ARLINGTON – It was written.
South Oak Cliff head coach Jason Todd fired off a tweet at 9 a.m. of Saturday’s final day of state championships that said exactly that: “It’s already written!!!”. And because it was written, it had to happen.
The Golden Bears clinched the first Dallas ISD state championship since 1958 and the first in program history with a 23-14 victory over Liberty Hill in the 5A Division II state championship. They’re also the first major city school district to do it since Houston Yates in 1985.
And perhaps it was intended to be prophetic. All season, the SOC players wore warmups with “11.22.20-12.18.21 Process” written on the back. The starting date was the last time the team lost to Frisco when quarterback Kevin Henry-Jennings wasn’t starting, and the end date was Saturday. There wasn’t another option for the end-goal. Todd marks that last loss as the turning point for the program.
“We had to make some adjustments as coaches,” Todd said. “We got to allow players to play and put the ball in their hands a lot more often and let Mr. Jennings do what he does. That whole process, the end date was always this.”
“We were representing Dallas ISD and that was a model we had long before we started the playoffs,” Todd said. “We were one school out of 22 high schools and those other 21 high schools were on our back too. Not only current teams, but the teams of the past.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find college home games with the rabid support the Golden Bears had inside AT&T Stadium. The attendance for the 5A DII title game, technically the “smallest” game of the day, was at over a daunting 42,000 people. Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall was in attendance with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins as well as Dallas police chief Eddie Garcia, whose Twitter profile photo donned a SOC helmet. After the win, Dallas mayor Eric Johnson announced there would be a parade for the program’s title. It wasn’t a South Oak Cliff event or even an Oak Cliff event – it was a Dallas event.
Neither Jennings nor defensive MVP Abdul Muhammad could’ve imagined playing in front of over 40,000 people. Muhammad’s face lit up when he found out the exact number.
“It means a lot,” Jennings said. “We did for all of Dallas really and we got them at our back, and we just kept pushing for them.”
“It just means a lot,” Muhammad added. “The whole city was behind us, and we knew what we had to do so we came out and finish what we started.”
For Todd, it was an occasion he was quite literally born for. He’s the grandson of the late Dr. Frederick Todd Sr. who served as principal at South Oak Cliff for 14 years. He was in attendance for Dallas Carter’s 1988 state title that was later revoked, and he’s never coached or played anywhere but in the city of Dallas. It was only fitting that a true son of Dallas was the one to coach the team that broke the city’s drought.
“This was about Dallas and putting Dallas back on the map and showing that we can play ball with anyone else in the state of Texas,” Todd said.
For his quarterback, Jennings. After breaking out during the postseason and earning his first collegiate offer in November, he quickly committed and signed to an offer to stay and continue to represent the city at SMU.
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