Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Southlake Carroll begins 5A title defense in dominating fashion against Arlington Martin
Motivated Southlake Carroll makes stylish start to its championship defense
ARLINGTON — As usual, Southlake Carroll’s tradition of players bleaching their hair for the playoffs has created a shocking look on the sidelines. But it didn’t match Carroll’s shocking look on the Cowboys Stadium field Friday night.
Taking on a solid Arlington Martin team, Carroll was a surgeon on offense and a bulldozer on defense as it rolled to a 65-7 victory in its playoff opener.
“We wanted to come out quick. That was the plan all week,” said quarterback Kenny Hill, who threw for three touchdowns and ran for two while sporting a blond mohawk. “I thought it would be a little harder than that, but that was the game plan and it was working.”
Carroll (10-1), the reigning Class 5A Division I champion, will continue its defense with an area-round game against El Paso El Dorado (7-4) next Saturday at 4 p.m. in Midland. Carroll’s long road to the title will require five more wins, but the Dragons have found their championship gear.
Carroll, No. 4 in the 5A area rankings, scored on its first seven drives and built a 49-0 lead by halftime. Most of the starters sat out the second half, including Hill, the MVP of last year’s title game. The senior, who is orally committed to Texas A&M, completed 16 of 17 passes for 256 yards and rushed six times for 137 yards.
It was a painful finale for No. 10 Martin (7-4), which lacked offensive punch without quarterback Kyle Hicks. The senior, a run-first quarterback who is orally committed to Texas as a running back, missed the game with a knee injury.
Still, Carroll was extremely sharp — and motivated. The Dragons had been waiting for this opportunity for more than two months, dating to when they were shut out by Allen, 24-0, in the season opener. Carroll, which was the state’s top-ranked team before the season, followed the loss with an avalanche of lopsided victories.
The Dragons entered the playoffs with nine straight wins by an average of nearly 52 points. But whether that proved Carroll was rising to its lofty expectations, or just in a district that lacked any other high-risers, was open to debate. It was wait and see for Carroll players, coaches and fans during an impressive, but snooze-worthy, regular season.
Friday night was the wake-up call, and it looked like Carroll was playing with a chip on its shoulder.
“Well, we better. That’s what we talk about. You’ve got to keep that chip on your shoulder,” coach Hal Wasson said. “You have to play with an attitude.”
Carroll did, and in the process, it quickly took the spirit out of its opponent. Martin isn’t the team it was last season, when it lost to Carroll in a regional final, but the Warriors are still a tough bunch. Their previous losses were to DeSoto, Skyline and Arlington Bowie, a trio of legitimate state contenders.
Martin’s fourth loss came to another state contender, and one that knows how to get it done when it’s do-or-die time. With an emphatic win Friday, Carroll reminded everyone that its playoff look is about more than hair.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.