North Mesquite was once a perennial playoff team, having made it nine seasons in a row from 1994-2002.
Since then, the Stallions have endured some rough times. North Mesquite did put together a historic run during a 10-3 campaign in 2015, but it has only one other playoff appearance since 2002 and the aforementioned run to the regional semifinals marked the only time it has won more than six games in a season.
When trying to write a new chapter, building confidence is a key and the Stallions are hoping that Thursday serves as a springboard as they posted a 20-6 victory over Fort Worth Trimble Tech in their season opener at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
It was not easy, as North Mesquite flirted with danger in the opening half.
The Bulldogs were winning the field position battle early on, starting three drives in Stallion territory—at the 33, 30 and 14-yard line—but the North Mesquite defense was able to rise to the occasion, holding them to 35 yards in the opening half and shutting down each of those possessions without surrendering any points.
That theme started after a short punt set Trimble Tech in scoring position, but Zamoray Richardson was able to come up with an interception in the end zone to thwart the chance.
That temporarily energized the offense, as it put together its best drive of the half, moving 97 yards in eight plays, with Kobie Norman scoring on a 6-yard run to take a 6-0 lead.
The Stallions then stuffed Trimble Tech on fourth down deep in their own territory at the end of the first quarter, and after a bad snap on a punt set the Bulldogs up at the North 21, the defense again stiffened with a turnover on downs.
Richardson had a pick-6 nullified by a penalty and it remained a one-score game into halftime.
The Stallions again stuffed Trimble Tech on fourth down to start the second half and this time turned it into points.
Norman got free for a 28-yard run, and then after a potentially disastrous turn, Liam Thornton hooked up with Jonathan Armstrong for a 30-yard scoring strike to give them some breathing room with a 13-0 lead.
The Bulldogs then got off a short punt of their own and North Mesquite cashed in with a quick drive that saw Greg Sherfield hauling in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Thornton to make it 20-0 with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
Trimble Tech finally broke through early in the fourth quarter, as Antonio Anderson caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from Khaffid Muhammad, and they actually got the ball back looking to make it closer, but Ashton Williams picked off a pass to seal the win.
Horn 31, Pearce 24
The Jaguars had their Mesquite ISD record of 11 consecutive playoff appearances snapped last season, but took the first step back on Friday with a 31-24 victory over Pearce at Mustang-Eagle Stadium.
Horn has had some of the most prolific passing attacks in the area during the last decade, but it was the ground game that took center stage in the opener.
The Jaguars rolled up 393 rushing yards, with juniors Camden Tyler and Eddryk Ruff each topping the 100-yard mark.
Horn grabbed the early lead with a 37-yard field goal by Antonio Mercado and then got a huge play early in the second quarter, when Tyler busted free for a 94-yard touchdown run to give them a 10-0 advantage.
Later in the quarter, the Jaguars pushed it to 17-0 when Tyler found the end zone for a second time, this run from 11 yards out.
The Mustangs were able to get on the scoreboard late in the half, as Burke Wahlburg threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brigg Sears to make it 17-7 at the break.
Pearce then made it a one-score game early in the third quarter on a short field goal by Kristian Montalvan.
Horn kept Pearce at arm’s length, as Darrius White scored on a 9-yard run to push the lead to 24-10.
The Mustangs continued to hang around, though, as Wahlberg tossed a 28-yard scoring pass to Cormac Boylan to again draw to within seven.
The Jaguars responded with another big play on the ground, as Ruff broke free for a 53-yard touchdown run to extend it to 31-17.
Pearce would make one final charge on Wahlberg’s third touchdown pass of the night, but Horn was able to recover the onside kick and run out the clock on the season-opening win.