IREDELL — There’s only one team in Texas that has so brutally defeated every single opponent on the schedule thus far that the game has been called before time ran out on the scoreboard.
The white flag has literally been waved week after week against the Iredell Dragons. Thanks to the “mercy rule” — a six-man game is ended when one team is up by 45 points at halftime or any time thereafter — the black and gold have yet to play a complete, four-quarter football game. Yet they’ve absolutely slaughtered their opposition by a combined score of 284-30.
It doesn’t quite put enough in perspective to say these Dragons have 45’ed everyone they’ve played. While it’s impressive enough to consider, add this to the mix: Iredell is the only 1A school in the entire state of Texas that can make that claim.
Now keep in mind, this doesn’t come from the Dragons whipping on opponents that are definitely lesser-than when it comes to the polls on sixmanfootball.com. No, the No. 2 Division II team in the state isn’t playing a fluffed-up schedule.
Iredell has topped Lometa, 48-0 (Div. I, No. 55), Blum, 60-14 (DI, No. 35), Gordon, 54-8 (DII, No. 12), North Central Texas Academy, 72-8 (TAPPS DII, No. 9) and Bynum, 50-0 (DII, No. 36).
“I think their focus each week, whether in the weight room or in practice, is them understanding what I’m telling them with no questions asked,” seventh-year Iredell head coach Luis Guereca said. “Whatever I ask, they’re willing to do it. That’s obviously important, and I’m thankful for that they believe what I tell them. Monday through Thursday, they’re putting in the work to be able to take that step and dominate.”
It’s not as if these Iredell kids are foreign to success. A year ago, the football team made it the furthest any Dragon team had ever gone in a regional quarterfinal finish. In the spring, a slew of kids advanced to state in track, golf and tennis.
But the success showing up on the gridiron throughout the first five games of this season is a different kind of success. These Dragons have reached a whole ‘nother level.
“I think in general, obviously it helps to have these players, these kids, these athletes, but I think their commitment has been the most important thing,” Guereca said. “They’re understanding that putting in extra time and extra work can get us where we want to go and hopefully get us to the top.”
There was a bit of turnover from last season’s history-making team, as only three starters returned for the Dragons. Several of the guys on this year’s team were on varsity a season ago but didn’t get much playing time.
“They understand this is their year and they sure have made the most of it,” Guereca said. “They know they were good. The opportunity just wasn’t there (a year ago). Now it has arrived, and they sure are stepping up and making things happen.”
With every box score that Guereca emails to the media, he never fails to mention how the balance of this year’s Iredell team powered the Dragons to yet another win. According to Hudl.com, nine different players have scored a touchdown for Iredell. That’s balance, people.
“Offensively and defensively, we do a pretty good job. The kids know their jobs are important for the whole team,” Guereca said. “A lot of times only one person shows up in the stats and has a good game. He’ll be the first one to tell you that it’s a team effort. That’s the kind of commitment our guys have for that.”
The guy Guereca is referring to is Morgan Whitfield. The reigning state champ in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles has 29 carries for 484 yards and 12 touchdowns in addition to completing 12-of-12 passes for 183 yards and three more touchdowns.
“Morgan has stepped up his game, stepped up his leadership,” Guereca said. “One thing that I really appreciate about him this year is that he’s pushing the other guys, not just verbally but also leading by example. He’s big time. We understand that. He’s a special player. We’re obviously fortunate to have him.”
With all the pieces working together and the commitment shown already, Guereca can’t point to a single moment in any of Iredell’s games where he knew his team would be pretty good this season. Instead, that epiphany came back in August during preseason practice.
“I could see that commitment in that they were willing to do everything,” Guereca said. “It was then that I realized we would be better than I thought. I knew we’d be pretty good. The guys committing to that has my confidence high in having a good year.”
Iredell won’t start its district slate until Oct. 26. Playoff seeding won’t be solidified until the beginning of November. If the Dragons win out, they’ll be on a crash course with the No. 1 ranked team in the state, defending champ Strawn, in the regional quarterfinals.
This non-district slate, however, has already started prepping Iredell for the remainder of the season, for the possibility of topping the history that was made only a short year ago. It’s molded them and shown the rest of the state how dangerous these Dragons are.
But there’s still one more test for Iredell before its open date in a week’s time before kicking off district at Walnut Springs. Heading to town this weekend is Jonesboro, a team coming off back-to-back trips to the state championship game.
Historically, Jonesboro holds an 32-18 advantage all-time. The Eagles have won the past 10. Before that, though, the Dragons strung together six consecutive wins from 2004-07.
“Jonesboro is a powerhouse,” Guereca said. “They are what football is in six-man. They’re coached well over there. They have kids that are committed to football. They always get after it.
“It’s a game that will definitely help us understand where we’re at, what we need to get better at. It’s definitely a game we’re looking forward to. Hopefully, we can get the W.”