McKinney North needed to play a perfect game to pull off the upset against Class 5A McKinney Boyd in Friday’s season opener.
Simply put, they didn’t get it.
In a game that was all about which team could play four quarters of solid football and make the fewest amount of mistakes, the Dawgs made two crucial errors early in the game that proved too costly to overcome.
Trailing the Broncos by a score of 7-3, McKinney North fumbled the football on two consecutive possessions. Both fumbles were recovered by the Broncos defense and resulted in touchdown runs by Boyd junior Bryan Driskell, who finished the game with five rushing scores. After a quick, 14-point swing, the Dawgs now trailed 21-3 and all momentum from their early lead was gone.
“You can’t turn the ball over on your own end twice in a row against people like them,” head coach Mike Fecci said. “They’re going to get points out of that.”
Defensively, North gave up 333 yards of offense to the Broncos, including 260 on the ground. Despite these stats, Fecci said he was pleased overall with the defensive effort but not with his players’ poor tackling.
“I wasn’t happy with how we tackled on defense at all. Driskell’s a very good back but we’ve got to get better at tackling.”
McKinney North’s biggest defensive play of the came on the Broncos’ opening drive. Junior quarterback Russel Williams rolled to his right, looking for senior tight end Dylan Dickman but overthrew his intended target and the football landed in the hands of North’s Justin DeLeon. The Dawgs turned a Boyd error into three points on an Eric Nickason field goal. North’s momentum wouldn’t last long, however, as the Broncos scored the next five touchdowns of the game.
“Early on we played with a lot of passion, which was what I wanted them to do,” Fecci said. “But [the Broncos] are good at what they do. They’re going to be good this year and I look for them to make a big run.”
McKinney Boyd’s offensive line is one of the best the Bulldogs will line up against all season and Fecci felt that his interior defensive linemen did a pretty solid job being that it was their first game together.
In Hunter Walling’s debut at quarterback, the senior completed 12-of-26 passes for 54 yards. Those aren’t necessarily stats that leap off the page but Walling managed the offense well overall and did exactly what was asked of him Friday night.
“I thought Hunter played well,” Fecci said. “He handled the rush well and hung in the pocket like we wanted him to do.”
The highest marks of the night for McKinney North were directed at junior Evan Jones, who delivered an offensive and defensive performance that Fecci called ‘phenomenal’.
“He played really good at wide receiver and at corner. He’s a good football player and I was happy with him.”
The combined rushing effort of senior Selwyn Smith and sophomore Trey Smith resulted in 103 yards total on the ground. It was both player’s first taste of varsity action and they still managed to handle themselves pretty well so the Bulldogs backfield should be in good hands while North waits for senior Devin Smith to return to the lineup.
Another standout player for McKinney North was senior wide receiver Sam Lucania, who caught seven passes for 38 yards.
“He had a nice ballgame. He made some tough catches and made some plays for us and he’ll have to continue to do that for us to have a chance.”
No team wants to start the year off with a losing record but according to Fecci, the benefit of playing a high caliber football team in week one is invaluable.
“It’s a good test for us and we get a good measuring stick for where we are,” he said.
Next week, the Dawgs will get a slightly easier test when they play host to Dallas Bryan Adams. The Cougars dropped their season opener Friday night to visiting Kimball, 19-7. Last fall, North made the trip down to Forester Stadium and stomped Bryan Adams, 30-0. Fecci made it clear to his players that this year’s team will be a much tougher challenge than what they faced last season.
“They’re going to be extremely athletic and we’re going to have to come out and play well,” he said.
McKinney North plays host to Bryan Adams next Thursday at 7 p.m.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com