By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
Talent can win games. Confident talent can win championships.
For Curtis Ladd, Bryan Driskell and the rest of the McKinney Boyd Bronco offense, they hope the confidence from a dominant Week 10 performance against crosstown rival McKinney High can propel them into a deep playoff run, one that begins Friday night vs. Dallas Jesuit.
With a playoff spot hanging in the balance, the Bronco offense took the field last Friday night on a mission to run the football with authority against the Lions defense. By the end of the game, Driskell had broken the school’s single-game touchdown record with seven, as well as come within nine yards of breaking the school record for most rushing yards in a game. The all-state running back finished the night with 333 rushing yards on 35 carries, averaging over 9.5 yards per attempt.
For Ladd, who attempted just five passes against McKinney, he says that the offense woke up after a missed opportunity the week before against Plano East, and were determined to right the ship before playoffs started.
“Plano East was kind of a wake up call for us,” said Ladd. “Coming out and turning the ball over on the first two drives, that motivated us to play harder. After that, I think we came together. And in the McKinney game I thought we all played phenomenally and avoided a lot of mistakes. I think we are full speed right now, and heading into the playoffs that is what we need.”
If you watch a Bronco football game, it doesn’t take you long to realize whom the offense is working through. Driskell, a senior, had a “down year” if you compare his season to the numbers he put up last year. In 2011, he ran for 2,072 yards on 317 carries and 28 rushing touchdowns. In his senior campaign, he dropped off and ran for 1,763 yards on 234 carries, finishing with the most rushing yards in the 5A area ahead of South Garland’s Marquel McNac.
What a drop-off, right?
But the Broncos finished the regular season with a top-15 rushing offense in the area, running for 246.9 yards per game. All of this playing in a district with Allen and Plano West, who both finished in the top-40 in rushing defense in the area. In fact, Mesquite Horn, Coppell, and Garland, three of Boyd’s non-district opponents, all finished in the top-40 in rushing defense.
Against these five opponents, the Broncos averaged 191.2 rushing yards per game, including 407 yards versus Plano West back in October. However, versus two of the top teams in the state in Coppell and Allen, the Broncos ran for just 109 and 58 yards, respectively.
Not exactly the recipe for success in the Bronco offense.
“I think we came out against Allen a little bit intimidated,” said Ladd. “They had won state a few years ago and were No. 7 in the state at the time, so we kind of came out intimated.”
But while the outcomes were not what Boyd desired, the lessons learned from playing strong defensive units like Allen and Coppell have paid dividends for this offensive unit.
“We kind of realized that they (Allen) weren’t as good as we thought, so we learned that if we come out and play our offense, which I think is one of the best, we should be fine,” said Ladd.
“I think it prepared us a lot,” said Driskell. “I believe we are a different team now than when we played Coppell, and I feel like we are a lot more confident having played those kinds of teams we played this year.”
On Friday night, the Broncos will face their sixth opponent to finish in the top-40 in rushing defense in Dallas Jesuit. The Rangers finished seventh in the area in rushing defense, allowing 134.6 yards per game in District 9-5A that had five teams finish in the top-40 in rushing offense.
Jesuit also has two Division-I, Big 12 Conference recruits along the defensive front seven, with defensive end J.D. Waggoner committed to Iowa State and linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni committed to Oklahoma.
But despite all of the talent that Jesuit has on the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos offensive leaders are confident that they can move the ball down the field and score some points.
“I think we are going to be able to run the ball against them,” said Driskell. “They have some good players, but I feel like we have prepared well in practice that we are ready for them.”
Ladd added: “They have two Division-I defensive players, so they have some athletic guys. They are a good team, but there is not much that is special about them. We should do good I think.”
When asked what the one area of the game the Broncos had to win in order to advance past Jesuit, Driskell said it’s about winning the one-on-one matchups.
“I think we are going to get a lot of one-on-one matchups with wide receivers, corners, and blocking as well. I feel like if we win the one-on-one battles, we will win the game.”
Boyd will take on Jesuit on Friday night at Plano’s Clark Stadium. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m.