Rick Herrin was a longtime sports writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before a career change into managing sports news for the Carroll ISD as the district’s Communications and Marketing Video Webmaster.
In 2015, Rick was invited to write the introduction for the historical society’s book, Southlake Carroll Dragon Football, reprinted below.
He has since moved on the serve as the Communications Director for the Argyle ISD, the district where he grew up, but we know in his heart, Rick’s still a Dragon.
The Dragon Football Foundation
Southlake was once small-town Texas with big-time football. Dragon football is a perennial Texas powerhouse with eight state championships spanning four decades.
The patriarch of Dragon football is Bob Ledbetter who took the program to new heights. He changed the culture. He turned the Dragons into the bull’s-eye on other teams’ schedules. The Dragons reigned over Class 3A in a decade of dominance that included three state titles (1988, 1992, and 1993) and a state record 72-game regular season win streak.
The streak lasted from 1986 to 1994 as the Dragons scored blowout victories that included 34 shutouts and wins by an average of 37 points. The streak saw an unrivaled reloading of talented, well-trained athletes. Carroll outscored teams 3,136-441. Ledbetter’s coaching staff remained stable and included future head coaches. (One of the best was Steve Lineweaver who served as the offensive coordinator for eight years before winning multiple state titles as head coach with Commerce and Trinity.) The execution of Lineweaver’s run-based offense helped the streak shatter the previous record by 19 victories.
In 1994, Carroll’s first year in Class 4A, the streak ended.
Todd Dodge was hired in 2000 to revive the program’s past glory, and he quickly proved to be the perfect fit. Embracing the past, Dodge branded the moniker “Protect the Tradition.” By his third season, the Dragons were back in the spotlight. In Carroll’s first year in Class 5A, the team defied the odds and rolled to a 16-0 finish and its fourth state championship title. Once again, the Dragons were making history – this time as the first-ever team to move up in classification and finish the season winning the state championship.
The Dragons were special again.
Dodge’s innovative offense was the cover story to this chapter. In his no-huddle, spread offense, passing became the trend in a state known for wishbone offenses and running back recruits. With the passing came the glory. Carroll became “Quarterback High,” producing four 5A offensive players of the year: Chase Wasson, Chase Daniel, Greg McElroy, and Riley Dodge. Kenny Hill joined that group in 2011.
Dodge’s teams from 2002 to 2006 were similar to Ledbetter’s teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The winning formula was the same: committed athletes and disciplined coaching backed up by school district and community support. In 2007, Dodge’s former assistant Hal Wasson stepped up as head coach. He returned the Dragons to the top in 2011 with another 16-0 season and an eighth state championship.
Long before the Dragons were playing in 5A and 6A, the program’s foundation was established. Building on that foundation is what makes Dragon football so special: the recognizable logo. The unforgettable games. The records. The championships. The history.
— Rick Herrin
A postscript from the historical society: In 2018, Riley Dodge succeeded Hal Wasson as Southlake Carroll’s head football coach. He has led the Dragons to the state playoffs every season since.
In 2020, the Dragons’ loss in the Division I state championship game against Austin Westlake was a personal one for Riley. The Chaparrals are coached by former Dragon head football coach, Todd Dodge – and Riley’s dad.
In 2021, the Dragon football season ended two games shy of the state championship game, losing to Duncanville in the semi-final playoffs.
Read more about the “early” days of Dragon football in these stories under the People section:
Carroll has come a long way since dust bowl days
Carroll’s greatest victories are lessons learned in losing