Playoff setback shows Indians’ future bright

WHS takes district champion Temple into fourth quarter in bi-district season finale

Daily Light report
Waxahachie junior quarterback Roderick Hartsfield Jr. (1) gives the Heisman to a DeSoto defender during last week's home finale at Lumpkins Stadium. Hartsfield will return next year for the Indians with plenty of experienced rising underclass teammates.

TEMPLE — The final record may not reflect it, with only a one-win improvement over the season before. But in reality, the Waxahachie Indians made gigantic strides on the gridiron in 2021 — and the future looks even brighter.

A comparison between last year’s bi-district trip to Temple’s Wildcat Stadium and this year’s one tells the tale.

Unlike last year’s contest where District 12-6A outright champion Temple took command early and rolled to a 38-0 shutout, the Indians hung in deep into the fourth quarter and made the host Wildcats work for a 28-14 outcome in the Class 6A Division II opener.

The Tribe close out as 6-5 winners in their first season under head coach Shane Tolleson, with three of the five losses by a touchdown or less. A stellar crop of juniors and sophomores gives WHS lots of hope of competing in whatever iteration of the “District of Doom” the University Interscholastic League throws at them in February’s realignment.

Junior Iverson Young rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown to lead WHS, and classmate Jayden Becks totaled 90 rushing yards on 12 carries. Quarterback Roderick Hartsfield Jr. — also a member of the junior class — completed nine of 18 pass attempts for 82 yards and a touchdown throw to tight end Joseph Lankford.

The Indians outgained Temple by 362 yards to 308 and played turnover-free football, but also committed 11 penalties totaling 95 yards.

Senior running back Samari Howard rushed for 191 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Wildcats (9-2), including an 84-yard touchdown run with 5:32 remaining that slammed the door shut. Howard’s 2-yard run at the 10:20 mark capped a six-play drive and gave Temple the lead for good.

Before Temple’s two TDs in the fourth quarter, the Indians were very much in the game and knotted things up at 14-all with 1:50 remaining in the third when Hartsfield passed 30 yards to a wide-open Lankford.

Temple will face Rockwall-Heath in the area round at Burleson on Friday night.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Indians took the initial lead on the first play of the second stanza on Young’s 9-yard run, and Jesse Garfias’ PAT made it 7-0. But on the ensuing kickoff, Temple’s Devan Williams returned it 75 yards to level the score immediately.

Before halftime, the Wildcats mounted an 80-yard drive, with a 15-yard WHS personal foul penalty keeping it going, and quarterback Mikal Harrison-Pilot kept for a 30-yard TD with 17 seconds on the clock, sending Temple into intermission up 14-7.