Go to different football programs, and many of them will say the same thing: Track and field is essential.
That sentiment is no different at 5A programs like Lake Dallas and The Colony. When the calendar turns to the spring, track is a vital part of the offseason for football players to increase their speed and get them even more prepared for the upcoming football season in the fall.
“We don’t have an option in the football program of not to run track,” said Rudy Rangel, The Colony head football coach.
Rangel was raised in the powerlifting world. He was a high-level powerlifting coach and held a strong belief in that sport in its application to football.
Today, there is still powerlifting at The Colony, but it is different than it was less than even a decade ago. The landscape of football was changing fast, with the emergence of spread offenses and speed taking over the game at every stop.
“What we found out the more we started playing running quarterbacks and spread offenses is you can lift a house, but if you can’t run 5 yards and catch a guy, it doesn’t matter,” Rangel said. “We made a hardcore switch from powerlifting to track. We still powerlift, but not in meets and stuff.”
So, the transition took place, and Rangel and the Cougars put a larger emphasis on the speed aspect of the game.
It doesn’t matter where you finish or how fast you are right now. Rangel is not as concerned about your placement, but he and the staff are more focused on beating your time from the last time you ran.
“Just compete and just work on you, and that’s what we have the kids track,” Rangel said. “Some of the kids are, ‘Coach, I’m not fast.’ I don’t care how fast you are. I just want you faster. That’s been the push for us at The Colony for me and the football program is track.”
And at Lake Dallas, it is much of the same.
They understand just how vital it is and have seen its effects on players everywhere. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley – the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year – holds his high school’s record in the 100-meter dash (10.90 seconds) and earned gold medals in that event and the long jump at his district meet. Fellow running back Jamaal Charles was a four-time All-American in his lone track season in college. Adrian Peterson won the District 14-4A Texas Championships in high school.
At The Colony, a plethora of its soon-to-be FBS football players participated in track – including safety Christian Gonzalez (Colorado), wide receiver Keith Miller III (Colorado) and do-it-all athlete Myles Price (Texas Tech), with Price clocking a time of 10.63 seconds in the 100 meters at The Colony Cougar Invitational in March.
At Lake Dallas, look no further than to another future Power Five player in Texas Tech defensive back signee Kobee Minor, who has also been part of Lake Dallas’ track and field team as a high schooler.
Track isn’t just limited and helpful to some of those skill positions, though, as linemen are also required to be the fleetest of foot than ever nowadays.
“It’s a huge part of our football program,” said Jason Young, Lake Dallas defensive coordinator and strength and conditioning coordinator. “A lot of the other sports have kids that come out and do track. Not everybody is a sprinter, but it’s a great opportunity to work on speed. Bottom line – if you’re playing football nowadays, and it doesn’t matter what position you’re playing, speed is the biggest factor. It is. Even if you’re an offensive lineman, you’ve got to be able to move.”
And football isn’t the only sport where track is considered an extension of its program.
“It’s an extension of really all of our programs,” said Scott Sander, Lake Dallas assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator. “Our girls sports even come out after school and do track as an extension of their offseason program. And it gives us a little bit more time to make sure the kids are doing what they need to do to be successful.”
Both Lake Dallas and The Colony, two of the many programs where track and field is deemed essential, have been consistently successful on the football field in recent years.
Since 2010, Lake Dallas has made seven playoff appearances, highlighted by a trip to the state semifinals in 2015. Meanwhile, The Colony has made seven straight playoff trips dating back to 2013 after missing out for more than a decade (the last postseason trip before that was 2002) and going as far as regionals in 2014.
“It’s coincidentally that we’ve been in the playoffs seven years in a row,” Rangel said. “And the first year I went to this was the year we got in. It’s really amazing how the track portion has carried us through a lot of this.”