MART -- Mart's defending state champs handed Dawson its first district loss of the season Friday night with a 48-6 defeat and clinched the District 10-2A DII title.

Dawson will head to the playoffs as the No. 2 seed. The Bulldogs hammered everyone in the district except Mart and are 7-2 overall with one game left in the regular season.

Coach Ronnie Striplin's kids will wrap up the best regular season in more than a decade at Dawson against Wortham at Ed Mitchell Field Friday before opening the playoffs in two weeks.

Striplin  turned the program upside down when he arrived three years ago, and after a long drought, this is the second year in a row the Bulldogs are headed to the postseason.

They arrive with a swarming defense and a fast and formidable offense and with some good-old-fashioned values about working hard and believing in each other.

The seniors on this team were sophomores when Striplin arrived and they're at the heart of the turnaround and driving the truck on this memorable and inspirational three-year journey.

If the UIL had not included Mart to the district race a year ago the Bulldogs would be celebrating their second district crown in a row -- but with or without a title, Striplin's team looks ready to make a playoff run.

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