and this week’s opponent: defending district champion Martin (6-1, 3-1). With a win over Martin, Lamar would have an excellent chance at its first district title since 2004.
That last title came when legendary coach Eddy Peach was still at the helm. During his 39-year, 309-win run as coach, Lamar was often the favorite to win its district. Now Lamar is flying high, but still under the radar, as it tries to win one of the area’s most unpredictable districts.
“I still haven’t figured it out,” Fuller said. “But I know that if we keep winning, we’ll be all right.”