The 2010 Carroll Dragons football team found playoff magic. They Protected the Tradition of a program rich in playoff success.
The Dragons went from uncertainty entering the playoffs, to a team playing four rounds deep.
The season began with a season-opening loss and inexperience at quarterback, but the Dragons overcome the early questions and reached the Class 5A Division II Region I finals. It marked the longest playoff run by the Dragons since winning the state championship in 2006. Carroll’s surge started in the playoff opener with an upset of Flower Mound, which boasted the area’s most potent offense. Coach Hal Wasson’s team used the opening-round momentum adding playoff victories against Colleyville Heritage and defending 5A state champion Abilene. Carroll, which finished the year 10-4, was eventually knocked out of the postseason by budding rival Denton Guyer.
Things were shaky back on Aug. 27, when the Dragons dropped their season opener on the road at Copperas Cove 35-14. But the Dragons didn’t flinch, winning their next five games, and improved defensively and ultimately found a quarterback of the future.
Carroll finished third in a tough District 7-5A, which includes state championship game-bound Denton Guyer. The Dragons’ future looks bright, especially at quarterback. Kenny Hill returns next season as a junior and started the final 10 games for the Dragons in 2010. He threw for 1,763 yards and 15 touchdowns as a first-time starter. Hill, son of former Texas Rangers pitcher Ken Hill, matured in the role as the season went along and provides a strong foundation.
Receiver Peyton Williams also returns next season as Hill’s top target. While this duo is back, the Dragons will suffer a huge loss in graduating tailback Paul Stevenson. The senior provided an offensive impact and helped take pressure off Hill as he adjusted. Stevenson, who was forced to miss the Region I final playoff loss to Denton Guyer with a knee injury, rushed for 1,523 yards and 23 touchdowns this season. Backup Zach Thomason returns next year after rushing for 528 yards and six TDs behind Stevenson.
As far as returning starters for 2011, the Dragons will have four on offense and four on defense. The Dragons must replace three key pieces on defense in nose tackle Dominic Cruciani, linebacker Austin Bridgers and cornerback Shaun Hoagland.
Hoagland might have been the team’s most valuable player starting at cornerback, moving some to receiver and also carrying duties as a return man. Hoagland was consistently a big-play spark for the Dragons.
Next season the Dragons will benefit from two home games in non-district. The Dragons will host Copperas Cove and L.D. Bell in the first two weeks and travel to Richardson Berkner in the final non-district game.