McKinney Boyd’s win plopped it right back in the playoff picture Friday, as McKinney North rebounded with a big victory. McKinney, though, fell to 0-2 in district play with five games left.
We speak this fine October with three defenders who stood out in Week 6: Boyd linebacker Braydon Webb, McKinney linebacker Andy Mills and McKinney North cornerback Jamarrius Hill.
And yes, it’s Texas-OU week, folks. That means picks and/or comments from coaches and players. (Predictions unguaranteed.)
McKINNEY NORTH BULLDOGS
On Thursday, the Bulldogs (4-1, 1-1) quickly showed they’d moved past the Wylie East loss, jumping on Prosper, 24-0, almost before the popcorn got cold. From there, North rolled to a 46-18 victory.
And that’s exactly what Bulldogs coach Mike Fecci wanted to see. “You preach to your kids all the time about bouncing back from things,” he says, “and facing adversity and coming back. I was very proud because everything that we try to teach these guys all year around is for moments like that - and they answered the call.”
North cornerback Jamarrius Hill is turning heads as a first-year starter.
North running backs Micah Baulicex and K.J. Hart 1-2-punched their way to 250 rushing yards and defensive backs McShane Wyatt, Nathan Gifford and Jamarrius Hill each claimed interceptions. Brennan Harris led Bulldog receivers for the third time this year with a game-high 87 yards on 10 catches. Quarterback Christian Files hit on 19-of-28 passes for 196 yards with no interceptions and linebacker Khalil Lewis led North tacklers with 12 stops.
Sam Ashun’s 28-yard field goal in the first quarter boosted North’s lead to 10-0.
Defensive end Justin Madubuike opened the game by storming Prosper’s backfield for two quick sacks. “It set the tone for the whole defense,” Fecci says. “That guy is one of those guys that’s obviously a huge, huge impact player. But the other thing that he does is he’s the kind of leader that elevates everybody’s game around him.”
Hill, a first-year starter at cornerback, says, “We had to stop the run. They like to run a lot. I was pretty surprised when they started throwing the ball.” On his pick of Prosper’s deep, fourth-quarter ball, Hill says, “The number one receiver, he ran out, so I had to go help over the top on number two. It came a little late and I just played the ball.”
The Bulldogs face Lovejoy (4-1, 2-0) Friday, a team coming off a 45-14 rout of winless Sherman. (OK, officially, Sherman is 1-4, having been awarded a Week 2 “win” for Sulphur Springs’ ineligible player.) Lovejoy talk starts with senior quarterback Bowman Sells, who put up nearly 300 yards passing and four touchdowns on Friday – or, another day at the office for the Houston Cougars pledge.
The Leopards stacked over 500 total yards against Sherman, with nine receivers and nine rushers taking part. Aaron Fuller, a Washington Huskies commit, led Lovejoy’s receiving crew with five catches for 90 yards.
McKinney North coach Kyle Hardin (right) instructs the offense, including 6-foot-7 Gage Thomason (75), on Monday.
“The offense is dynamic,” Fecci says. “Bowman Sells is a very, very talented quarterback, an experienced quarterback. He’s played a lot of football there. Since his freshman year, he’s been their guy.” Fecci also praises two-way standout Dakota Michaels. “They’re a big challenge because they’ve got a great offense. And they play as solid on defense. … When you play teams like this I think it’s about perspective with your kids, as far as knowing that they’re going to make some plays. … It’s not when they make them, it’s what you do right after that.”
Hill says he and his colleagues are excited to face the aerial challenge. “We’ve got a lot of stuff lined up for them, so we’ll be ready by game day.”
North topped Lovejoy at home last year, 59-52, and leads the all-time series, 2-1.
Texas-OU? “Texas is struggling with some things right now,” Fecci says. “That’s the obvious. I know OU is getting going a little bit, here and there. The whole thing is, it’s a rivalry game. Those kids from Texas are going to show up and they’re going to play hard. … I’ll go ahead and step out there on a limb and say I think OU will get ‘em, but I don’t think it’ll be as big a blowout as everyone is thinking it’s going to be.”
“OU,” Hill says, adding, “My cousin [Tay Evans] goes to OU.” Score? “I’ll give it a good … 32-28.”
(Evans, from Allen, is a freshman linebacker for the Sooners.)
McKINNEY HIGH LIONS
The Lions fell behind early again Friday but, this time, with no rally as Denison (3-2, 1-1) triumphed, 35-13. “I think we lost the one-on-one battles in a whole lot of spots, on offense and defense,” McKinney coach Jeff Smith says. “Whether an offensive line block, a defensive lineman getting off a block, a receiver blocking on a defensive back, we lost a lot of those physical one-on-one battles with them. I’d like for us to have been a little more physical than we were in the first half.”
Cornerback Tyson Wilson grabbed two interceptions at Denison.
He adds, “We struggled with execution in every phase of the game. Even our kicking game, we had some big errors in that. We’ve just got to play better, we’ve got to execute better in all three phases.”
Yellowjackets quarterback Hunter Watson threw for 230 yards and four touchdowns, including a 61-yard scoring strike to favorite target Steven Wagoner on Denison’s first possession. The ‘Jackets went on to score on their next three possessions to lead, 28-6, at halftime. Wagoner finished with 11 catches for 165 yards with three TDs.
“I think the kids definitely came ready to play and wanted to win,” Smith says. “But Denison got off to a great start, scored pretty quick and then got a stop and started moving the ball again.” Smith recalls that second drive going for about 21 plays, with numerous fourth-down conversions. “They were just kind of nickel-and-diming us, 3 yards, 3 yards, 4 yards. I think that kind of put us in a little bit of a hole and our kids were playing catch-up. And that’s just not a good place to be.”
Matt Gadek led Lions rushers with 14 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. Walker Torrain added 55 yards on 15 tries with one TD. Quarterback Damon Witmer completed 8-of-14 passes for 72 yards, with Quinton Quirrenbach catching three for 26 yards. Cornerback Tyson Wilson nabbed two interceptions for McKinney.
Sophomore linebacker Andy Mills was the Lions' leading tackler versus Denison.
Sophomore middle linebacker Andy Mills, who stepped in for injured starter Tyler Batson two weeks ago, led the Lions with 16 tackles. “It was nerve-wracking at first, definitely,” he says of starting. “But, against Wylie, after the first drive, the jitters were gone. I was well prepared. I was just going my job.”
Mills says “simple mistakes” hurt the Lions again last week. “Coach [Smith] compared it to small cuts and slashes, you know, here and there, that killed us.”
For Homecoming Friday, the Lions (2-3, 0-2) host Sherman. But before marking it a “W”, recall the Bearcats felling McKinney last year, 21-14, for their only win in 2014.
Versus Lovejoy, Sherman managed 245 yards of offense, led by quarterback David Bedgood’s 89 yards passing and Chadd Perry’s 69 yards rushing. Wideout Maliq Owens nabbed eight catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
“Our approach is the same every week,” Mills says, “whether the team is up or down, we prepare the same way.” Smith notes, “Sherman is a team that’s improving every week. They’re getting better, though the scoreboard may not reflect it as much as [coach Bill Patterson] wants. They’re a young team, a lot like we are. They won this game last year, so to them, they’re looking at this like another opportunity to get on the winning track.”
“We need to win this game,” Smith says. “We’ve got to play a great game in all phases. We know Sherman will be ready.” McKinney trails in the all-time series - which dates to 1922 - 12-28-1.
As for Saturday’s Red River shootout, Smith notes, “Texas has definitely had their moments of frustration the last few weeks. But I think OU’s much better this year than they were last year. So I’m thinking OU, for sure.”
Says Mills, “For better or for worse, I’ve got to go with Texas – just like always.”
McKINNEY BOYD BRONCOS
Boyd handed Plano East its first loss Friday, 34-23, as the Broncos’ turnaround continued. Since losing by a point to Flower Mound on Sept. 18 – and falling to 0-2 in district play –- Boyd has answered with back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Boyd coach Don Drake instructs punt coverage on Tuesday.
“I’m real proud of their response,” Broncos coach Don Drake says. “Losing that game to Flower Mound was really a tough one. That was a tough loss that dug us a pretty deep hole. Those guys refocused and came out and worked hard in practice and obviously have performed in ball games and put themselves in position to win and done so. Now, as we enter the bye week, we’re in the exact same position we were in a year ago, right? We’re sitting at 2-2 with four left and … we kind of control our own destiny from this point.”
“Now we’ve got to find a way to keep doing what we’ve done these last couple of weeks.”
Boyd’s Kaeden Markham romped for 145 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries versus Plano East, as Stephen Driskell led Broncos receivers with five catches for 57 yards. Quarterback Grant Restmeyer nailed an efficient 16-of-20 passes for 124 yards and safety Parker Noren had a team-high 14 tackles. Noren also had a pick.
Trailing, 15-7, at halftime, the Broncos (3-3, 2-2) blitzed the Panthers, 20-0, in the third quarter, scoring on three straight possessions. For the first, Boyd drove 62 yards in ten plays, capped by Markham’s 1-yard run. Linebacker Braydon Webb then ended Plano East’s next drive with an interception, leading to Driskell’s 18-yard screen-pass touchdown. Boyd’s ensuing onside kick was recovered by Jordan Jones to set up Markham’s next TD.
“I think the important point in that third quarter,” Drake says, “was we had snapped it 20 plays, offensively, and they’d only snapped it three.”
Boyd linebacker Braydon Webb made a crucial play in Friday's win over Plano East.
“We were just trying to come out and play our game,” Webb says of the rally, “and not worry about the records and all that. Just stay in the moment.” As for his crucial interception, Webb says, “My brother [Braxton], on the previous play, got injured and I was, like, ‘Somebody’s got to step up and be the spark of the defense.’” That’s when a Panther receiver tried a slant route. “I saw [the quarterback] kind of stare the receiver down and I was there to make it happen,” Webb says.
He attributes Boyd’s two bounce-back wins to “hard work in practice,” adding, “We know that we have a goal and we know one game is not going to be the determining factor.”
Now the Broncos get a breather. “We’ll use this week to get healed up a little bit,” Drake says. “I’ll give them a couple days off and we’ll practice for a few days as well, to start getting ready for Plano. It’ll be somewhat like a normal routine but with a little built-in [off] time.”
At the bye, individual leaders for Boyd include: top tacklers Noren and Webb, with 61 takedowns each; top rusher Markham, with 577 yards on 108 carries; top receiver Driskell, with 31 catches for 434 yards; top passer Restmeyer, hitting 95 of 164 tries for 1,318 yards; and top scorer Markham, with 12 TDs, 72 points.
Now, Coach – Texas or Oklahoma? “Obviously,” Drake says, “if you were telling me I have to pick one, based on what I’m seeing right now, I’d have to go with Oklahoma – if we’re just picking it even, without a point spread. But there again, being in this business and understanding how this game works, anything can happen on any given day, so you’d better be ready to go play – and play your best.”
Says Webb, “I’m actually going to be at that game. I’d like to see an upset.” His score: Texas 35-27.
Friday, Oct. 9
McKinney vs. Sherman, 7:30 p.m., Ron Poe Stadium
McKinney North at Lovejoy, 7:30 p.m.
FEARLESS (AND WORTHLESS) PREDICTIONS
(Last week 2-1; Season 10-6)
McKinney North 49, Lovejoy 47
(A toss-up – again.)
McKinney 28, Sherman 13
(The Lions finally jump out early.)
OU 40, UT 20
(Hard to believe – but Bevo’s 1-5.)
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.