LAKE DALLAS — Months before Lake Dallas sophomore Dagan Haehn would be able to drive down Parkridge Drive to school, the Falcons turned the keys to the offense over to the young quarterback.
Haehn wasn’t the only sophomore Lake Dallas was asking to step up and take over key roles going into the 2013 season.
So far, those sophomores have exceeded expectations. Lake Dallas once again will depend on a group of young players when the Falcons face Trophy Club Nelson (3-1, 0-1 District 5-4A) at 7:30 tonight.
A win tonight would help Lake Dallas in its quest to lock up a playoff berth in a very competitive district.
“If we can win this week, it would be big,” Lake Dallas coach Michael Young said. “The rest of the games are still going to be important, but to beat Denton High and to beat Nelson — two of the teams that are going to be in the thick of it for a playoff spot — it would be nice to start [district play] 2-0.”
Lake Dallas (4-0, 1-0) is averaging 43.8 points per game. The starting sophomores on offense, including Haehn, running back Courtenay Holder and wide receiver Keegan Brewer, have played a significant role in that success.
Last week, Brewer had seven catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line responsible for protecting the 15-year-old Haehn, who won’t get his driver’s license until the end of the month, features two sophomores — left guard Cody Pierce and center Chase Stanley.
The starting quarterback said the sophomores have played football together since elementary school. But at the start of this season, the influx of sophomores took a little adjusting to.
“The sophomores, a lot of us, we played peewee together multiple years, so we have a lot of chemistry between the sophomores,” Haehn said. “But between us and the upperclassmen, it took awhile to get used to, but we worked into it and it’s working out for us, and right now I think we’re meshing really well.”
One of Haehn’s biggest weapons has been senior receiver Josh Jackson. Jackson, who orally committed to Iowa, said Haehn has shown confidence at quarterback and is doing things like watching film to become a great leader for the team.
Haehn’s growth is indicative of the way the young Falcons have stepped into their new roles.
“They all just stepped up tremendously,” Jackson said. “They just came in and played great and weren’t scared of the competition. They really impressed us. They’re great teammates, and they lead us also on the team. We’re all leaders; we all help each other.”
Jackson and his head coach noted the significance of tonight’s game.
Last year, the Bobcats defeated Lake Dallas 28-21 to start a three-game losing streak for the Falcons. Lake Dallas closed the season with three straight wins to clinch 5-4A’s final playoff berth.
Following tonight’s game, Lake Dallas faces Wichita Falls Rider and Guyer, the defending Class 4A Division I champion. Young said he’d like to avoid a tense close to the season.
“You don’t want to be in must-win [situations] in week 10 against a good team,” Young said. “Anything can happen. You hate to have your whole season go down to one game or something like that.”
Young now can rely on a solid group of sophomores on both sides of the football to lead the Falcons back to the postseason. After close wins against Richardson Pearce and Frisco Centennial, it looks as if the Falcons may have started to piece things together.
“We worked out the kinks and the rust from the summer wore off, and we’re in a groove now,” Haehn said. “We’re running with it.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.