CARROLTON, Texas — It took two extra games for the last area soccer team to fall in the 5A playoffs, but Red Oak closed its season two rounds deeper than any other Ellis County High School.

Nearly the whole of Red Oak High School’s student body turned out to see the Hawks’ regional quarterfinal match against Centennial High School on Friday at Standridge Stadium.

The raucous crowd’s game-long cheering, however, was not enough.

“Our boys played hard, but today Centennial outplayed us. We made some mistakes they capitalized on,” said Michael Bevins, the Hawks head soccer coach about his team’s 8-1 loss to the Titans. “At the end we scored a goal, but it wasn’t enough.”

Despite the tough loss and an exit earlier than anticipated, Bevins said his team made great strides toward becoming a perennial threat in Ellis County.

Red Oak, in its first season under Bevins, reached deeper in the playoffs than Waxahachie, Midlothian and Midlothian Heritage high school teams and further than the team has since former ROHS Hawk and current MHS Panther Austin Guest took the boys team to the state championship in 2004.

“When I met them, I knew they were talented and told them I thought they could make it to state,” he continued. “Unfortunately, we fell short, but they worked hard and won a lot of big games. I hope our seniors realize this was the best season of their four years at Red Oak. We beat some really good teams in our district and came within three games of winning the state title.”

One of the wins Bevin’s referred to was his Hawks’ 3-1 victory on Feb. 16 against a heavily favored Mansfield Lake Ridge High School team that finished 10-1 and first place in district 14-5A standings.

The Hawks, who entered the playoffs with Region 2’s fourth seed, also tied or beat each of the top three teams — Waxahachie and Mansfield Lake Ridge and Summit high schools — at least once during district play.

“If teams overlook us, they may end up paying for it,” said Hawks senior attacker Juan Cantu about the hidden talent his team has in spite of losing seniors to graduation. “Don’t ever underestimate us. We started the season pretty weak and a lot of teams did, but we made it four rounds deep. There’s only eight team’s left in the state right now.”

“They doubted us from the beginning,” fellow senior Hawk Tony Cortez added. “We’ve accomplished more this year than during any year I’ve been at Red Oak. We worked hard and stayed positive and found a way to leave a legacy. We had a heck of a season and the seniors were proud to play alongside the young guys. Hopefully, they can come out and do bigger things than we did.”

That legacy is the greatest gift the boys of Red Oak can give to their little brothers in the program, Cantu continued. Of its 36 members, the program will have 17 seniors graduate and eight juniors to fill their vacated positions.

Despite the plethora of inexperienced youth the Hawks have at their disposal, Cantu said the foundation set by players like he, Cortez and seniors Ronaldo Artega and Brandon Saucedo will ensure the future of Red Oak sees even deeper runs into the playoffs.

“This is like motivation for the future guys,” Cantu said. “Everyone was a part of this, from our coaches to the people who came out and supported us every game. What we did — eliminating the Dallas schools, winning the bi-district and area championships and making the playoffs — was a big accomplishment for our the school we represent.”


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