Dragons Ready for the Usual Suspects
By Carlos Mendez
Photos by Ron Jenkins
In 1942 — yes, like 81 years ago; stay with us! — what’s widely considered the finest American motion picture ever debuted in theaters.
The World War II romance “Casablanca” has some of movie history’s most famous lines.
One of them, after a character has been shot, comes from a German captain: “Round up the usual suspects!”
Keep that in mind as we look at Carroll’s potential road to the state finals in 2023, not to mention its own District 4-6A path where the Dragons battle their traditional neighbors every year for supremacy in Tarrant County.
“It’s the same. It rarely changes,” coach Riley Dodge said of the potential pitfalls in the Dragons’ way, not only in their zip code but in Region I and beyond. “You’ll have a new one slip in every now and then, but it’s the same in the Metroplex. Our district has gotten more quality in the last few years.”
Let’s start there. The Keller ISD schools continue to pour resources into football, and the results are competitive teams with excellent athletes at Keller High, Keller Central, Keller Fossil Ridge and Keller Timber Creek. In 2022, KHS gave the Dragons their toughest test in their unbeaten regular season, a 38-35 thriller sealed by an interception with a minute left.
Haltom City also awaits Carroll in district play, and the Northwest ISD’s Eaton Eagles and Nelson Bobcats seek to gain ground as fast as possible on the Dragons.
Before that, tuneups with El Paso Eastwood, Flower Mound Marcus and Cedar Hill will provide a sampling of areas across the state, near and far.
“You come out of the Metroplex, Division I or Division II, and you’re able to play in the quarterfinals or semifinals or state championship, you’re going to be battle-tested for sure,” Dodge said.
The postseason matchup possibilities can be tricky to predict. The four qualifiers from each district are slotted into divisions based on enrollment — the two biggest going Division I, and the remaining two going Division II.
Carroll is the fourth-largest school in 4-6A, behind Timber Creek, Keller and Eaton.
Among the biggest 6A schools in the state are championship contenders Duncanville, Lewisville, Arlington Martin, Galena Park North Shore, Katy and Humble Atascocita. Their sizes increase the likelihood the Dragons won’t see them in the postseason.
Instead, the 6A title hopefuls near Carroll’s enrollment include DeSoto, Denton Guyer, Austin Westlake and Austin Vandegrift.
There are others, but you get the idea.
November and December will likely offer a familiar lineup.
“You’re going to be playing against good folks who have a good football team,” Dodge said.
The usual suspects.