It was a painful week for our McKinney football teams. I shoud know since I was there for two-thirds of it. In a Thursday night game, the Wylie Pirates came into town and blasted the winless McKinney Lions. Then on Friday night, Garland rolled into Ron Poe Stadium and dominated the Broncos for a 31-10 victory. Meanwhile, McKinney North let one slip away on the road and fell to Wylie East.
It wasn’t a fun week for anybody. But it’s time to take a look back at 9 Lessons Learned from last week’s district football games…
1. The Garland Owls will win District 10-5A
McKinney Boyd is hoping for a repeat of the script from the 2010 season that saw the Broncos lose to Garland and go on to claim the district title. After the Owls lost to South Garland, the door was open for the Broncos to run the table and they did just that by winning the rest of their district games, including the season finale and district title game versus South Garland. Unfortunately, for the Broncos – it’s just not in the cards this year. The Owls are so far above the rest of the district competition and they proved it last week by marching into Ron Poe Stadium and demolishing Boyd.
2. North may have blown its chance at the playoffs
The Dawgs had this one in the palm of their hands but they just couldn’t finish off the Raiders in the end. Wylie East clawed its way back into the game and remained undefeated with a 35-31 win. And just like that, North’s hopes of notching its third straight win were dashed. More importantly, the Bulldogs are now 0-1 in 10-4A after giving one away. When Mike Fecci’s team looks back on the 2011 season it’s quite possible that this will be the game that made all the difference.
3. Marquez Husband is becoming the running back the Lions need
After missing the non-district finale game versus McKinney Boyd, the junior running back returned to the lineup and rushed for 106 yards on 19 carries versus the Pirates. If Husband’s 80-yard carry to open the game hadn’t been called back, he may have finished the night with nearly 200 yards total. The Lions passing game is on fire right now so they don’t necessarily need a dominant running game, although Jeff Smith would probably disagree. MHS simply needs a running back that can wear down the opposing defense late in the game and also get carries in the redone when the drive is on the line. Husband showed that he’s a tough, speedy runner and that he’s capable of taking the pressure off of the arm of Robert Somborn.
4. There are only two playoff spots up for grabs in District 10-4A
The Highland Park Scots. The Wylie Pirates. Those two teams will reach the postseason without a doubt. The question now is which teams will be joining them. Second-year Wylie East has raised its game, and now the competition for the two remaining playoff spots will be that much more fierce. If Rockwall-Heath remains unbeaten versus McKinney High that will be enough to convince me the Hawks are on their way as well. By the end of Friday night, there may only be one legitimate playoff spot left to fight for.
5. TV Williams is McKinney’s next big playmaker
If you watched the Dallas Cowboys’ Monday night game versus the Redskins then you saw QB Tony Romo’s clutch third-and-21 completion to Dez Bryant for a first down. It was without a doubt the play of the game and it instantly reminded me of Robert Somborn’s 54-yard touchdown pass to TV Williams last Thursday. With the pocket collapsing, Somborn used his athleticism to buy time and, rather than take off running, he planted his feet and delivered a bomb to Williams. Once the sophomore had the ball in his hands he was off to the races. Senior Quentin Casner is the area’s top receiver and leads the Lions with 39 catches for 534 yards and four touchdowns. With just seven catches this season, Williams is the team’s fourth-leading receiver behind Jonathon Shannon (21 rec, 229 yards, 5 TD), and Connor Fuentes (16 rec, 225 yards, 2 TD). Williams has two touchdowns to go with those seven receptions and is averaging a team-high 21 yards per catch. TV will make several big plays before this season is over but the real fireworks will begin next fall.
6. Randy Moncier is making the most of his senior year
The name ‘Randy Moncier’ was not on my radar heading into the 2011 season but the senior wideout has my full attention now. As a junior, Moncier totaled just six receptions for 33 yards. In his last four games, Moncier is North’s leading receiver with 20 catches for 162 yards and is proving to be a solid kick returner as well.
7. Jamal Palmer is the best defensive player McKinney Boyd has ever seen
Boyd defensive end Jamal Palmer is a beast on the football field. We all knew that coming into this season. Players with his size, speed, athleticism, and power are rare and in his final high school season he has raised his game even higher. Heading into the Broncos’ district game versus Garland, Palmer had already tied the school record for fumbles caused and recovered and set the mark for blocked kicks. At the end of what turned out to be a lackluster game for Boyd, Palmer broke the McKinney Boyd record for career tackles and passed Bo Davis as the all-time leader.
8. Watch Out For JJ Johnson
A lot of the focus this season has been centered on Jonathan Shannon, Robert Somborn, and Quentin Casner. These three Lions are making local headlines and putting up eye-popping numbers every Friday (and Thursday) night. In last week’s huge district contest versus visiting Wylie, it was junior JJ Johnson who took center stage and delivered the play of the game. It may have only counted for two points on the scoreboard, but Johnson’s 94-yard return on a blocked extra-point attempt saved the Lions from what could have been a first half dagger. Seconds before halftime, the Pirates were in the redzone and were thinking touchdown. QB Donald Slay threw up a catchable jump ball to the left corner of the endzone but Johnson was able to pick off the pass and send the Lions into the locker room with momentum.
9. Boyd needs Curtis Ladd at quarterback
I was about 20 yards away from the play when Curtis Ladd ran out of bounds and took a nasty helmet shot from a Garland player. Instantly, I knew there was no way we were going to see the sophomore QB for the rest of the night. Boyd went with Russel Williams for the remainder of the first half and switched over to senior Tyler Phelps in the second half. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty. Ladd earned the starting job for a reason and last Friday we all learned that the Broncos need him in the game to be successful.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com