Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Fans love elite nondistrict matchups, but most coaches have different view
After Skyline held on for a 37-34 victory over Arlington Martin on Friday, Skyline coach Reginald Samples wiped his brow and then talked about the test his team had just faced.
“That’s why we scheduled them,” he said.
That’s one good reason. Another good reason is that Skyline didn’t have a lot of choices when it was trying to fill slots on its schedule. Martin didn’t have many suitors, either, much like Allen, Arlington Bowie, Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Euless Trinity and Southlake Carroll.
Few teams want to take on that challenge early in the season.
“That’s why we’re all playing each other,” Samples said.
And that’s why we’re all being treated to a nondistrict schedule that is absolutely loaded with powerhouse matchups. It continues on Saturday with a doubleheader at Kincaide Stadium that features Cedar Hill taking on Miami powerhouse Booker T. Washington and DeSoto battling Trinity.
The fact that Cedar Hill and DeSoto are playing marquee opponents on Saturday shows just how difficult scheduling can be. Cedar Hill and DeSoto are the favorites to win District 7-5A, and their district showdown will be on Sept. 21, just six days after their games Saturday.
They won’t have a bye week to prepare for their district showdown. They won’t even have a full week to recover from Saturday’s heavyweight matchups.
DeSoto has already taken on Arlington Martin and Jenks (Okla.). Cedar Hill opened the season with Denton Guyer before taking on Allen, the area’s top-ranked 5A team. A third straight physical opponent could leave DeSoto and Cedar Hill worn down for their showdown, but at least neither team will get an advantage.
There’s also a good chance that Cedar Hill will have the same kind of schedule for the 2014 and ’15 seasons.
“At the end of the year, I’ll be calling those guys and seeing if they want to play again, just to get some games,” Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire said. “Over the last few years, it’s just gotten harder and harder to schedule games.”
It’s especially difficult for top programs in six-team districts. Undefeated Coppell, the 5-5A favorite that has already beaten Longview and McKinney Boyd, will finish its nondistrict schedule against Allen, the favorite in 10-5A. Allen has already played Carroll and Cedar Hill and takes on Hebron next week.
Those challenging nondistrict schedules will certainly help teams iron out some wrinkles. But the season can be extremely grueling, especially if a team makes it to the championship goal of 16 games. The heavyweight matchups are a fan feast, but most coaches would happily add one cupcake to a team’s diet.
In recent years, Trinity coach Steve Lineweaver has scheduled nondistrict games with high-profile programs from outside the state as well as with local powers such as Allen, Cedar Hill, Abilene and Odessa Permian. But I remember the look on his face on realignment day in 2010, when Trinity was put into a rare nine-team district.
That meant Trinity could drop one of its planned nondistrict games.
“I canceled Cedar Hill!” he said while pumping his fist.
Even a team that fears nobody can use a break early in the season. There will be plenty of challenges later.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.