Daingerfield Riding Tradition-Rich History Into This Week’s State Semifinal Matchup
Eight state championship game appearances and six titles. There are a lot of skins on the wall at Daingerfield High School.
This year's Daingerfield team has won eight straight games, and with one more victory, the Tigers will be playing for their fourth state title in five years.
“It seems like our tradition is taking over right now," Daingerfield coach Aric Sardinea said. "I’ve never been at a program with the tradition we have here where you have respect from the other people you play.”
Perhaps that can explain the ending to Daingerfield's last playoff win -- a 35-28 victory over district rival and previously unbeaten New Boston.
With less than a minute to go and the game tied at 28-28, New Boston faced a fourth down and were about to punt it away to a waiting Edwin Mims.
“We had just punted," Sardinea said. "We thought we needed to stop them and the decision was made to punt it off to them and just play defense. We wanted to get a three-and-out to give ourselves a chance to get the ball back. I think they got one first down, then we got a three-and-out after that. I didn’t think they would punt it to him."
Fortunately for Sardinea and Daingerfield, they did. And Mims took it 70 yards for the eventual game-winning score with 45 seconds to go.
“Immediately afterwards I was thinking there’s still less than a minute left, and I wanted to make sure the kids got under control. In the earlier game in district, we had kids out there celebrating and that made us have to attempt the kick a little deeper."
New Boston mounted a rally, eventually moving the ball to the Dainegrfield 13, before a pass fell incomplete as time expired.
"We still had to play defense, it came down to the last play," Sardinea said. "If we would’ve had a penalty, you never know how the game could’ve ended.”
It was a measure of revenge for Daingerfield, which dropped its regular-season meeting to New Boston, 38-37.
“I can’t speak for the coaches, but I know the kids were excited about it," Sardinea said. "They had put too much work in after losing in the regular season. And that was the thing, we just went back to work and put it behind us and knew we might have a chance to face those guys again. That game could’ve gone either way.”
Mims (5-8, 175) was the star of the night. In addition to the game-winning put return, the senior had two scoring runs in the third quarter and finished with 87 yards on the night.
“He’s a very intelligent football player that you can put anywhere on the field," Sardinea said. "Sometimes I wonder why I don’t get him the ball more. We do have other kids that can do some of the same things as Edwin, but he’s just special and a step above that. We put him at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. He’s just an exceptional player and we’re excited about having him on our football team.”
After winning three straight titles from 2008-10 under coach Barry Bowman (now at Paris), Sardinea believes the way his team's season ended last year -- a regional final loss to eventul state champion Melissa -- has made a big difference in this year's playoffs.
“Last year being my first year here, our expectation was to take it one day at a time," he said. "At this time last year, we were really playing at a high level. Our offense was scoring about 47 points per game, and we just met up with a really good football team. We lost that game and it really did something to our kids that were coming back. Our motto has been unfinished business."
Daingerfield (11-3) plays Wall (12-1) in a Class 2A Division I state semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Friday from Waco ISD Stadium. The winner will play either Newton (13-0) or Cameron Yoe (13-0) for the state title at noon Friday (Dec. 21) from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.