The area's biggest turnaround this regular season is shared by two schools.
Vernon and Jacksboro both rebounded from 2-8 seasons a year ago to 8-2 campaigns. And with upcoming bi-district games, neither is ready for the wild rides to end.
Jacksboro coach Brian Hodnett described the Tigers' turnaround as "unbelievable," an apt description considering they were a last-place team in 2011 that wasn't very competitive on most occasions.
"There's a Nike commercial that talks about sports don't always go the way that you want to and some people make their minds up to flip the script," Hodnett said. "That's kind of been our theme this year. The great thing is we're not done and we're going to keep playing to see what happens."
While Jacksboro had already qualified for the playoffs heading into its finale, only one of its seven victories had come against a team with a winning record — Class A Lindsay. That changed with Friday's emotional 21-20 victory over Holliday, which kept the Tigers unbeaten at home.
Hodnett said he and Holliday coach Cody Patton shared a light moment during the handshake before the overtime coin toss.
"I told Patton, 'I thought this game didn't mean anything,' " Hodnett said, referring to the game's high intensity despite the fact both teams were in the playoffs. "We needed a quality win, and that's exactly what this is."
Vernon had qualified for the playoffs two weeks ago for the first time since 2008. First-year coach Mark Bateman said the entire community has rallied around the Lions' resurgence.
"We knew we had some talent coming back and the kids really worked hard," Bateman said. "Some good things happened for us early, and we got on a roll."
Two former area coaches also pulled off pretty phenomenal turnarounds, too.
Keith Hall led Gainesville to a 10-0 record in his first season, an eight-win improvement from 2011. Hall had taken Vernon to two state semifinal appearances.
Ex-Archer City coach Steve Smith guided Post to a 9-1 record and district title in his second year. In Smith's inaugural season at the 2A school, Post went 2-8.
Munday and Nocona were the area's only squads to finish 10-0, and the Moguls also defeated the most playoff-bound teams with seven.
Graham (6-1), Throckmorton (5-1) Nocona (4-0), Notre Dame (4-0), Rider (4-2) and Quanah (4-2) all had at least four such wins. Seymour (3-1) and Vernon (3-2) had three victories against teams qualifying for the postseason.
Teams with two or fewer wins against playoff teams are Jacksboro (2-2), Northside (2-2), Newcastle (2-2), Crowell (2-3), Chillicothe (2-4), Holliday (1-4), Electra (0-3), Windthorst (0-4) and Burkburnett (0-5).
While three area teams were unbeaten — Notre Dame won all eight of its games for its first perfect regular season mark — Olney and Forestburg were the area's only winless squads.
Now that Henrietta's nine-year playoff streak is over, Throckmorton owns the area's longest postseason stretch. The Greyhounds have qualified every year since 2004 — the first season they started playing six-man football.
Holliday and Notre Dame are next with seven consecutive playoff berths, while Burkburnett and Seymour have six-year streaks going.
BEST IN THE AREA
Nocona's Tate Fenoglio galloped away with the area's rushing title, finishing the regular season with 1,757 yards and 17 touchdowns. Only five other rushers surpassed the 1,000-yard mark: Munday's Roddrick Taylor and Dee Paul, Notre Dame's Cody McElroy, Petrolia's Will Morath and Newcastle's Michael Moreno.
Quanah's Clay Robertson led the area with 2,532 passing yards and 28 touchdowns, while Graham's Ben Davis also broke the 2,000-yard mark. Other quarterbacks who threw for at least 1,500 yards were Iowa Park's Derrick Ponder, Seymour's Zach Barton, Wichita Christian's Brent Holsberry and Jacksboro's Kirk Weldon.
Quanah's Brandon Heard was the area's leading receiver with 827 yards and 11 touchdowns. Seven other area wideouts had at least 500 receiving yards: Wichita Christian's Matt Steigerwald, Seymour's Cody Adams, Graham's Bryce Reeves, Iowa Park's Jared Price and Trace Cross, Old High's Bubba Mathis and Jacksboro's Nathan Zapata.
Holliday's Sam Shirley led the area in tackles with 151 tackles, while Paul snatched the most interceptions with seven.