Dallas Leader’s Male Athlete of the Year

Published 3:00 pm Friday, July 15, 2016

WEST ORANGE — Sometimes a lot of us must think that West Orange-Stark senior-to-be Jack Dallas has to pinch himself each day when he looks back on the success he has had the last two years in a Mustang football and baseball uniform.

After all, the young man has participated in three Class 4A State Championships. He was a key cog as the quarterback in back-to-back 4A Division II State Football Championship games, including last season’s 22-3 state title victory over Celina.

He has also played a key role in WO-S’ baseball success as the Mustangs stormed all the way to the 4A State Championship Game in 2015 in which they finished a surprising runnerup. WO-S also reached the third round of the postseason on the diamond this past campaign.

Dallas has played in an astonishing 31 playoff games the last two years, 12 in football and 19 in baseball. It would be hard to fathom to find a senior-to-be in the state that can lay claim to that feat.

However, Dallas remains so humble. He knows, without tremendous teammates and coaches and a strong family base, that it all would not have been possible.

With his efforts, not only on the field of play but off the field as well, Dallas is the 2016 Orange Leader Male Athlete of the Year.

“This is a tremendous honor but I would never be here if it wasn’t for my family, along with the coaches and my teammates, who are all like one big family to me,” said Dallas. “We’re like one big brotherhood. We always have everyone’s backs in everything we do. We all can be tough on each other but we call it tough love because we all have those goals we want to reach. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of teammates.”

The 2015 football campaign was a whirlwind for Dallas. Not many pundits thought that the Mustangs could rack up a state title, not after losing 18 seniors off a 2014 state finalist team. Just one offensive starter returned — Dallas, and just four defensive starters.

Well, the Mustangs certainly nipped that in the bud.

What did they do? They only brought home WO-S’ third state crown in school history, setting records in the process.

“A lot of people didn’t give us a chance to win it last year and that motivated us, but we knew, with the talent and leadership we had, we could do it all along,” said Dallas. “Growing up with so many of the guys, and we have a big senior group this year, we always dreamed of winning it all, even when we were little. To be able to do it was so special, now we’re concentrating on doing it again. How awesome would that be, to play in a State Championship three years in a row as a class? We’re going to give it our best shot.”

The Mustangs went 15-1, outscoring opponents 671-168 with the 671 points easily being a school record.

Dallas proved his might as a field general, doing everything that was asked of him and was such a true leader of a team that bonded so well.

He completed 209-of-321 passes for a whopping 3,113 yards to go along with 38 touchdown passes and a mere seven interceptions.

Even more stunning was how high those numbers actually could have been had the Mustangs not taken the gas off the pedal in a season that featured plenty of blowout victories.

In two seasons, Dallas’ career numbers are staggering. He has completed 377-of-612 passes for 5,466 yards and has 69 TD tosses and just 15 interceptions.

Dallas likes the numbers, but more things are important.

“Numbers are fine to look at and all, but the main thing is about winning games and championships and having fun with your teammates and creating lasting memories along the way,” said Dallas. “For all of us, we don’t worry about those that are in the limelight more than others, because that happens sometimes, especially when it comes to the skill positions, that’s just the nature of things. Without those big guys up front, none of our achievements would’ve been possible. My teammates know and I certainly know that without all of us, none of us would be here today talking about going to State for the third year in a row. To me, I’m just one of the guys.”

No doubt, Dallas enjoys wearing a Mustang uniform as long as he possibly can.

The last two springs, the Mustang baseball team has had amazing runs.

As a sophomore, Dallas was part of a magical jaunt when the Mustangs, who finished third in District 24-4A, found the “Mojo” at the perfect time as they stormed all the way to the 4A State Championship Game.

Dallas played a huge factor in the run, capturing a couple Game Three victories from the mound and also coming up with big hits.

On the road to the state game, he hit .375 with 25 runs batted in and notched a 6-1 record on the mound.

“That was a great run for sure because everyone counted us out way back when district started,” said Dallas. “We always came up big when we had too, got to the playoffs and then everything starting happening. We lost a couple Game Ones in a couple series but we rallied together as a team to win both of those series and got to state. Wow, that was such a fun ride and to come so close to winning it still stings. The football runs were so enjoyable but that baseball run was so special because we came out of nowhere.”

This past season, which saw the Mustangs reached the Region III quarterfinals where they fell to District 24-4A rival Bridge City, Dallas notched a 7-4 record on the hill with a 1.62 earned run average and also found time to hit .352 with 24 RBI.

“We had a good year this year too,” said Dallas. “We were able to win a couple rounds in the playoffs and fought hard with Bridge City. Just to get out of our district was awesome. Just look at the playoffs, four of the teams (Bridge City, Silsbee, WO-S, LC-M) were among the final eight left in the region. We will look to come right back next year and go for it again. That’s our mentality, we’re not going to back down and everyone knows that the Mustangs are going to play hard.”

Dallas has played a little baseball this summer along with taking a vacation with his family and has found time to do some fishing.

However, Aug. 1, the first day of football practice, can’t get here quick enough.

“We’re all just chomping at the bit to get out on the field and get things going,” said Dallas. “Really, after going on vacation early this summer was relaxing, but as soon as we got back, I’ve had football on the brain. I can’t wait to get out there with my teammates and coaches and go back to work. We won’t be flying under the radar like we were last year because we have so many of us returning. We will certainly be a target on everyone’s schedule this time for sure. We have so much faith of what we can do, we just have to go out there and do our best to get it done again.”

And the Mustangs will certainly be going for it all again aided by a young man that is definitely, “just one of the guys,” and who soaks up every second of it.