PLANO – Every dog has its day.
In the case of the McKinney North varsity football team, that day came last Friday night when the Bulldogs knocked off Wylie to make school history by ending a five-year playoff drought. After the game, third-year head coach Mike Fecci welcomed his team to ‘The Promised Land’.
The Bulldogs wandered in the desert of regular season disappointment for four consecutive seasons and after finally reaching their playoff destiny, their stay in the postseason ‘Promised Land’ ended in just 48 minutes.
Friday night’s bi-district matchup was decided long before the final buzzer. By halftime, the Titans held a commanding 38-7 lead after capitalizing on three McKinney North fumbles and an interception return for a touchdown. The final two quarters saw the Dawgs playing for pride and in the end Frisco Centennial remained undefeated with a 45-16 victory at John Clark Stadium in Plano.
“You can’t turn the ball over against these guys,” said Fecci, who saw his offense turn the ball over six times versus the Titan defense. “That pick-six early set the tempo for them.”
Frisco Centennial quarterback Lamar Jordan got his team on the scoreboard on its second possession of the game after scrambling through the North defense for a 74-yard touchdown run. Less than two minutes later, Ranthony Texada intercepted North quarterback Hunter Walling and returned the ball 34 yards into the end zone to give Centennial a quick 14-0 lead.
Before the first quarter came to a close, Walling made up for his costly turnover with a 41-yard touchdown run right up the middle of the field to narrow the Titans’ lead to 14-7.
Trailing by just one touchdown, McKinney North seemed to be in position to get back into the game but things took a drastic turn for the worse in the second quarter. In what was no doubt the longest quarter of the season for the Bulldogs, Centennial scored 24 unanswered points, the very same total McKinney High had against the North defense in four quarters of the Crosstown Showdown.
Fecci couldn’t pin the blame on his defense, however, give the fact that Centennial’s offense started most of its scoring drives inside Bulldog territory.
“They’re going out trying to stop them when we’re turning it over in our own 20,” he said. “But they stuck together. They believed in each other. And I’m very proud of that.”
At halftime, Fecci challenged is players to come out in the second half and fix their mistakes rather than lying down and quitting.
“Quitting is never an option,” he said.
With 5:43 to go in the third quarter, McKinney North got on the scoreboard again on a 1-yard Walling touchdown dive that was set up by a long pass to junior Evan Jones. Following an Anthony Lozoya extra point, the Bulldogs trailed by a score of 38-14. Any chance of a comeback was dashed two minutes later when the Titans found the endzone again on Darion McMahon’s third scoring play of the game. Even when his team was trailing by more than 30 points, Fecci never felt like his players were out of the fight and was proud of his team for taking on that same attitude.
“As a coach, you can’t think that way because that’s how the kids are going to think,” he said. “They never gave up and that’s the trademark of a bunch of gutsy kids.”
In his final high school football game, Walling completed 15-of-26 passes for 153 yards and also rushed for two scores. Fellow senior Devin Smith, who missed most of the 2011 season with a knee injury, was the Bulldogs’ leading rusher with 20 carries for 70 yards.
“These seniors have laid a foundation at McKinney North and I hope these underclassmen appreciate the leadership,” Fecci said. “I’m proud of all those kids for what they’ve done for this program.”
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com
— Check back later for a very special TownSquareBuzz highlight reel featuring clips from the McKinney North 2011 varsity football team —