DALLAS – Scarfs? Check. Gloves? Got it. Jackets and hats? You bet.
Defense? Well, that was optional Friday night at John Kincaide Stadium as McKinney North and Mansfield Legacy combined for 1,176 total yards and 119 points despite frigid weather conditions.
But it was North’s defense that was left out in the cold, as Legacy ousted North from the Area Round of the UIL 4A football playoffs by a final score of 70-49. Legacy rushed rushing for 601 yards in the process. As a result, Legacy will face Highland Park in next week’s Regional Round at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
While the score may seem lopsided, Legacy led North 28-0 after the first quarter and the Bulldogs fought back to tie the game at 42-42 at one point in the third. Legacy, featuring senior running back Kenton Mayberry (who rushed for 340 yards and six touchdowns) would outscore North 21-7 in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
North head coach Mike Fecci looked back after it ended as a learning experience for his players.
Fecci said his team showed a great amount of guts and heart to fight back after a rough first 12 minutes. He noted that North has come back before and when down this season, saying that his players don’t panic. “That’s a testament to them,” Fecci said. “That’s a testament to their chemistry, their fortitude and their belief.”
Junior running back Ronald Jones said North kept believing in one another and kept playing football, leaning on senior leadership to carry them through a see-saw second half.
Fecci did admit the harsh weather had an effect on his Bulldogs early in the game. The wind swirled around Kincaide Stadium, with gusts up to 25 miles per hour, and rain fell upon the turf from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.
The temperature dipped to near 35 degrees during the second half, which forced Fecci to admit following the game, “It’s stinking cold.”
The punting game was most affected by the weather, with the ball either being carried or either being knocked down by the heavy winds.
Fecci said the weather wasn’t “a giant factor” and once the players got used to the wind and the rain they were able to play through it.
North fumbled the ball five times while Legacy put the ball on the turf three times.
The frigid weather couldn’t dampen the offenses, though, as North racked up 527 total yards. Jones led the way with 282 yards on 23 attempts and five touchdowns, while senior quarterback Ben Dutze had a strong performance, throwing for 231 yards and two touchdowns on 11 completions.
Fecci praised Jones’ performance, saying, “He gave us a chance to win.”
Jones had a tremendous 2013 season, rushing for 2,406 yards and 39 touchdowns.
Tre Sanders led North with 115 receiving yards and JoMarr Davis caught 3 passes for 82 yards and a score – 14 yards shy of his season total of 96.
Legacy’s dominant rushing attack carried the load for the Broncos, accounting for 601 of its 649 yards. Its backup quarterback, Sheldon Hogan, even rushed for 140 yards on nine carries. Hogan filled in for starter Terrance Ivery, who left the game in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury. Ivery was carted off the field, and it was later reported that he was transferred to a local hospital.
Following the game, several North players could be seen embracing. Many tears were shed after one of the most successful seasons at McKinney North came to a close.
The 2013 Bulldogs brought North its first district title, as North shared the 13-4A District Championship with Lovejoy, Wylie and Denison with a 5-2 district record. North finished the 2013 season with a 7-5 overall record, including a 1-1 playoff mark. North upset Texas High (Texarkana) 26-14 in the Bi-District Round a week ago in Longview.
Following a 2012 season that saw North go 3-7, Fecci said nobody expected North to make the postseason this year, and his young ballclub can only improve from what they went through this season.
“Experiences like this will only benefit us,” he said.
With one eye looking ahead to 2014, Fecci said North will have holes to fill not only on the field, but off the field with leadership. He added that the coaches, the players, and himself, have to refocus their goals and get back to work toward achieving them.
“We’re going to have a target on our chest next year; we didn’t have that this year,” Fecci said. “We’re going to have to be able to handle that, and hopefully we will.”
Photos by Kellie Anfosso