Some Dallas-area soccer teams begin play in the district this week. Others have one more non-conference contest on their early-season roster. But for districts like 8-6A and 10-6A, the district game won’t start for another two weeks.
More out-of-district games means more preparation, but three non-conference games is the sweet spot for coaches like Arlington High’s Scott Peach. But because Arlington competes at 8-6A, a district with seven teams, Peach’s team and other schools in the conference, like Arlington Martin, play four out-of-district competitions.
Arlington outscored Mesquite in Week 1 before falling 17-14 to North Crowley last week. Keller Fossil Ridge and Mesquite Horn are next on the schedule before Arlington kicks off the district game on Sept. 23 against Grand Prairie.
“For me, eight-team districts are always the best option. And the reason is because you can play three non-district games, have a bye week and then start the district game,” Peach said. “And the other nice thing about eight teams is that you can control where your bye goes, whereas when you have a seven-team district, your bye falls wherever the draw happens, and that’s not a big deal. But we have seven teams. and it’s a competitive district and we’re excited about that.”
While Peach would prefer an eight-team district, he said a smaller field makes it easier to get into the playoffs. Teams in seven-team districts essentially only need to win four district games to play in the postseason.
The reverse is true for nine-team districts like 7-6A, which play only two non-conference games before district contests begin.
Last year, Arlington went 3-4 in district play and missed the playoffs.
“We have 11 goals on our vision board,” Peach said. “The main goal every year is to get to the playoffs. … Fourteen of the last 15 years, we’ve been to the playoffs.”
Mesquite head coach DeMarcus Harris doesn’t mind the seven-team field at 10-6A. He said four games out of district give him more time to determine the identity of his team: how players respond to close matchups and difficult opponents.
Mesquite lost 40-37 to Arlington in Week 1, but beat North Mesquite 44-32 last week. The team, which competes in the same district as powerhouses Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath, plays Lewisville this week and Arlington Lamar next.
“We tried to schedule the toughest out-of-district games we could,” Harris said. “All of us who played would be classified.”
Last year, Mesquite went 4-2 in 10-6A before losing to Duncanville in the area round of the Class 6A Div. I playoffs. For Harris, non-conference, district and playoff games are their own entities for most of the season, regardless of how many play.
“We look at one season as three seasons,” Harris said. “So the first four, that’s one season. District, that’s a season. So we will come that Monday after Arlington Lamar and go crazy.”