After Arlington Martin’s 0-2 start, it was hard to find the experts who had made the Warriors this season’s trendy pick.
But Martin responded from a disappointing beginning with 10 straight victories and finds itself right where it hoped it would be, getting another shot at Euless Trinity in a Class 5A Division I regional playoff.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday at UT-Arlington’s Maverick Stadium. The winner will advance to the Region I final to meet Saturday’s Coppell-Midland winner.
The Warriors had to know if they lasted long enough that Trinity (12-0), No. 1 nationally in the ESPN RISE FAB 50, would cross their path somewhere in the Region I bracket, just as has happened three times in the last four years.
In each meeting, Trinity has ended Martin’s season.
But encouraging for the Warriors (10-2) is each time the final score has gotten a little closer, 41-0 and 31-0 in bi-district games in 2006 and 2007 to last season’s 37-19 defeat in the regional round on the Trojans' home field.
Martin was more competitive in last year’s game against the eventual Class 5A Division I state champion than the final score showed. The Warriors trailed only 23-19 at the start of the fourth quarter when Trinity made a crucial touchdown drive of 68 yards in 19 plays, four times converting on fourth-and-1.
Each team has a star player verbally committed to Oklahoma: Martin running back Danzel Williams (1,619 rushing yards, 31 touchdowns) and Trinity wide receiver/quarterback Brandon Carter (454 yards passing, 725 rushing, 343 receiving, 11 touchdowns.)
Last week, Martin held San Angelo Central without a first down in the second half of a 39-7 area playoff victory.
Trinity trailed in a game for only the second time this season before rallying to a 37-35 win over Allen.
Each roster is dotted with college prospects.
Martin quarterback Russell Bellomy, a Purdue pledge, has thrown for 1,384 yards and 14 touchdowns with only two interceptions.