Fans of high school football in McKinney are ready to watch their favorite local teams play in some great gridiron match-ups.

McKinneyOnline.com is proud to bring you the following season preview.

McKinney North High School

Head coach Mike Fecci begins his fourth season with the Bulldogs in a new northern-flavored home, District 13-4A. 

“I think it’s going to be fun,” he says. “I think getting back in there with Sherman and Denison is exciting to us because the tradition that those two schools have.” The move also involves a chance to play teams North has never faced, like Royse City and Lovejoy.

The 6-4 Bulldogs made the playoffs last season with a 4-3 district mark and lost in the first round to Frisco Centennial. North returns 13 starters, five on offense, eight on defense. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine picks the Bulldogs to return to the playoffs, with a fourth place finish behind Wylie East, Sherman and Wylie.

Junior Trey Smith (shown at left), who rushed for 560 yards last year on just 55 carries, appears more than ready to go.

“Trey had a really, really good summer,” Fecci says. “He came in in great shape. … He’s going to tote the rock a bunch for us.”

Smith will run behind a seasoned line anchored by All-District standouts Austin Horton and Sean Yoo.

Junior Ben Dutze assumes starting quarterback duties for the Bulldogs. “I’ve been real happy with him,” Fecci says. “He really has a good grasp of our offense.”

On defense, the Bulldogs feature two All-District defensive backs in Evan Jones and Richy Avilez, who both moved from cornerback to safety this year. Jones will again start on offense as well, at wide receiver.

All-District defensive tackle Eric Mills, defensive tackle Preston Speers and linebacker James Triplett give North strength up front.

The Bulldogs open the season tonight at Carrollton Newman Smith, a team with a good shot at the playoffs as well. The Trojans are coming off a disappointing 2-8 season, but feature a formidable defense.

Fecci notes that the Trojans’ large, quick linemen are key factors in their defensive success. “That frees up their linebackers to really get downhill and flow and run.”

“They’re very fundamentally sound in what they do,” Fecci says. “They have a good scheme on offense and defense.”

Fecci says Newman Smith gave 5A Garland “a heck of a battle” early on in their scrimmage. “And we’re going to be in for the same thing [Thursday] night.”

This is a good early test for North. It says here the Bulldogs pass it, 21-17, with a late score.

McKinney Boyd High School

Head coach Don Drake begins his seventh season at Boyd with a squad that could very well return to the playoffs. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine picks Boyd third in its new District 10-5A home, behind enrollment behemoths Allen (5,388) and Plano East (6,016). 

Boyd’s enrollment: 2,900.

But playing with the “big boys” should be no shock to Boyd, Drake notes, as the Broncos were in this district not long ago. “The kids that we have this year that are seniors for us, they were freshmen the last time that we played in that district,” he says. “Our kids are excited at having the opportunity to go and compete against those guys again.”

The Broncos finished with an 8-3 mark last season in the old Garland-packed 10-5A. They lost to eventual state semi-finalist Skyline in the first round of the playoffs. The Broncos return 11 starters from that team, five on offense, six on defense.

All-State running back Bryan Driskell (shown at right in the white and red jersey) is back for his senior year and that’s bad news for Boyd opponents. Driskell racked up 2,079 yards rushing on 317 carries last season, including 28 rushing touchdowns.

“He’s ready to go,” Drake says. “He had a great week last Friday in our scrimmage.”

Junior quarterback Curtis Ladd and sophomore wide receiver Dedrick Scrivens should highlight the Broncos’ air attack.

Defensively, Boyd has senior leadership. Drake points to safety Daylon Markham and cornerback Chris Stanton, as well as experienced linebackers Adam Kimm, Paine Matiscik and Ben Bouchez.

The Broncos open the season at home on Friday against the Mesquite Horn Jaguars. The Jags are coming off a 4-7 campaign that ended in a first-round playoff loss to Copperas Cove. Like Boyd, Horn is picked to return to the playoffs.

Horn features a dangerous double-threat quarterback and speed at running back and receiver. Defensively, the Jags boast top-notch linebackers. Drake watched some of Horn’s recent scrimmage against Lake Highlands. “They were impressive, so we’ll have our hands full.”

This one should be close, with Boyd prevailing at home. Call it, Broncos, 31-24.

McKinney High School

Third-year McKinney head coach Jeff Smith and the Lions have a job ahead of them.

After finishing 0-10 last season in District 10-4A with North, McKinney finds itself kicked up to 5-A with Allen, Plano East and Boyd, as the smallest school in 10-5A.

But Smith and the Lions welcome the challenge.

“When we told our kids [of the move to 5A], our kids embraced it,” Smith says. “Our kids were excited about it. The bottom line is, we’re not going to make excuses. We’re going to attack whatever’s in front of us.”

The Lions will attack with 17 returning starters – the most of any McKinney high school this year – and they have a proven senior at quarterback in Robert Somborn. Somborn passed for 2,245 yards and 24 touchdowns last year – with no interceptions.

“It helps me sleep a lot better [having Somborn back],” Smith says. “Robert’s got a lot of experience, a lot of maturity, a lot of leadership. … As a football team, as a whole, we have a lot of maturity.”

McKinney should have no problem airing it out in 2012 with returning speedster receivers Red Shannon, TV Williams and Connor Fuentes.

“All three are guys that can score and make things happen,” Smith says.

Defensive standouts Matt Reynolds (linebacker), Troy Taylor (defensive tackle) and Kennan Samuel (defensive end) are intent on improving a Lions defense that gave up over 40 points per game last year.

The Lions open the season in Mansfield on Friday against the Legacy Broncos, a team picked seventh in District 15-4A by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine. Legacy finished with a 2-8 mark in 2011 in Class 5A.

“They run really well,” Smith says. “They’ve got a good, young running back … and a quarterback that’s a good manager of the game. Defensively, we’ve got to stop the run.”

Look for McKinney to snap its losing streak, 27-21, with Somborn’s arm and a rejuvenated defense.