Last fall, the McKinney Boyd Broncos featured their best football team in the school’s short history. While the Broncos of 2007 lasted longer in the postseason, they did so in Class 4A and without winning a district championship. The injury of star quarterback Jonovan Griffin late in the season hurt the Broncos chances without a doubt and although they were able to dominate Richardson High, they just couldn’t handle A&M Consolidated in the area round. This fall, the Broncos will return to the football field better than ever and if they can find a way to stay healthy, Boyd fans may very well be making reservations for a state championship game in December.
5. The Broncos are young and hungry
This isn’t to say that the Broncos don’t have talented seniors. Anyone who follows this team certainly knows that isn’t the case. But the fact can’t be ignored that last fall a number of sophomore – soon to be junior – players stepped up and contributed in big ways to the district title and playoff run. Judging from the spring practices I’ve seen so far, there are a several white helmet players that are making a big impact as the competition for starting jobs begins. Having such young talent is a big boost for a football team because the seniors don’t have the pressure of being labeled as the team that “has to get the job done” before the program goes into a rebuilding phase. We saw it in 2005 with McKinney High and again in 2006 with McKinney North. Sometimes the pressure of being the best group to come through in a while is too much for a program to handle. This isn’t the case with McKinney Boyd because the talent level of the underclassmen is so high that even if they didn’t get the job done this fall – all is not lost.
As far as “being hungry” goes – it helps tremendously that the Broncos not only have the sophomores and juniors to back up the senior talent but also that those younger players have their eyes on the prize as well. They’re not just sitting around waiting for their senior year to come so they can shine on the football field – they’re competing and in many cases winning starting positions so that when they become seniors they’ll have playoff experience.
4. Boyd is an established 5A program with nowhere to go but up
Basically, what this means is that the district championship changed everything. McKinney High featured playoff teams in 2004, 2008, and 2009. Only the ’04 team came close to winning the top spot in the district. Meanwhile, Bobby Reyes’ one-dimensional playoff teams of 08-09 not only failed to win the district but also failed to finish above .500. Shawn Pratt’s McKinney North Bulldogs made the playoffs in 2005 and 2006 but neither team could take home the title. After 10 years, McKinney Boyd became the first MISD football team to win a district championship and it has since elevated the Broncos as an established program on the rise. There is no going back to the drawing board for Boyd. No having to worry about moving up in classification. Nowhere to go… but up.
3. Senior Jamal Palmer will lead a dominating defense
One thing you’ll notice when watching the McKinney Boyd Football highlight video at the bottom of the screen is that No. 92 makes a lot of big plays. This fall, defensive end Jamal Palmer will take the field as a senior looking to put the finishing touches on a stellar high school career. Palmer is one of the area’s top prospects and will provide the Broncos defense with the leadership and physical toughness it needs to stand out amongst the best in the district. If defense truly does win championships – look no further.
2. Junior running back Brian Driskell will break 2,000 yards rushing
I interviewed Brian Driskell as an eighth-grader at Dowell Middle School and he predicted “things would change” for Boyd football when he and his classmates arrived. Boy, was he right. The 2010 sophomore class was as stellar as they come and Driskell was at the center of it all as he rushed for 1,321 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first varsity season. With scrambling quarterback Jonovan Griffin heading out to Oklahoma State, a majority of the rushing duties will fall square on the shoulders of Driskell. I imagine his response will be similar to the way he responded to a host of South Garland defenders trying to stop him at the line of scrimmage in last year’s district championship game. Regardless of who the Broncos name as their next quarterback, the running game will be in good hands and with a rock solid defense to back it up, McKinney Boyd may not have to pass the ball at all. Expect defensive coordinators to be up all night looking for a solution for slowing down this offense.
1. Last year’s disappointing area game added more fuel to the fire
Losing a big game can either crumble an empire or inspire a new group of players to reach for new heights. In the case of McKinney Boyd, last November’s loss to A&M Consolidated resulted in the latter. Not only do the Broncos have all the talent and leadership in place to make a district and state title run. And not only are they a young and hungry team with their eyes on the prize. But they’re a team that handled their playoff loss with class and went back to work in the offseason to make sure next year’s playoff run isn’t cut short. In many ways, the 42-23 defeat has lit a fire under the Broncos, while at the same time reminding them that if they really want to win state it’s going to take a lot more hard work. This season isn’t about trying to meet A&M in the playoffs again to get revenge. And it’s surely not about securing another district title to add to the trophy case. It’s about the Broncos coming together as a team and reaching for the grand prize.
– Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com