MISD teams look to rebound this week after all three endured losses for the first time this season. McKinney needed two days to complete its game due to stormy weather and the wet stuff also affected McKinney Boyd’s and McKinney North’s contests. Indeed, it was a wild weather weekend – and with more expected Friday, Boyd’s and North’s games have moved to Thursday. McKinney’s game remains on Friday at this writing.
We speak this week with three top MISD running backs: McKinney’s Matt Gadek, McKinney Boyd’s Kaeden Markham and McKinney North’s K.J. Hart – a sophomore and two seniors, respectively. And we hear from our intrepid MISD head coaches about Lufkin and Ennis opting to decide their game with a coin-toss, rather than jack with weather-guessing and double travel.
Onward through Week 10!
The Broncos’ 31-9 loss to Flower Mound Marcus (8-1, 6-1) Friday was disrupted early on by lightning delays, then by a lighting delay when a bank of stadium lights went dark. As the Broncos’ (bad) luck would have it, the stoppages occurred when Boyd had the ball – and some momentum.
The game couldn’t have started better for the Broncos, with Kaeden Markham streaking 53 yards for a touchdown on the game’s seventh play. The Marauders fumbled the ball right back on their first possession and the Broncos moved to Marcus’ 4-yard-line. That’s when the first in-game delay hit. Resuming play an hour later, Cameron Powell’s 24-yard field goal boosted Boyd’s lead to 9-0.
Kaeden Markham leads Boyd in rushing with 847 yards.
And that would be it for the Broncos (4-4, 3-3) as Marcus poured on the next 31 points, including an interception returned for a touchdown on the first half’s last play.
The second in-game delay occurred after Brandon Bowling’s 26-yard catch-and-run to the Marcus 34 with the Broncos trailing, 10-9. After that 30-plus-minute stoppage, Boyd’s drive stalled on fourth down from the Marauders’ 30.
When the lights died in the third quarter immediately after Marcus was forced to punt, “I was like, really?” Drake says. “What else?” He adds, the decision to carry on with slightly reduced lighting was a mutual decision between him and Marcus coach Gerry Stanford.
So what to do during those delays? “Most of it was just sitting there waiting out that time frame,” Drake says. “There’s only so much you can really talk about. You’ve prepared, you’ve worked, you’ve done everything.”
Nate Hopkins and C.J. Respass led Marcus Friday with a combined 263 yards rushing and three touchdowns. The senior Markham steered Boyd with a team-high 94 yards rushing on 14 carries and four catches for 63 yards, both game-highs. Linebacker Braydon Webb’s 21 tackles led Bronco defenders.
As for the loss, Markham says, "At first we had a quick touchdown and we had momentum and it kind of just died down. … The rain really kind of held us back passing the ball.”
Markham’s 847 yards rushing leads the team. His 53-yard TD run? “It was great,” he says. “The linemen all flowed left and I just cut it back up the middle. It was a nice way to start off the game.”
What does it take to play running back? “Being tough,” Markham says, “because you take a lot of hits. And being able to fight through contact, get yards after contact.” Markham says, among NFL backs, he most admires Marshawn Lynch.
Good news this week for Boyd: The Broncos still control their playoff destiny. Win their last two games, they’re in. With Allen and Marcus already playoff-bound, and Plano East perched in third place, three 3-3 teams vie for that fourth post-season slot: Boyd and its final regular-season foes, Lewisville and Hebron.
At Lewisville (4-4, 3-3) Thursday, Boyd faces a team sniffing its first playoff spot in seven years – a team that’s never beaten the Broncos in three tries. Though coming off a 27-13 loss to Plano East, the tradition-rich Farmers will be sky-high for this one.
Brandon Bowling hauls in a punt as Stephen Driskell looks on Monday.
“They do a good job of running the football and controlling the clock,” Drake says. “And they’re hungry. Those guys are playing well. … We better be ready to go play because they’re going to have some fight in them.”
The Farmers’ lone TD versus Plano East was a 55-yard strike from quarterback Aubreion Bobb to Lucas Seran. Besides throwing for nearly 900 yards and 12 touchdowns so far, Bobb is also the team’s leading rusher. Tyrell Shavers is the Farmers’ leading receiver with 560 yards and eight touchdowns.
“We can still make the playoffs,” Markham says. “We still believe that.” Boyd won last year’s meeting with Lewisville, 31-17, at Ron Poe Stadium.
Now, about that Lufkin-Ennis coin-toss: Would Drake ever do that? “I would find it real hard to flip a coin for a ballgame,” he says. “Obviously, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know all the details surrounding it. I know they had to concern themselves with travel and delays. … But, man, I’d find it real tough to go and prepare for a whole week to flip a coin and not play a down. I hope I’m never in that position, to be honest with you. It would be very difficult.”
Playing a game over two days, as the Lions did Thursday and Friday, had happened to McKinney coach Jeff Smith just once before. “It’s a different deal,” he says. “Nobody’s in the stands. It’s just different. … But I’ve never [finished] on a Friday at 1 o’clock. That’s a first.”
The Lions (3-5, 1-4) trailed Wylie East, 21-7, after a quarter-and-a-half Thursday when the game was finally postponed. The next afternoon, the Raiders (7-1, 5-0) wrapped up a 55-10 win, solidifying their grip on first place in District 10-5A.
Sophomore Matt Gadek is the Lions’ top rusher with 975 yards.
Wylie East’s Eno Benjamin rushed for 306 yards, as the Raiders tallied 450 yards on the ground.
What were the delays like? “You’ve got to try to keep [the players] as focused as you can during those breaks,” Smith says, “but it can be a little challenging when it’s really long.” Smith notes that UIL rules forbid watching game video before a contest is completed, but written observations by coaches are allowed to be studied.
“We have guys that write information down and take notes, look at formations, look at defenses and stuff. We took that information and we went over a lot of that during [Thursday’s] delay. … We spent time meeting with the kids, going over what we’d seen, what we were going to do – kind of like a halftime. Then it got to a point where they were getting hungry, you know? They were in there three hours.” Smith says peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were served in case the game resumed and fuel was needed.
“I didn’t like it,” Lions running back Matt Gadek says of the experience. “Everyone was just exhausted. We wanted to play, we wanted to get it over with.”
Play was eventually postponed, but with school the next day coaches had to make arrangements for getting players out of class and ready to play by 1 p.m. Smith says he’d hoped, with Wylie East having to travel again, the situation might work in the Lions’ favor. “But it didn’t work out that way.”
The Lions’ lone touchdown came Thursday on Tyree Johnson’s 64-yard pass to Rickey Fantroy. Gadek led McKinney with 114 yards rushing on 18 carries and Johnson threw for 130 yards. Safety Jonathan Hobart’s 17 tackles led the Lions.
Gadek, a sophomore, is McKinney’s leading rusher and just 25 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season. “That was my goal at the beginning of the season,” he says. “I told my parents that and I’ve just been trying to beat it, I guess. And everyone’s been helping me.”
Sophomore running back Josh Whytus drills footwork on Tuesday.
What has he learned about rushing at the varsity level? “It’s not like freshman [team]. You have to have other people help you. You can’t do it yourself.” As for Wylie East, Gadek says he noticed, “They’re consistent. They just do their jobs.”
McKinney gets Prosper (4-4, 2-3) on Friday, a team that could easily be 4-1, atop District 10-5A. The Eagles lost to Wylie East by a point on Oct. 9 and to Lovejoy last week by 3 points. Lovejoy kicked the eventual game-winning field goal with two minutes left after Prosper’s fumbled punt. The Eagles are led by solid FBS college prospect Robert Mahone at running back.
“They’ve got a new coach [Chris Ross] there,” Smith says. “He’s done a really good job coming in and installing his offense and his defense. The kids have really bought in to that system and are doing a good job. They’re playing really well, even though they’ve lost a couple of really close games. … They’re more physical this year,” Smith adds. “They play a lot harder. And they’ve got a lot of seniors in spots. … We’re going to have to go in and play well.”
The Lions lost their only other meeting with Prosper, 34-27, last year.
So how ‘bout that Lufkin-Ennis coin-flip, Coach? “I don’t know, man,” Smith says. “You don’t know till you’re in that situation and know the circumstances. Those are two really good coaches and two really good programs, so I’m sure they weighed everything out and tried to do what was best for the kids and for their parents and everybody traveling. Those are tough calls to make, but I’m sure they looked at everything.”
There were no lightning delays at Denison for the Bulldogs-Yellowjackets tilt – just loads of rain throughout. But that didn’t slow the point production. North led, 28-24, after one wild quarter and trailed, 45-35, at halftime. Denison (5-3, 3-2) then built a 52-35 third-quarter lead and hung on as the Bulldogs rallied for two late touchdowns.
“It was kind of a game of big plays on both sides,” North coach Mike Fecci says. “We had some really big offensive plays that were huge and then gave up some that were huge.” He adds, the Bulldogs “had a chance there at the end. It just didn’t work out for us.”
K.J. Hart is North’s leading rusher with 785 yards to date.
“It was crazy – lots of scoring, lots of points put up,” senior Bulldog running back K.J. Hart says. “We didn’t take the win, but we got pretty doggone close.”
North quarterback Christian Files scored his second rushing TD of the game with two minutes left to draw the Bulldogs to within 52-49, but an onside kick try was unsuccessful and the ‘Jackets ran out the clock.
North (5-3, 2-3) allowed a punt-return touchdown and an 87-yard interception-return score in this one.
Files threw for 387 yards and three touchdowns and Brennan Harris led all receivers with 156 yards on five catches, with a TD. Miguel Hudson grabbed six balls for 95 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs’ leading tackler was linebacker Nathan Gifford, with 14 takedowns. Safety McShane Wyatt logged an interception for second straight week.
'Jacket quarterback Hunter Watson totaled a game-high 155 yards rushing and threw for 269 yards and three TDs. District 10-5A’s top receiver Steven Wagoner had nine catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bulldogs were without standout defensive end Justin Madubuike again Friday due to a back injury. Fecci says he’ll likely miss this week too. “Obviously, it affects you when you take a guy his caliber out of there. … But we don’t blame that as the reason we lost. We just have to go with what we’ve got, and those kids get in there and give good effort and get after it.”
Hart, North’s leading rusher with 785 yards to date, now shares time with Micah Baulicex since Baulicex’ return from injury. “It’s working good,” Hart says. “We’ve got two different styles of running and it really plays well in the run game, helping to keep mixing it up on different defenses.”
Hart says playing running back requires “a strong work ethic and knowing how to take coaching and positive instruction.” His favorite NFL back? Former San Diego Charger Ladanian Tomlinson.
Dylan Tippitt (right) works against cornerback J’Varri Stewart at Monday’s practice.
North faces Sherman Thursday, a team whipped by Wylie last week, 52-12. The Bearcats are officially out of the playoffs, they’ve lost their veteran running back Chadd Perry to injury and they typically suit up only about 30 players.
An easy “W” for the Bulldogs? Not in Fecci’s book – not with two wins needed to make the playoffs.
“It’s not about Sherman or who we’re playing,” he says. “We’ve got to go win. We’ve got to win-out to get in [the playoffs]. The first step for that is this week. … They have struggled on the year, but they’re still a good football team that moves the ball on people and scores points. They struggle at times with consistency, but that’s also scary because they could all of a sudden become very consistent.”
Adds Hart, “We never look over our opponents. We always take them one step at a time. We beat [Sherman] and then we’ve got Wylie next week. We’ll just keep on grinding.”
David Bedgood, the Bearcats quarterback all season, shared time at Wylie with back-up Blaine Bethel. North topped Sherman last year, 21-16, but trails the all-time series, 2-5.
And that coin-toss game? “I don’t know,” Fecci says. “I’ve never heard of anything like that. I know it’s happened before but, especially in a district game when both teams are fighting to get in …” he trails off. “I get the idea behind it, the theory behind it, and I can’t fault [Ennis] Coach [Jack] Alvarez doing it. But at the same time, that’s tough. It’s a situation I hope I’m never put in because it’s a tough deal.”
Thursday, Oct. 29
McKinney North vs. Sherman, 7 p.m., Ron Poe Stadium
McKinney Boyd at Lewisville, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 30
McKinney at Prosper, 7:30 p.m.
(Last week 1-2; Season 14-9)
Prosper 34, McKinney 20
(The Eagles pick up steam.)
Lewisville 24, McKinney Boyd 22
(The Farmers’ time may be now.)
McKinney North 48, Sherman 17
(Not a good time to meet the Bulldogs.)
|y-clinched at least share of district championship.
x-clinched playoff spot