Friday Night Faceoff: Mansfield has the talent to sweep District 4-6A once again
Are you ready for this week's Friday Night Faceoff?
Each week, WFAA.com brings you live coverage of a top high school football matchup in the DFW area. Follow along with high schools contributor Reece Kelley Graham (@ReeceKelleyG) as he provides updates on the teams throughout the week, plus live coverage on social media and the postgame recap.
There's lots of games on Friday, but join us at @wfaasports on Twitter for updates on the biggest games throughout the Metroplex!
Week 7's matchup: Arlington Martin at Mansfield
Who: Arlington Martin Warriors (5-0, 2-0 District 4-6A) at Mansfield Tigers (4-1, 2-0 District 4-6A)
Where: Mansfield's Vernon Newsom Stadium – 7:30 p.m.
For the past two seasons, Mansfield High School has been schooling everyone – regardless of the district the Tigers were playing in.
In 2015, Mansfield surprised everyone and took District 8, which at that time was home to perennial powers like DeSoto and Cedar Hill. The Tigers went 6-0 in district play and made it all the way to the Division II state semifinals.
Mansfield owned a new group of teams after moving to District 4 last season, once again going undefeated and going over four Arlington teams in the process.
Playing up a class from other Mansfield teams, the Tigers have done very well for themselves at the expense of teams from outside their city limits.
Arlington Martin has taken exception, and is ready to return the favor.
While Mansfield might be the defending champ, Martin is playing like a state champ. The Warriors enter this week's matchup undefeated – and none of those games were very close.
This game probably decides the district champion. Who's ready?
Here's what you need to know about the Mansfield Tigers
Look out for our Arlington Martin preview coming Friday morning!
Like we mentioned before, Mansfield has the talent to compete for championships. The Tigers have done so for the past two seasons.
But this year's Mansfield team might be the best in recent memory. The Tigers return six starters on offense and eight on defense. The core has remained intact and the depth is overwhelming – yes, even for a 6A school, where deep rosters are just the name of the game.
The most obvious missing piece is four-star running back Kennedy Brooks, who's now an Oklahoma Sooner. The Tigers leaned on him heavily during their district run last season.
But many of the key offensive weapons remain.
Senior quarterback Shawn Hartsfield is already outpacing his number numbers from last season, having thrown for nearly 800 yards and seven touchdowns. Hartsfield threw for 1400 yards last season, so he's well on his way to setting a new career-high.
Senior running back Avery Chatman has received a majority of Brooks' touches in an offense that has become less reliant on the run. He's averaging almost seven yards per carry and has rushed for 403 yards and four touchdowns through five games. Jaqulis Coleman, KJ Hawkins and Theo Owens give the Tigers more options on the ground.
Wide receiver Jackson Gleeson is back as Hartsfield's leading target, having caught passes for more yards and scores than the rest of the roster combined. Gleeson's 15 receptions for 450 yards and five TDs are a testament to how pivotal he is as a member of Mansfield's offense. He averages 30 yards per catch.
Wide out Grayson Tatrow has also impressed, just two receiving yards away from reaching 200.
These weapons are allowing Mansfield to average 32 points per game, enough to win lots of games when paired with an outstanding defense (we'll get to them in a minute, don't worry). Behind an offensive line that features four returning starters, The Tigers can run a balanced attack that hits opponents in the gaps. Grayson Schramme, Willis Patrick, Conner Parsons and Layton Ernst are the O-line names you need to remember.
And then there's Mansfield's defense... oh boy, where to begin?
Probably where the Tigers got better. Mansfield's secondary received a major boost when UCLA commit Cam'Ron Jones transferred down from Euless Trinity. The safety adds to a group of defensive backs that was already pretty outstanding, featuring senior Corbin Frederick and junior Miles Williams. Cornerback Kason Cooper is another name to know.
Up front, defensive end Brian Otwori and lineman Robert Shaw anchor the group. Mansfield also owns a crop of talented linebackers in Jarrett Skaggs, Imioan James and Kade Fletcher.
One has to admire a team that can beat you on both sides of the ball. Mansfield's offense isn't leaning on its defense, or vice versa. The Tigers are fundamentally sound all around.
After winning two straight district championships, some would call this team a buzzkill.
And that's probably just the jealousy coming out.