Twenty-six seconds. That’s how long it took Seagoville to drive for a game-tying touchdown against Hillcrest during a pivotal midseason game last year.
The Dragons won the game in overtime and wound up claiming the final postseason berth in District 6-5A Div. II away from the Panthers.
The importance of those 26 seconds, plus a narrow defeat against Woodrow Wilson the following week in which a late lead also slipped away, has fueled Hillcrest’s quest for a fourth consecutive winning season — and a playoff return.
“Instead of finding ways to lose those close games, we need to find ways to win them,” said Hillcrest head coach Jacob Ramon. “We need to be more mentally and physically tough.”
Top offensive threats Reggie Williams and Jaden Hodge have graduated, leaving the leadership responsibilities to linebacker Ford Morris and lineman Prophet Hishaw. Morris was the team’s leading tackler, Hishaw anchored the offensive line, and both are expected to play multiple roles.
The starting quarterback should be either returning senior Luke Monter or sophomore Asher Randall, a transfer from Episcopal School of Dallas.
Among the other top offensive returnees for the Panthers are Zion Anguiano, Aidan Hernandez, Aidan Lewis, and Luis Lopez. Defensive standouts include Quinn Burno, Romeo Jackson, and Anderson Hewitt. Speedy siblings Isaiah and Isaac Dorn also should make an impact.
“We’re going to have some growing pains since we have a lot of kids who don’t have varsity experience,” Ramon said. “There’s a lot of kids who people are going to find out about.”