It's bizarre to see high school football teams practicing in January.
It's even more strange when one of those squads has four losses this season.
"We knew that we could make some noise in the 5A Division I playoffs if we got in and once we punched that ticket, man, it was all hands on deck, and let's keep this thing rolling," Mansfield Summit head coach Channon Hall said
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Mansfield Summit is the most surprising success story still being told in this season's UIL playoffs. The Jaguars finished fourth in their district, but now find themselves one win away from a spot in the Class 5A Division I state title game.
"The team with the four losses, we're not the same team," Jaguars defensive end Kennis Emuze said. "We've grown from that. All the work in practice, all the talks our coaches give us."
"We kept it in the past. We've moved on and we just continue to work to get better and that's why we made it this far," Jaguars left tackle Jacoby Jackson said.
One of the Jaguars' postseason victories came last Friday in the state quarterfinals against Red Oak. A 41-38 thrilling win avenged a loss to the Hawks by three touchdownd earlier in the season.
"It was a great feeling," Jaguars quarterback David Hopkins Jr. said. "They had got us at the beginning of the year. I wasn't going to let it happen again."
Now Summit sets its sight on undefeated Denton Ryan. The top-ranked Raiders will be a heavy favorite Friday, but with each win as an underdog, the Jaguars have gained confidence.
"Football is such a lovely game because of life lessons just like that," Hall said. "Never give up, work your tail off, give yourself a chance, give yourself an opportunity to be successful. Just keep your head down and keep working and keep working some more and just see what happens."
Summit and Ryan hit the field at 7 p.m. on Friday at AT&T Stadium.