Though they practice indoors when the weather’s bad and have scrimmaged inside on occasion, the Greenville Lions have never played a football game in an indoor stadium.
That will change at 7 p.m. Thursday when the 6-4 Lions take on the 9-1 Frisco Raccoons in a Class 5A, Division II bi-district game at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco. It’ll be the first time for the Lions to play at the 12,000-seat indoor stadium that is shared by the Dallas Cowboys, the Frisco ISD and the City of Frisco though they once played at what is now called Toyota Stadium against Frisco Liberty. Back then the outdoor stadium was called Pizza Hut Park.
The Lions have played at a variety of stadiums through the years. Even at Texas Stadium, the former home of the Dallas Cowboys. But that stadium had a hole in the roof. This one does not.
Lions coach Darren Duke said the opportunity to play in that plush facility is why he agreed to play on Thursday rather than the usual Friday schedule.
“It’ll be such a great experience for the kids and the fans so I’m looking forward to it,” said Duke.
This will be the second straight district champion the Lions have faced. They pushed Ennis, the District 8-5A-II champion, to the limit on Friday at Ennis before falling 32-25. Ennis won on a 3-yard touchdown run by 6-2, 240-pound senior Jarius Jones with 42 seconds remaining. That was the first time Ennis led in the game. The Lions, who were up by as much as 18 points, led for 41 minutes and 25 seconds.
Duke said the Lions received some pride with that performance and earned respect from Ennis, which went 8-0 in district play.
“Nobody (in the district) has pushed them like that,” he said.
Frisco shared the 7-5A-II title with Braswell at 7-1 but earned the top seed with a 33-28 win over the Bengals.
Frisco’s only loss this season was 10-7 to district opponent Denison.
The Lions should match up well with Frisco, according to Duke. He said the Raccoons don’t appear to better than Royse City, Corsicana and Ennis, the other three playoff teams in 8-5A-II.
“I think we’ve got a good chance to beat them,” he said.
This will be the Lions’ first appearance in the football playoffs since 2003. Frisco advanced to the playoffs last season, finishing at 7-5 with a 41-14 bi-district win over Sulphur Springs and a 48-16 area playoff loss to Dallas South Oak Cliff.
The other three 8-5A-II playoff teams will play on Friday night. Ennis, the district champion and top seed, will play host to Frisco Reedy at 7:30 p.m. Royse City, the No. 2 seed, will play at home against Lucas Lovejoy at 7:30. It’s Royse City’s first appearance in the football playoffs since 2011. Corsicana plays at Braswell at 7.
Royse City tied with Corsicana for second place in the district standings at 6-2 but claimed the second seed because of a victory over Corsicana.
Greenville tied with North Forney for fourth place at 5-3 but earned the fourth playoff berth because of a win over the Falcons.
Final football standings
District Overall PF PA
Ennis 8-0 9-1 368 163
Royse City 6-2 8-2 334 155
Corsicana 6-2 7-3 259 184
Greenville 5-3 6-4 305 196
North Forney 5-3 7-3 450 250
Kaufman 3-5 3-7 169 386
Forney 1-7 2-8 119 343
Terrell 1-7 1-9 144 343
Sulphur Springs 1-7 1-9 176 357
Last week’s results
Ennis 32, Greenville 25
Royse City 48, Terrell 10
North Forney 70, Sulphur Springs 13
Kaufman 42, Forney 28
Bi-district playoff games
Greenville at Frisco, 7 p.m. Thursday.
Corsicana at Braswell, 7 p.m. Friday.
Frisco Reedy at Ennis, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Lucas Lovejoy at Royse City, 7:30 p.m. Friday.