Tuesday , 24 April 2018

Joe Arriola: 9 Lessons Learned From Non-District Football

McKinney High and McKinney North both have the week off before the start of the district season. Meanwhile, McKinney Boyd begins its district journey tonight at Garland Lakeview Centennial. It’s been an interesting three weeks of football for our MISD football teams so let’s take a look at 9 lessons learned from the non-district season.

Hunter Walling can help North get to the playoffs

One of the big questions heading into this season was whether senior QB Hunter Walling could lead McKinney North to the playoffs. Through three games, Walling has completed 50 percent of his passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns. He’s also rushed for two scores. Now, those statistics may not leap off the page but Walling’s play at QB has been solid enough to help the Dawgs to a 2-1 record heading into district play.

The Bulldogs running game will be in good hands next season

Both Devin Smith and Selwyn Smith will graduate in 2012 so the running back duties for McKinney North next year will fall on the shoulders of sophomore Trey Smith. If Trey’s performance in the Dawgs’ last two wins is any indication of what he can offer the team going forward, North will have a great ground game for the next three years. Against Bryan Adams, Trey rushed for three touchdowns and he followed that up with a 124-yard rushing performance versus Denton.

North Can Beat A Playoff Team

Speaking of Denton, McKinney North beat the Broncos on the road last Friday night, 41-20. Denton held a 20-13 lead at halftime but the Dawgs went on to score four unanswered rushing touchdowns, including back-to-back scores from Walling. The Broncos were a playoff team in 2010 so Friday’s win was a big boost of confidence for a North team that is looking to make its first playoff appearance since 2006.

Curtis Ladd is Boyd’s Quarterback

In its short history, McKinney Boyd has always featured a scrambling quarterback in the backfield. Phillip Sears. Daryn Alves. Jonovan Griffin. The question heading into 2011 was which of Boyd’s three potential candidates would take over the role of QB. We now know that sophomore Curtis Ladd is Boyd’s featured quarterback heading into district play. We’ve also learned that the kid can run. Ladd has carried the ball 25 times in three games and is currently averaging nearly 8 yards per carry and has two rushing touchdowns to go with his two passing touchdowns.

Driskell is on pace for 2,000 yards

Before the season started, I predicted that Boyd’s offensive line, led by center Rafael Serrano, would pave the way for Bryan Driskell to rush for 2,000 yards in his junior season. So far, so good. In three non-district games, Driskell has carried the ball 90 times for 580 yards and 9 touchdowns. Driskell’s incredible speed and vision combined with great blocking up front from the Broncos’ offensive line is going to be a handful for every team in 10-5A.

Boyd’s opponents should leave their kick returners on the sideline

As a receiver, Cameron Decell is leading the Broncos with 8 receptions for 127 yards and one touchdown. As a kicker, Decell is making an even bigger impact on Friday nights as he consistently kicks the ball out of the back of the end zone, forcing opposing offenses to start most of their drives on the 20-yard line. McKinney North has a great kick returner in Brylen Williams but he was shut down against the Broncos. The following week, Williams returned two kicks for scores. If any District 10-5A teams have dangerous kick returners on their roster, they might as well leave them on the sidelines because very few teams will have opportunities to return kickoffs against Boyd.

Somborn to Casner is a winning combination…

It may not be Lee-Lipka just yet but Robert Somborn and Quentin Casner are starting to develop a chemistry that will only get better as the year progresses. Casner is head and shoulders above every receiver in McKinney in the stat department with 34 catches for 464 yards and three touchdowns. Against Boyd, Somborn hooked up with Casner 13 times, including two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

…Somborn to the opposing defense is not

Robert Somborn’s night versus Boyd looked pretty good if you focused on the 26 completed passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns. It wasn’t until you saw those six interceptions in the stat line that you realized that MHS’ junior QB had a rough night throwing the football. Plain and simple, it’s hard to win football games when you throw multiple interceptions. In the Lions’ first three games, Somborn has thrown for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns while completing 62 percent of his passes. If #4 can stay composed in the backfield and continue to put up big passing numbers, the Lions can contend for a playoff spot.

McKinney High can still make the playoffs

And speaking of the playoffs, yes an 0-3 team can still make the postseason. Just ask McKinney High’s 2008 and 2009 teams. The Lions have all the tools necessary to compete with the rest of District 10-4A. It won’t be easy. But if the Lions can eliminate costly turnovers, wrap up on defense, and stay injury free, their season won’t end with a loss to Highland Park for a third straight year.

-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com

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