If it were up to the Bulldogs, they would have suited up again Saturday night for four more quarters of football. That’s how fired up McKinney North was after its season opening loss to McKinney Boyd last Friday night. This week, the Dawgs are chomping at the bit to get back on the field as soon as possible and thanks to their schedule, they’ll get their wish when they host Dallas Bryan Adams Thursday at Ron Poe Stadium.
“Any time you don’t play well on Friday you want to get back out there as soon as you can and we get that chance this week,” head coach Mike Fecci said.
McKinney North may have lost its first game of the year by 32 points but the Bulldogs still walked away from the field with plenty of positives to focus on and take away from their clash with the Broncos.
“I thought we played really hard and I’m proud of our kids’ effort from start to finish,” Fecci said. “We’ve got a couple of things we’ve got to get better at. All in all, we played fairly well.”
Early in the first quarter, the Dawgs held a brief 3-0 lead and it looked like the Broncos would be in for a tougher night than they expected.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Fecci said of his team’s unexpected first quarter lead. “It was nice for us to see that we could stop them on their first series and get some points out of it.”
One player who stood out was junior defensive back Justin DeLeon, who picked off Boyd quarterback Russel Williams on the opening drive and was in on most defensive plays throughout the night. Last season, DeLeon was a sophomore on the junior varsity and the Bulldogs coaches have high expectations for him this fall.
“He has a lot of talent and he has the potential to be a really good player for us,” Fecci said. “He’s very athletic, he can run to the football, and he’s a really good tackler.”
After viewing the film of the interception, Fecci noticed that the ball could have just as easily landed in the hands of junior Brylen Williams, who was also in the right place at the right time to make the big play. Williams, who played quarterback for the Bulldogs last season, made his defensive debut against the Broncos and looked comfortable in his new position.
“He did a good job back there. He laid some big licks on people when he had the opportunity and he tackled well in open space.”
Fecci’s biggest issue with his defensive players was their inability to wrap up and tackle on more than one occasion. The other problem North’s defense had was that it was simply on the field too often and was constantly left with a short field to defend because of offensive turnovers. If the Dawgs want to make sure they don’t give Bryan Adams a shot at spoiling what should be a win for McKinney North, the offense must hang onto the football.
“We left our defense on the field way too many times and put them in bad positions,” Fecci said.
In future games, the Bulldogs want need to do a better job of not turning over the football but Fecci said the defense needs to view last week’s game as a learning experience.
“Our defensive kids have to learn that sometimes that happens and regardless of where they get the ball your job is to go out and stop them.”
McKinney North has about a 52-man football roster this season. Bryan Adams, on the other hand, has less than 35 players on its sidelines and because of their low numbers, the Cougars have multiple players who start on both offense and defense.
“Hopefully, that means conditioning will be a factor,” Fecci said.
The Bulldogs coaches feel good about where the team is right now conditioning wise after watching them go toe-to-toe with Boyd for four quarters at full speed with only one minor case of cramping.
Bryan Adams may not have the star power and offensive talent of the Broncos, but they bring a load of speed and athleticism to the table so the Bulldogs need to be prepared to hit the ground running Thursday night.
“They blitz a lot,” Fecci said. “They play hard and they’re very well coached.”
The Cougars have 16 returning starters from last season, including 6-foot, 185-pound senior quarterback Jalen Jordan.
“He’s had a year to mature,” Fecci said of Bryan Adams’ left-handed signal caller. “Last year, you could pass rush him and he may throw a few up for grabs but he’s not doing that this year. If it’s there, he takes off and runs.”
“It’s going to be a challenge to our defensive line to get pressure on him but also stay in our pass rush lanes so he can’t just get out there and run wild.”
McKinney North hosts Bryan Adams Thursday night at Ron Poe Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com