McKinney High nabbed its first win of 2015, while McKinney North stacked 51 points for a second straight week en route to victory. McKinney Boyd stumbled in Week 2 and has a considerable chore coming up.
We’ll speak with three senior receivers this time around: Boyd’s Stephen Driskell, North’s Miguel Hudson and McKinney’s Joseph Robinson.
Let’s get started.
McKINNEY NORTH BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs’ lucky number came up again this week: 51 – as in, 51-0 in Week 1, 51-10 last Friday. For those scoring at home, that’s two wins by a combined 102-10 mark, but McKinney North coach Mike Fecci isn’t about to pull up a porch chair.
“I thought we played really, really well the first five minutes of the game,” he says of Friday’s game at Little Elm. “Then I thought we played really, really poorly after that, the whole first half. We had a lull. We didn’t respond after jumping up on them like I wanted us to.” Fecci notes this was resolved at halftime. “We pointed a few things out that we need to do better and we came out and scored 30 points in the third quarter.”
North wide receiver Miguel Hudson had two touchdown catches Friday.
“It’s about learning lessons in these games. If you can learn those lessons and still win, that’s a bonus. And we’ve been able to do that. I was real pleased with the overall performance, we just had a moment in there where we weren’t doing things like we should.”
Bulldog running back K.J. Hart cruised for 130 yards Friday, with two touchdowns. Quarterback Christian Files hit on passes to six different receivers, ran for two touchdowns and tossed TD passes of 65 and 32 yards to Miguel Hudson.
So what’s up with 51 points two weeks in a row? “That’s just us working hard every day,” Hudson says. “Just putting in that work.” As for Pearce, he notes, “Their [cornerbacks] are pretty good so we have really work on our breaks and routes.” Hudson says he likes where the Bulldogs are, mentally and physically, right now. “We’re doing all we can do. We’re doing our best to work hard and keep our minds locked in.”
Hudson says a “good mind-set” and focus are keys to being a good wide receiver. Of NFL receivers, he most appreciates the work of Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants.
North’s defense dominated again Friday. Defensive end Justin Madubuike blew up for three sacks, returned a fumbled snap 5 yards for a touchdown and pressured the Lobos all night. Overall, the Bulldogs tallied seven sacks. “They did great,” Fecci says. “[Madubuike] and [Gabe] Dutze, Collin Pratt, Bryant Bailey, Javon Snipes and those guys did a great job of getting in there and controlling that thing, stopping the run and forcing them to have to throw it. Then our secondary, in turn, made the plays when they needed to.”
North defensive line coach Rashad Robinson oversees drills Monday morning.
Fecci says running back Micah Bualicex, out these first two weeks with a foot sprain, may be ready to go Friday against Richardson Pearce, but only if full recovery is certain. Pearce (2-0) rallied last week to knock off South Garland, 40-20. Mustangs running back Otis Blanton roamed for 90 yards and scored three touchdowns, including a 45-yard scoring strike from quarterback Hank Hughes.
Hughes finished with 255 yards passing and three touchdowns. McKinney fans will recall Hughes tossing four TD passes and rushing for two scores as Pearce topped the Lions, 45-28, in Week 1. Any talk of stopping the Mustangs starts with stopping Hughes.
Will this be the best offense you’ve faced this season, Coach? “Without a doubt,” Fecci says. “The best team we’ve seen up to this point. Coach [Randy] Robertson has been there a long time. He does a really good job. His kids believe. … That quarterback, [Hughes], is a really good player – not just a thrower, he can run it. … It’s going to be a good test for us.”
Did you know? Defensive back Ruston Travis is North’s leading tackler for a second straight week, with 8 stops each game.
McKINNEY HIGH LIONS
Big plays abound in 1-point football games – and McKinney’s 35-34 win over Frisco Liberty Friday certainly had them. But perhaps no play was bigger than a third-and-8 the Lions faced from their own 10-yard-line with 7 minutes left to play. The Redhawks had just grabbed the momentum, tying the score at 28-28, and a McKinney punt here might invite ruin for Lion Nation.
McKinney wide receiver Joseph Robinson made a crucial catch in Friday’s win.
Instead, quarterback Damon Witmer dropped back and threw only his fifth pass of the night to Joseph Robinson, streaking right to left, across the middle. Robinson reached out in traffic and made the catch – for 19 yards and a first down. On the next play, Walker Torrain rumbled 18 yards to mid-field and four plays later, after a 31-yard dash by Matt Gadek, Gadek cruised in for a touchdown from 10 yards out, giving McKinney the lead for good, 35-28.
“It was great pass protection, a great throw and a great catch,” says McKinney coach Jeff Smith, of Witmer-to-Robinson. “That could be the difference in the game, that one play. If they get a stop there and get the ball back and get ahead of us, we’re playing catch-up.”
“I was kind of thinking I had the team on my back,” Robinson says of his thoughts as the play unfolded. “At that point it was all about focus and technique.” With that new set of downs, he says he felt the Lions would win.
Witmer, by the way, completed four of those five pass attempts. “You have to make every catch worth it,” says Robinson, who names Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys his favorite NFL receiver.
“I think we saw a lot of improvement in a lot of areas,” Smith says of the win. “We’ve got to continue to improve. … We didn’t tackle very well at times and it hurt us. And we still had some untimely penalties, stuff like that, we’ve got to clean up. But I thought that we got a lot better. … I think the execution level was much better this week and I think, defensively, we played better technique.”
As for that clutch third-down play, Smith adds, “It’s exciting when you see kids make a play. We’ve talked a lot about that – not sitting around waiting for [the other team] to make plays. We need to step up and make plays, and kind of control our own destiny.”
That they did here – and, of course, when a host of Lions stuffed the Redhawks’ late 2-point conversion try for the win.
McKinney assistant coach Anthony Sowe works with Lions defenders at Tuesday’s practice.
Sophomore running back Matt Gadek rambled for 205 yards with three touchdowns this night, and Torrain added 188 yards, with two scores.
The Lions travel Friday to face Carrollton Newman Smith (0-2), which lost last week to Arlington Seguin, 37-17. The Trojans gave up 330 yards on the ground and their offense was stymied, managing just over 100 yards for the game. In Week 1, Newman Smith was trounced by McKinney North, 51-0.
Says Smith, “Part of the reason why they’re 0-2 is they’ve played two really good football teams. They’re going to improve this week, just like we are.” He notes that the Trojans’ offense likes to “grind the clock,” keep the ball out of opposing teams’ hands. “If you don’t move the football and you don’t get three-and-outs [on them], you don’t get the ball very much.”
“I feel like we’re going to do really good this week,” Robinson says. “I think we’re going to have a similar game to last week, except I think our defense is going to step it up. … I think our coaches feel pretty good also about this week.”
Did you know? Linebacker Isaac Nunez had 18 tackles Friday, tops for McKinney.
McKINNEY BOYD BRONCOS
In light of Friday’s 34-14 loss to Coppell, Boyd coach Don Drake says he’d like to see his team’s “overall focus and mental preparation” improve this week. “A couple of weeks ago, I was really proud of how we stayed engaged and when the momentum wasn’t in our favor, we kept competing and we flipped the momentum. The other night, I never felt during the course of the ballgame that we ever did that. Coppell played outstanding.”
Wide receiver Stephen Driskell says Boyd will be ready to play Friday.
The Cowboys (2-0) led, 27-0, in the fourth quarter before Boyd got on the board with a Grant Restmeyer-to-Jeremiah Campbell 70-yard touchdown pass. The Broncos managed 50 yards rushing and had two costly fumbles, one returned for a touchdown.
Restmeyer threw for 240 yards, mostly to Broncos leading receiver Brandon Bowling and Campbell, but was sacked eight times. Drake says Restmeyer survived fine, physically, adding, “I think all our kids are disappointed in our level of play from Friday night. I feel like we could have played better than we did. There was disappointment that existed there for all of them.”
Senior wide receiver Stephen Driskell grabbed three catches for 36 yards versus Coppell. “We’ve just got to play faster,” he says of the loss. “We came out there a little overconfident in ourselves.” He adds that the Broncos’ offense wasn’t always clicking, which didn’t help the defense. “We had to punt early a lot. … We just couldn’t capitalize.”
Driskell says having a veteran quarterback like Restmeyer is a big plus. “He makes it real easy for me. I just have to run my routes and I know the ball is going to be there, in a perfect spot for me to catch.” Driskell’s favorite NFL receiver? Jeremy Maclin of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Next up for Boyd: the Allen Eagles, Texas’ No. 1 Class 6A team, owners of a 45-game win-streak – fourth-longest in the nation – and winners of state championships each of the last three seasons. Last week, the Eagles throttled Viera (Fla.), 56-20, at home, giving up just 58 yards on the ground. The week before, Allen shut down Denton Guyer’s explosive offense.
The Eagles boast two talented quarterbacks, and each has seen plenty of playing time so far.
Against Viera, Oregon-commit Seth Green scored five touchdowns – three by air, two by ground – and threw for 200-plus yards. The week before, Mitchell Jonke ripped Denton Guyer with five TD strikes.
Boyd running backs drill early Monday morning.
Allen coach Tom Westerberg has told The Dallas Morning News that whoever has the “hot hand” plays. Drake says this uncertainty won’t greatly affect Boyd’s preparation. “Allen’s had a great quarterback for the last three years that we’ve had to prepare for. These two guys [Jonke and Green] are talented as well. Differences between the two? It’s really hard to say. They both throw the ball very well. They both run very well. … I don’t know that there are a whole lot of differences in what they’re trying to do when either of those guys are in the game.”
The Eagles’ top receiving targets are Lionell McConnell and Kerry Hall, and running back Kirby Bennett averages seven yards per carry. “I have a lot of friends on that team,” Driskell says of Allen, “and we’ve just been talking back and forth about how big this game is going to be for us. Hopefully, we can go out there and get a ‘W’.”
Can the Broncos put disappointment behind them and push forward this week?
“We’re going to be ready,” Driskell says. “We’re definitely going to be ready.”
Did you know? Linebacker Braydon Webb was Boyd’s leading tackler Friday, with 17 stops.
Friday, Sept. 11
McKinney North vs. Richardson Pearce, Ron Poe Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
McKinney at Carrollton Newman Smith, 7:30 p.m.
McKinney Boyd at Allen, 7:30 p.m.
FEARLESS (AND WORTHLESS) PREDICTIONS
(Last week 2-1; Season 4-2)
McKinney North 42, Richardson Pearce 28
(Hey, you can’t score 51 every week! Can you?)
McKinney 31, Carrollton Newman Smith 27
(Newman Smith is due. They stay due.)
Allen 38, McKinney Boyd 24
(A valiant Broncos effort!)
About the author: Rick Atkinson is a McKinney-based freelance writer and cartoonist. He has covered McKinney high school football for McKinneyOnline.com for the last three seasons. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.