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Fort Worth ISD Football Preview: Lights Switch On
There’s no show quite like Texas high school football and the curtain goes up this week.
Each of the District’s 14 teams take to the turf, starting with four games Thursday evening. The holy day of schoolboy football follows with nine contests basking under those Friday Night Lights before the Fort Worth ISD’s opening week ends with a lone Saturday morning tilt.
If it sounds like a lot, it is. The prep work for the District has been an ongoing affair for months.
“We spent the whole summer preparing for the year,” said Todd Vesely, Athletics Department executive director. “It’s really our busiest time in the office. It’s really exciting to see to that period of time for us coming to a close, and we’re about to turn on the lights for the most exciting football athletic season that there is anywhere in the country.”
Each new season brings renewed hope and optimism, as the lessons for the previous year and all the hard work in between takes shape with squads in control of their destinies. Preseason predictions don’t mean a thing once the ball flies off the tee.
“Everybody’s starting over. Everybody’s undefeated right now,” said Dean Pritchett, assistant director of athletics. “The excitement of all the work they’ve put in, last offseason, over the summer and since we’ve been back for conditioning and fall camps. It’s very exciting. And having 14 teams, I’m always on the phone during games checking scores of games around town and our teams traveling.”
Several District programs made the playoffs last season, including Southwest, Eastern Hills, O.D. Wyatt, Benbrook and Dunbar. Getting into the postseason is a goal all teams share.
“It’s the anticipation that anything can happen,” Vesely said. “You really don’t know what can happen with grades and injuries and kids moving and transferring. We have so much hope and anticipation for every one of our programs. That’s the thing about Texas high school football, everybody is good.”
The Thursday slate features all 7 p.m. starts: South Hills-Cleburne (Clark Stadium), Arlington Heights-Springtown (Farrington Field), Diamond Hill-Jarvis vs. Dallas Conrad (Forester Field) and Western Hills-Dallas Molina (Sprague Field).
Friday night’s schedule: Southwest- Frisco Lebanon Trail (7 p.m. Clark), North Side-Lake Worth (7 p.m. Farrington), O.D. Wyatt- Seagoville (7 p.m. Scarborough-Handley Field), Trimble Technical-Carrollton R.L. Turner (7 p.m. Standridge Stadium), Polytechnical-Dallas Hillcrest (7:30 p.m. Franklin Field) Dunbar-Dallas Kimball (7:30 p.m. Sprague) Paschal-Irving (7 p.m. Ellis Stadium) Benbrook-Nevada Community ( 7:30 p.m. Braves Field) Carter-Riverside vs. Castleberry (7:30 p.m. Barnes Memorial Stadium).
Eastern Hills travels to Carrollton Standridge Stadium to face Newman Smith at 10 a.m. Saturday to conclude what promises to be an eventful Week 1.
“There’s nothing like it,” Vesely said. “Those football games are community events with lots of students involved. We’re looking forward to watching all those students in action, with the band, the cheerleaders, the drill teams, all the support organizations. There will be lots of recognizing of other athletes and other organizations at our football games.”
Among the festivities throughout the fall is a forthcoming celebration of Farrington Field, which is entering its 80th season. The iconic stadium, with a seating capacity of 18,500, is a true Fort Worth landmark, complete with a stunning view of the city’s downtown skyline at night.
Farrington’s venerable bones are dripping with moments that have stood the test of time.
“When you walk up the ramp, you can almost hear and feel the history that comes from being inside that stadium,” Vesely said. “It’s an incredibly special place and a special experience to get to go to games or participate in games in some capacity there. We’re going to try to honor one of the great facilities that we have in the city.”
Farrington and fields across the state will host a new set of memories soon enough. Vesely, for one, hopes to share those originating in Cowtown.
“For those that have never attended a Texas high school football game,” he said. “For those who have in the past, for those who have never been to a game in Fort Worth, I would challenge them to come be a part of the greatest sports season that there is anywhere in United State or anywhere on Earth, as a matter of fact.”
Volleyball building on success
District volleyball teams have moved on past the tournament part of the schedule to nondistrict games. After an unprecedented amount a success last year, with eight teams reaching the playoffs and five advancing past the first round, this season’s outlook is soaring.
“It was a very successful volleyball season last year,” Vesely said. “We played some close matches with some top teams. We think we’re off to a strong start.”
The complete District volleyball schedule is available here.