Arlington Heights' preparation hampered by rain

FORT WORTH -- If having a short week to prepare for a Thursday night game isn’t hard enough for Fort Worth Arlington Heights, rain has forced the team to hold two days of practice in its cramped but useful indoor facility.

The two-story high, metal-sided indoor facility is about 20 yards wide and half a football field long. The floor inside is synthetic turf, barely wide enough to fit one of Heights’ spread offense formations.

The players had some difficulty running plays during Wednesday’s scripted walkthrough of the game plan for Thursday’s District 6-4A game against Fort Worth Carter-Riverside (0-1), and coach Ged Kates said not getting quality field time can present a few problems in game preparation.

“The real concern is the spatial part with the receivers and the DB’s and understanding that because it’s a repetition thing,” Kates said. “Quarterbacks have to rep the certain length of throws we do, and that’s the big concern, the passing game and lining up properly.”

However, the team is prepared mentally, Kates said, after three days of walkthroughs, film sessions and team meetings.

The Yellow Jackets (1-0) will ride their hot offensive weapon, wide receiver Marquis Jackson, who is a receiving threat but is used often rushing out of the backfield, especially in Heights’ jumbo set.

Jackson leads the Yellow Jackets in receiving yards and rushing yards after their first game against Azle, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. He also tallied 98 yards catching passes from quarterback Omar Valadez, once connecting for a touchdown.

“Well, Marquis is such a talented kid and the biggest thing about him is he is such a good kid,” Kates said “When he does something well, you marvel at it, but you also think, ‘Man, it couldn’t happen to a nicer boy.’ We’re going to get the ball in his hands because he’s a special high school player.”

And Jackson says he and his team have taken mental preparation to heart, working on what they can do individually to prepare for Thursday’s game.

“Our motto this week is ‘The man in the mirror,’ to make ourselves better and to prepare for the rest of the season to get better,” Jackson said.

Carter-Riverside’s biggest threat is their quarterback, Jalen Moore. The athletic signal caller has the ability to carry his team on his legs, as he rushed for 129 yards on 22 carries in the Eagles' season-opening loss against North Dallas.

“Their quarterback is a real athlete,” Kates said. “He’s a guy that could probably play multiple positions and that’s the guy we have to figure out how to stop.”

Despite the challenges of inclement weather and less practice time, Kates said this week has been fun for everyone at Arlington Heights.

“It makes for a fun week,” Kates said Wednesday. “Labor Day we had an early-morning practice and no school, and then we had practice yesterday, a JV game today and the game tomorrow. So it makes for a fun week if you do it right.”