District play arrives this week for McKinney and McKinney North as McKinney Boyd seeks to end a rare three-game losing streak. We return to the trenches in Week 5 for insight from seasoned offensive linemen Perry Radway of North, Boyd’s Tyrese Robinson and Zach Rupe of McKinney.

Things are just starting to heat up. Hang on!

McKINNEY NORTH BULLDOGS

The undefeated Bulldogs return to action Friday after last week’s bye. Coach Mike Fecci says the break was welcome and well-spent by his team. “It’s a good time to rest. We grind and we grind, and they’ve got to be smart about getting their rest, catching up on their homework and trying to get ahead. Because if you do things right, you’re going to play for the next 13 weeks, with no breaks.”

When asked about his football-less Friday, Fecci reports, “I went out to dinner with my family, which was really nice. We don’t get to do that very often.” The rest of the weekend, he says, save for church on Sunday, involved a good deal of football-watching.

Right guard Perry Radway says McKinney North's veteran offensive line has great chemistry.

Right guard Perry Radway says North's veteran offensive line has great chemistry.

Right guard Perry Radway says he spent Friday “relaxing, resting up, getting ready for Monday, hydrating – all that.” Perry, who has been an offensive lineman since he was “8 or 9” says, “I just like the contact, really. If I’m on defense, it would be contact but it’s not as aggressive as being on the [offensive] line.” A good o-lineman, he adds, must be “aggressive” and have no fear.

North returned its entire starting offensive line this year, which so far has contributed to: 50 points per game; K.J. Hart’s 163-yard rushing average; and a school-record 436-yard passing show by Christian Files in the win over Pearce. “I think we’re working great together,” Perry says of his line-mates. “We’ve built that chemistry, you know, so it’s there. It’s so good I can’t even explain it.”

Up next for the Bulldogs: Wylie East (2-1), which lost, 43-20, to undefeated Denton Ryan its last timeout. In that one, Raider quarterback Braden Shewmake threw for 170 yards and a touchdown and top receiver Jared Wyatt managed five catches for 58 yards. Eno Benjamin is team’s leading rusher and scorer with 430 yards and six TDs.

What impresses Fecci about Wylie East? “You name it,” he says. “We know Benjamin is phenomenal. The quarterback is the real deal and the Wyatt kid is a Division I wide receiver. They’re the best-coached offensive line, with the exception of ours, in the district – hands down.”

“Defensively, they’re very aggressive. Not overly big, but very aggressive. They get to the ball and they get there in a bad mood. They’re a big, big challenge for us and we’re going to have to go over there and play our best football of the year to have a chance.”

McKinney North's K.J. Hart (22) nabs a pass near the end of Monday's practice.

K.J. Hart (22) nabs a pass near the end of Monday's practice.

“Our games with them are always really close,” Fecci says. “And to have a game this big, the first [district] one out of the box, is huge.” North fell to the Raiders at home last year, 49-46, and the Bulldogs trail in the all-time series, 2-3.

Fecci says running back Micah Bualicex, who hasn’t played this season due to a foot injury, will return Friday. “He’s practiced all last week and he practiced today [Monday], and he looks good.”

Fecci acknowledges Hart’s stellar performance in Bualicex’ absence, but notes that the pair will now “complement” each other. “They’re two exactly different styles of runners,” he says. “You have to prepare for both styles [now] and that’s a benefit to us, we hope.”

 

 

North news: Standout Bulldog defensive end Justin Madubuike committed Friday, via Twitter, to play for Texas A&M next year. And at the bye break: Files has thrown for 756 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions; Hart’s 489 rushing yards and nine touchdowns are team highs; Miguel Hudson has the Bulldogs’ most receiving yards, 290 on 10 catches; and Brennan Harris has the most catches – 16 for 240 yards.

 Linebacker Zach Palmisano’s 28 tackles leads the team to date.

McKINNEY HIGH LIONS

McKinney coach Jeff Smith says the bye week “was good for the kids to work on some grades, make sure their grades were where they need to be. And we kind of had a chance to heal up a little bit. We’re fairly healthy but it was just good to kind of get our legs under us.”

With no game last Friday, Smith attended McKinney’s volleyball game with Lovejoy. “I don’t get a chance to watch the girls play very often,” he says. “They played hard.” (The Lionettes lost the close match, 2 games to 3.)

On Saturday, Smith’s Lions participated in a service project at The Samaritan Inn, a McKinney homeless shelter. “It was a chance to give back to the community,” Smith says, “so that was good for the boys.”

Right tackle Zach Rupe is back for McKinney High after an ACL tear cost him last season.

Right tackle Zach Rupe is back after an ACL tear cost him last season.

“It was a good week off,” says right tackle Zach Rupe. “We still went hard and we still got work done, but it was nice to have a week off.” Rupe is happy to be back on McKinney’s undersized but potent o-line after missing last season with a torn ACL. “We’re not the biggest,” he says. “We have a lot of guys that are under [the weight] we should be, or what we think we should be, but together as a team, getting our steps right, we put it together and make it work.”

With McKinney’s recent 41-9 thumping of Carrollton Newman Smith, a win on Friday would give the Lions their first three-game win-streak since 2013. Standing in the way are Wylie’s Pirates (1-2), a team with five straight wins over McKinney that just topped Richardson, 50-23. Wylie rolled to 450 yards of offense in that one, split equally between run and pass. A committee of nine backs carried the ball.

Quarterback Emilio Ames threw for 215 yards and four touchdowns against Richardson, mostly to Kollier Knight and Pirates leading receiver Tyrell Mauzy. Ames is also Wylie’s leading rusher. “They’ve got another good quarterback that’s a big lefty,” Smith notes, adding Wylie hasn’t fallen off here with Carsen Cook’s graduation. “[Ames] throws the ball really well.”

Smith also praises the Pirates’ offensive line and their defense, overall. “They’re pretty solid all around. It’s going to be a great game Friday night. … Wylie’s always very good. They’re always well-coached and they do what they do. Their scheme is what we see – just like us – year in, year out. Their kids are tough kids.”

McKinney was nipped last year by the heavily favored Pirates, 27-24, in Wylie. “We were pretty opportunistic in that game,” Smith says. “We created some turnovers, which really helped give us a lot of confidence and life last year. They muffed a punt that we ‘scooped-and-scored’ [on]. We had a couple of picks. … It gave us a chance to win last year and we almost did.”

McKinney High quarterback Damon Witmer (11) warms up at Tuesday's practice.

McKinney quarterback Damon Witmer (11) warms up at Tuesday's practice.

The Lions’ all-time series record versus Wylie is 4-5. “It’s going to be a tough one,” Rupe says, “and it’s going to be a good match-up for us. It’s going to determine where we’re at.”

What’s it take to play offensive line? “Heart,” Rupe says. “You have to have the heart to want to go after somebody and take care of your business.” He adds, “The running backs are doing a good job of finding those holes we’re making for them.”

So far, Walker Torrain leads Lion rushers with 415 yards and seven touchdowns on 50 carries. Rickey Fantroy is tops in receiving yards, with 56 on four catches. Joseph Robinson’s five catches leads that category. McKinney’s leading tacklers to date are linebacker Isaac Nunez and safety Jonathan Hobart, with 29 stops each.

McKINNEY BOYD BRONCOS

Boyd coach Don Drake says “execution errors” were costly in keeping the Broncos scoreless in the first half of Friday’s 28-27 loss to Flower Mound.

“We moved the ball really well and then we stalled-out drives. I don’t know really what else to say. They’ve got players and we’ve got players – and the ones that make the plays are the ones that, typically, are going to come out on top. It’s frustrating, no doubt. We’ve got to continue to get better and continue to improve.”

 

 
McKinney Boyd running back Kaeden Markham reaches for a punt at Monday's practice.

Broncos running back Kaeden Markham reaches for a punt at Monday's practice.

With the loss, the Broncos (1-3, 0-2) are saddled with their first three-game losing streak since 2009, the last year they failed to make the playoffs. “I think when you face adversity,” Drake says, “there are two types of people: There’s the people that want to look around and blame somebody else or blame their circumstances or point the finger. … Then you’ve got another group of people that put their nose down and go back to work. And they look at themselves openly and honestly and say, ‘Where are areas we need to address?’ … And I would like to think that we’re the second group. We’re going to go to work. We’re going to explore everything that we’ve got.”

That, Drake says, includes scheme, personnel and game decisions – “every avenue of what you’re doing.”

Drake also saw positives from Friday’s game, noting Stephen Driskell’s 10 catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns, and Julian Coaxum – in place of injured Jeremiah Campbell – nabbing “every football thrown his way.” Defensively, Drake adds that linebacker Blake Burton “had a great game” and defensive lineman Noah Prater “played his best football game of the year, so far.”

Other Friday night highlights: Boyd quarterback Grant Restmeyer threw for 320 yards, surpassing 3,000 for his career and moving into third place all-time for Bronco quarterbacks; Boyd’s leading tackler Friday was linebacker Braydon Webb, with 14 stops; and Doren Gibson led Bronco rushers with 77 yards, including a 36-yard TD run.

McKinney Boyd right tackle Tyrese Robinson was last year's District 6-6A Offensive Newcomer of the Year.

Boyd right tackle Tyrese Robinson was last year's District 6-6A Offensive Newcomer of the Year.

Right tackle Tyrese Robinson, last year’s District 6-6A Offensive Newcomer of the Year, says, “I feel like the defense played well, but the offense, we came out slow. After halftime, we played at a better tempo. We started passing the ball, started moving the ball downfield. That really helped us, but we ended up short.”

Before the game, Robinson pushed injured Bronco Landon Livingston out midfield in his wheel-chair for the coin toss, with Livingston in a full leg cast. “It was an honor,” Robinson says. “I know he’s struggling going through this process, not playing. I just wanted to be there for him.”

Robinson says a good o-lineman must be “coachable.” “I’ve got a great offensive line coach [Brian Murphy] and he works me hard.”

Boyd next faces Plano West (1-2, 0-1), a team also in need of a turnaround win. The Wolves fell last week to undefeated Plano East, 36-8, in their first loss to the Panthers in five years. West lost three turnovers, rushed for just 90 yards and was outgained by nearly 250 yards. The Wolves played two quarterbacks, Tanner Gillean and Logan Williams, though Williams has gotten most of 2015’s playing time. West’s leading receiver is Matthew Dean with 14 catches for 183 yards and Tyler Campbell’s 175 yards on 37 carries leads Wolves rushers.

“I know they’re going to hustle around,” Robinson says of West. “They beat us last year on our Homecoming.” In that one, the Broncos lost to a Soso Jamabo-juiced Wolves squad, 62-30. (Jamabo now graces UCLA’s roster.) Boyd trails in the all-time series, 2-3.

THIS WEEK

Friday, Sept. 25

McKinney North at Wylie East, 7:30 p.m.

McKinney Boyd at Plano West, 7:30 p.m.

McKinney vs. Wylie, 7:30 p.m., Ron Poe Stadium

FEARLESS (AND WORTHLESS) PREDICTIONS

(Last week 0-1; Season 7-3)

McKinney North 54, Wylie East 48

(Shoot-Out At The Raider Corral.)

McKinney Boyd 24, Plano West 22

(Broncos get a late stop.)

McKinney 28, Wylie 23

(The Lions’ ground game churns.)

District 6-6A
School District Overall
Allen 2-0 4-0
Flower Mound Marcus 2-0 4-0
Plano East 2-0 4-0
Hebron 1-1 1-3
Flower Mound 1-1 1-3
Lewisville 0-1 1-2
Plano West 0-1 1-2
Plano 0-2 2-2
McKinney Boyd Broncos 0-2 1-3
 
District 10-5A
School District Overall
McKinney North Bulldogs 0-0 3-0
Denison 0-0 2-1
Lovejoy 0-0 2-1
McKinney Lions 0-0 2-1
Prosper 0-0 2-1
Wylie East 0-0 2-1
Wylie 0-0 1-2
Sherman 0-0 0-3

 

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 rikat2@att.net.