McKinney North head coach Mike Fecci is a man who likes to talk. In the two years, he’s been in charge of the Bulldogs I’ve had countless meetings with the man and let’s just say his passion for the game of football can cause him to ramble at times. But, after a long summer away from his team, Fecci was a man of few words when he gathered his players together on the first day of two-a-days.
“I didn’t say a whole lot,” he said. “They came back excited and ready to go and we got to work.”
Day one of training camp at McKinney North was all about business. The players came into the fieldhouse early in the morning for a practice session followed by junior varsity and varsity team pictures, and concluded the day with another evening workout. According to Fecci, he and his staff were surprised by how much their players remembered from spring football.
“We started off the day with our installation plan but we realized they were ready for more.”
After three days of shirt and helmet practices, the Bulldogs started to get ‘antsy’ and were ready for full contact workouts. On the first day of full pads, Fecci said the players ‘got after each other’ but were smart about their physicality and tackled well to prevent any unnecessary injuries.
“It was a good five days,” Fecci said. “We had high energy practices and it was great to see them in pads knocking each other around.”
Senior running back Devin Smith is currently nursing a knee injury and there is no word on when he will be returning to practice. Meanwhile, his younger brother Trey Smith has impressed the North coaches with his play at the running back position. Fecci also said that he is pleased with the way quarterback Hunter Walling is throwing the football.
One of the biggest issues the Bulldogs addressed in the offseason was their lack of depth. Now, with the season a mere two weeks away, all positions are exactly where the coaches want them to be and there is good competition for each starting spot as even JV players are showing they have what it takes to roll with the varsity.
“I feel good about our depth,” Fecci said. “We have great depth on the offensive line and we definitely have depth at the skill positions.”
This year’s varsity football team has the tremendous task of picking up where last year’s group left off and completing the mission for the playoffs. In order to do that, the Bulldogs had to come together more than ever before and Fecci said that he now believes this years group is right where they want to be.
“I talked to them about having confidence,” he said. “As a program, we have to know we can be in the playoffs. We have to play with a bit of swagger and these guys came up with an acronym for SWAG.”
“Sacrifice. Work ethic. Attitude. Guts.”
If the Bulldogs hope to stun their critics and make the postseason for the first time in five years, they’ll need to play with confidence but Fecci assured that his team’s newfound swagger will not be confused with arrogance.
“They’re not a cocky bunch,” he said. “When you put in the work, you can be confident.”
Joe’s Analysis: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, team unity is one of the most underrated elements in high school football. So often, players will look at their roster and if the team doesn’t look good on paper they somehow convince themselves that they can’t play well on the field together. Last year’s McKinney North Bulldogs helped pave the way for this year’s group to keep that kind of mindset out of their locker room. During the summer I made a list of the 5 things the Bulldogs had to do to make the playoffs and one of the items on that list was ‘Stay United’. It doesn’t matter how close they got last year because in the eyes of the North student body they failed. These players will hear a lot of negativity from their peers this season but they can’t get caught up in the talk. The Bulldogs have to stay focused and stick together and it looks like they’ve been working on their team bonding during the summer. I love the fact that the players came up with an acronym for SWAG because it was something that was done together and it will help them keep focus in a season that has potential to get a little rocky come October. I especially love the fact that we will see a much more confident Bulldogs team this fall. I haven’t seen a McKinney North team step onto the field with true confidence since my first year covering sports for McKinneyNews.net in 2008 so I’m looking forward to August 26.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com