GRAND PRAIRIE — Thursday night’s spectacle between Arlington Lamar and Haltom High Schools was billed as offense versus offense, but in the end, it was one team’s defense that defined a move to the area round of the UIL 6A playoffs.
Behind the strength of sophomore starter Jack Dawson’s right arm, Dayton Dubs’ seemingly unending catch radius, 28 first-half points, and a crucial interception, as well as middle relief and a close from backup quarterback Jaden Hadawi, Arlington Lamar’ Vikings knocked off Haltom 49-12 inside the Gopher/Warrior Bowl.
“We knew [Michael Black] is a baller and [Imiee Cooksey] has world-class speed and [Zacc Smith] is a load to bring down,” said Laban DeLay, the head coach at Arlington Lamar. “We emphasized that to our kids all week. Our coaches did a marvelous job of preparing and the kids believed in the scheme and executed it.”
Through both air raid and ground-and-pound, the (6-5) Vikings scored on three of their first four drives — first via a 15-yard strike from Dawson to second-leading receiver Dubs, then again after a 62-yarder to Trevon West, and again to Dubs for two yards — to take a commanding — and seemingly insurmountable — lead.
Dubs scored two of the four Vikings receiving touchdowns and gathered 82 yards on five receptions. Only West was better with 117 and two touchdowns on three receptions (39 YPC).
The Arlington Lamar defense, too, created a spark after Kesswin Kinney and Javon Moore tallied sacks in the second half and Daniel Huggins picked Michael Black on an underthrown ball and gave the Vikings the ball at the 23-yard line in the first. West’s 60-plus-yard backbreaker came four plays later.
Black and Haltom, though, would have the first of two momentary rallies.
A Kenneth Cormier 3rd and 10, 23-yard reception and truck through an Arlington Lamar defender capped a 10-play, 86-yard drive for the Buffalos, whittling the deficit to a mere 15-point margin in the second quarter. Their momentum, weakened by a missed extra-point kick, was short-lived.
Arlington Lamar’s defense forced two sacks and a first-quarter interception that stopped a Buffalo drive that was in range of scoring. Running back Michael Bradley scored on the next drive — the last points for either team in the first half —and again two plays into the second half via a 63-yard sprint to the end zone. According to Dawson, it was the perfect display of balance that’s made Arlington Lamar dangerous all year.
“We were balanced today. At the beginning of the game, we had to pass the ball to get everything going and then the rushing came along,” Dawson said.
While it may be true the Vikes found rhythm through Jack Dawson’s 187 yards and three touchdowns on 10 of 17 passing in the first half, it was also equally true that Hadawi, the team’s five-tool utility player as a safety, running back, linebacker and wide receiver, was the team’s engine under center in the second.
“Everything worked out and the gameplan worked. It just feels great to leave here a bi-district champ. I have to say thanks for that to Coaches Sanders and DeLay and to Jaden Hadawi for coming in and saving the day,” Dawson continued.
Dawson suffered a minor undisclosed injury and did not play the second half because of DeLay’s decision.
In his stead, Hadawi threw for 118 total yards and two touchdowns to West and Matthew Shaw and ran for another 47 yards — second on the team in rushing to only Bradley (7 rush, 94 yards, 2 TD). He also outdueled Haltom’s leading passer and rusher.
Black finished 13 of 26 with 111 yards, a touchdown, and an interception through the air and 22 rushes for 103 yards and a touchdown on the ground. That touchdown was the second of the Buffalos surges, a 1-yard rumble through the middle of the Vikings’ defense and into the end zone by Black.
Arlington Lamar held the Buffalos leading and primary receiver, Cooksey, to four receptions and 35 yards.
Arlington Lamar wide receiver Trevon West led the Vikes in receiving yards and tied for the team lead in touchdowns. Gordon Deloach/TexasHSFootball
With the victory, Arlington Lamar advances to the area round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs to face the winner of Friday’s El Paso El Dorado (7-3) or Midland Lee (8-2) matchup at the Socorro ISD Student Activity Center. If Midland Lee advances, the game is scheduled to be played at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland.
El Dorado has yet to release a proposed site if they are victorious, but DeLay noted it would be in the West Texas region.
“We’re going to celebrate tonight and find out who we play late Friday night. Then we’ll go back to work on Saturday,” he continued. “We haven’t played either before. We played at El Paso Eastwood a couple of years ago, but haven’t played Midland Lee. I’m just happy we advanced and I’ll take either one. We’re still in the dance and that means we get to play football on Thanksgiving, which is huge for us.”
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