Fort Worth

North Side High School Football Team Makes Playoffs For First Time in 40 Years

Team credits persistence and hard work for success

The North Side High School football team in Fort Worth has made it to the playoffs for the first time since 1979.

"It's been a long time," said Gary Artiaga, who played in the school's last playoff game. "It is kind of hard to believe 40 years have gone by in the blink of an eye, you know. A lot of time has passed."

In four decades, never a post-season.

Until now.

"I just wanted to compete," said principal Tony Martinez. "I just didn't want to get beat 60 to nothing, 70 to nothing, which was happening."

When he became principal 10 years ago, he said the stands were empty and other schools would schedule Homecoming games against North Side to guarantee themselves a win.

So five years ago, Martinez hired Coach Joseph Turner, a former TCU player, to turn the program around.

"Just working hard, sticking to the plan," Turner said before practice Thursday.

His plan: Baby steps.

Win just one more game than last year.

"It's been great. We've been working hard all season," said junior receiver Dawain Lofton. "Everybody's been happy, excited, and we have a pep rally for it tomorrow."

The team's secret this season?

"I think it's a combination of everything because everyone here puts in as much work as everyone else and we want to keep what we're doing," said junior quarterback Isaak Rosales.

And it's a challenge.

Many players in the school's working-class neighborhood juggle practice and homework with part-time jobs.

Lofton works at a shoe store.

"Just bringing some extra money for my mom, helping her out," he said.

In his last pep talk after practice, the coach encouraged his team to stay focused.

"Keep your heads down.," Turner said. "Don't look in the stands. Don't look at the lights. Just keep your heads down and play ball and we'll celebrate after."

Artiaga, the alum who happens to be the principal's cousin, will be there Friday night at Farrington Field to root on the team in the playoff game against Wichita Falls.

"I wish them good luck and hey, anything can happen," he said. "The big lesson is never give up."

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