The Bulldogs’ 31-6 defeat of Greenville on Friday snapped their two-game losing streak and kept their playoff hopes alive.
McKinney North Head Coach Mike Fecci had said this game concerned him, with Greenville at home looking to end a 27-game losing streak. But on Monday, Fecci said he saw early on that his team was ready.
“I felt good after the first defensive series,” he said, “when we stopped them, forced a turnover, and then went down and scored, offensively. I thought, ‘Well, we’re ready to go.’ We hadn’t done that this year, where we’d gone out and scored on our first possession of the game.”
Forcing turnovers and making plays - - two things Fecci was especially glad to finally see. (The Bulldogs grabbed four interceptions and a fumble.) “It’s kind of been our Achilles Heel, up until the other night,” he said. “When we had opportunities to make plays, we made them.”
Ronald Jones and Justin Jones each rushed for over 100 yards, with Ronald scoring two touchdowns, including a 50-yard scamper in the third quarter that gave North a 24-0 lead. “They’re a good combination of backs,” Fecci said.
“They’re both good at different things. We have to use them smart, but they’re really kind of coming into their own.”
Fecci called Maliek Golden’s 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half, “a big turning point for us.”
Next up, the Bulldogs (2-6, 2-3) travel to face Wylie East, a team coming off a 56-14 beat-down of Royse City. North, Wylie East and Wylie are battling down the stretch for the fourth playoff spot from District 13-4A. “Basically, we have to win our next two,” Fecci said. “If that doesn’t happen, then nothing else matters.”
Wylie East (6-2, 4-1) throws the ball all over the yard and has beaten Greenville and Royse City of late by a combined score of 98-31. Raiders quarterback Garrett McCain has thrown for over 2,000 yards this season, and is closing in on 30 touchdown passes.
His favorite targets, Marcell Ateman and Quan Jones, are tall and fast. Running back Jabari Anderson rambled for 200 yards against Royse City, part of Wylie East’s 650 total yards on the night.
“It’s a lot like [playing] Lovejoy,” Fecci said. “Every possession, we’ve got to score. We’ve got to get points on every possession, offensively, not just eat the clock.”
What is Fecci telling his defensive secondary? “Be ready to go,” he laughed. “It starts up front, too, getting a good pass rush on [McCain].”
“It’s a big challenge for us. We’ve played good offenses every week. That’s one thing our district has, is a bunch of really good offenses. … [Wylie East] is probably, statistically, the best one.”
Prediction: Another fine effort, but North falls, 34-24.
The Lions’ game with Plano West on Friday was a shoot-out on steroids: 100 points scored and 1,200 yards of total offense - including 800 yards through the air. When the dust settled, Plano West walked off with a 64-36 win and the Lions were left with a tough path to the playoffs.
“Plano West has been putting points like that up on everybody all year,” McKinney Head Coach Jeff Smith said this week. “When they’re healthy, they’re very good on offense.”
The Lions went toe-to-toe with the Wolves early on, leading, 29-22, a minute before halftime. That’s when Plano West’s Sotonya Jamabo struck for an 80-yard TD catch, one of his four scores on the night. (Jamabo had a combined 300 rushing/receiving yards for the game.)
After the break, Jamabo added another 80-yard touchdown catch, as part of Plano West’s 28-0 third-quarter wave that drove McKinney down. “That six minutes at the beginning of the third quarter is what separated them from us,” Smith said.
McKinney quarterback Robert Somborn threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns, spreading completions equally to Connor Fuentes, Red Shannon and TV Williams. Fuentes and Shannon both tallied over 100 receiving yards, and Shannon returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
McKinney receiver Dalon Willis goes up for a catch at Monday's practice.
Plano West quarterback Travis Korry tossed four TD passes during his 390-yard outing, and rushed for two more.
McKinney (5-3, 1-2) must now knock off district leaders Allen (7-1, 3-0) and McKinney Boyd (5-3, 2-1) for its best shot at the playoffs. Both Plano and Plano West own head-to-head tiebreakers over the Lions.
“[Allen and McKinney Boyd] are two very good football teams and we know that,” Smith said. “We’re going to take them one at a time.”
Allen, fresh off a 34-7 thumping of Boyd on Friday, returns to Ron Poe Stadium this week to face the Lions. Against the Broncos, Allen quarterback Kyler Murray romped for 150 rushing yards, 205 passing yards, and he scored four touchdowns. The Eagles’ defense put the clamps on Boyd running back Bryan Driskell, holding to him to 30 yards rushing.
“We’ve got to go into that game believing that we’re a good football team,” Smith said. “We’ve to go out there and play our game and tackle well, do all the little things. … We’re going to take it a practice at a time, and a drive at a time on Friday night. We’re going to go out there and attack, and do what we do. The bottom line is we need to win these games.”
Prediction: The Lions put up some numbers, but Allen soars, 47-21.
Assistant Coach James Lorenson puts the Broncos through a ball-stripping drill on Monday.
Playing the No. 7 team in the state is tough enough without falling behind early. To wit, McKinney Boyd trailed Allen on Friday, 17-0, in the second quarter, then let the lead swell 10 points more before halftime. That was ballgame. Final score: 34-7.
“I thought they really got after us,” Boyd Head Coach Don Drake said on Monday. “There’s really not much more I can say. They played a whole lot better than we did, and took it to us.”
The Broncos’ Bryan Driskell, as noted above, was stopped cold, after averaging over 200 rushing yards per game for five weeks. “They lined up like they typically do,” he said. “It wasn’t anything that they did out of the ordinary. They played pretty fast and pretty physical, and that was a lot of the contributing factor to it.”
The backbreaker sequence was this: with Boyd trailing, 17-0, Allen quarterback Kyler Murray ripped off a 65-yard touchdown run, the Broncos fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Allen added a field goal for the 27-0 halftime lead.
“A real bad half of football for us, no doubt,” Drake said. “It’s tough to bounce back. That’s one of those games that you’ve got to keep them close as long as you can, hopefully, into the fourth quarter.”
“It’s much the same as a few weeks back when we played Plano West [and won, 55-28] in the first district game. … We kind of did the same thing to them that happened to us [against Allen]. We jumped on them early and kind of shocked them, I think, and they weren’t able to respond.”
Next up for Boyd (5-3, 2-1) is Plano East, a team still looking for a district win after starting the season 4-0. East was pounded by Plano last week, 42-12. (Boyd topped Plano two weeks ago, 15-14.)
Drake doesn’t intend to let his charges dwell on the Allen game. “I’m a believer that if you wallow around and feel sorry for yourself, that’s not going to help you,” he said. … “We’ll get after it [today] and we’ll have a great day of practice.”
The Broncos will have to contain running back Lionel Willis, who ran for 170 yards against Plano. But Plano East (4-3, 0-3) hasn’t been the same since losing quarterback Mario Smalls to a broken fibula against Flower Mound Marcus - the last game the Panthers won.
Big Plano East tight end Cody Verhulst, injured last week, is expected to play.
Prediction: The Broncos prevail, 27-14, and close in on a playoff berth.
The wheels have come off for your humble predictor, who once again posted a 1-2 mark, dropping his season record to a woeful 16-8 (.667).
McKinney North @ Wylie East: Friday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.
McKinney vs. Allen, Friday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m., @ McKinney’s Ron Poe Stadium
McKinney Boyd @ Plano East: Friday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.
District 10-5A Standings (remaining games in parenthesis)
•Allen 7-1, 3-0 (McKinney, Plano)
•McKinney Boyd 5-3, 2-1 (Plano East, McKinney)
•Plano 5-3, 2-1 (Plano West, Allen)
•McKinney 5-3, 1-2 (Allen, Boyd)
•Plano West 4-4, 1-2 (Plano, Plano East)
•Plano East 4-3, 0-3 (Boyd, Plano West)
District 13-4A Standings (remaining games in parenthesis)
•Lovejoy 8-0, 5-0 (Royse City, Wylie East)
•Sherman 6-2, 4-1 (Wylie, Greenville)
•Wylie East 6-2, 4-1 (McKinney North, Lovejoy)
•Wylie 3-5, 3-2 (Sherman, Royse City)
•McKinney North 2-6, 2-3 (Wylie East, Denison)
•Denison 1-7, 1-4 (Greenville, McKinney North)
•Royse City 1-7, 1-4 (Lovejoy, Wylie)
•Greenville 0-8, 0-5 (Denison, Sherman)