Tuesday , 24 April 2018

Joe Arriola: 9 Burning Questions Heading Into This Week’s Football Games

The break is over.

It’s been two weeks since Ron Poe Stadium hosted a high school football game and this week the field will see not one but two huge MISD football contests. Tonight, the visiting Wylie Pirates will face off against winless McKinney High for a Thursday night District 10-4A opener. Then on Friday night, the Garland Owls will come into town for a much-hyped showdown with McKinney Boyd.

But that’s not all.

In this week’s only road game, McKinney North Bulldogs will head out to Wylie East Friday night looking for their third straight victory against the ultra-athletic Raiders.

1. Can the Lions pull off the upset versus Wylie?

The Lions need a win in the worst way and they’ll have to play a near perfect game tonight to knock off one of the district’s top teams. If McKinney High slips to 0-4 then my prediction of an above .500 season goes out the window. More importantly the Lions’ season may very well go out the window because things won’t get any easier next week at Rockwall-Heath. On the other hand, if the Lions can pull off the upset against a hot Pirates team, it will give them enough momentum to make a serious run for a playoff spot.

2. What is the status of Jonathan Shannon?

The last time we saw Red Shannon he had a fractured wrist and was being flipped upside down by Boyd’s Tanner Larson. With the bye week, he had time to nurse his injuries but we won’t find out until kickoff if he’s fully recovered or if he’ll play at all. At this point, the Lions don’t just need him on the field; they need him at 100 percent.

3. Will North win its first district road game in two years?

In their 2009 district opener, the Dawgs defeated Frisco Centennial at Pizza Hut Park. That was the last time McKinney North won a district game on the road. If the Bulldogs fail to snap their district road game losing streak Friday night versus Wylie East it could hurt their chances at making a playoff run.

4. Just how improved are the undefeated Wylie East Raiders?

It’s hard to tell how good Wylie East is this year based on their non-district schedule because it’s so weak. At the same time, just being undefeated at this point in the season is enough to give any group of players the confidence to believe they can take out any team in the district.

5. Will the Boyd and Garland players be able to keep their emotions in check?

I sure hope not. This is one of the most anticipated games of the year and I fully expect both sides of Ron Poe Stadium to be packed out. Both teams will treat Friday night like a district championship game so expect the sparks (and possibly fists) to fly.

6. Who is the real #1?

Texas Football magazine picked Garland to win the District 10-5A title this year ahead of last year’s winner McKinney Boyd. Many people, including myself, felt that even without QB Jonovan Griffin the Broncos could repeat as champions. Friday night we’ll find out which team has the inside track for the 2011 district title.

7. Can Bryan Driskell carry the Broncos to their biggest win in school history?

It’s been a great year and a great week for Bryan Driskell. In addition to racking up huge rushing numbers in his junior year, Bryan has also been nominated for the SportsDay HS Hero Award and named MISD scholar athlete of the week. If the Broncos can defeat the Garland Owls Friday night it would be, in my opinion, the biggest win in the history of the program. Yes, even bigger than last year’s victory at South Garland. And in order for the Broncos to take down one of the most storied football programs in the area, they’ll need another brilliant performance from Driskell.

8. Will McKinney High’s running game finally show up?

As long as I’ve been around the program, I’ve never seen a McKinney High offense that has failed to establish a solid and consistent running game. Until now. Even when Zach Lee and Matt Lipka led the show, they had Brett Heldt and Damion Willis tearing it up in the backfield. Now that district play is upon us, it’s time for the Lions running game to show up and wear down opposing defenses.

9. Will Devin Smith return from injury to play Friday night?

Before the start of the season, North head coach Mike Fecci said we could expect to see Devin Smith return to the lineup by the start of district play. Devin suffered a knee injury in spring football and couldn’t play during the non-district season. I hope #22 gets to play Friday night and if not I wish him well whenever he returns.

-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com

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