Hours before the homecoming football game, rain fell down on McKinney and Ron Poe Stadium.
During the game, however, it was the points that rained down on the visitors from North Garland, as McKinney High dominated the Raiders 48-7 Friday night to improve its record to 3-1 on the season.
It was a festive night for the school, as seniors Blake Hutto and Marie O’Dell were named homecoming king and queen, respectively. Hutto has recovered from a coma since last year and is doing well. O’Dell is president of the National Honor Society.
On the field things were just as festive.
McKinney head coach Jeff Smith said his Lions have yet to play a complete four quarters of football, but said an early turnover and touchdown sparked his club, sparking the Lions to play a complete game.
“Good to see our kids make plays and play a complete game and finish it out,” Smith said.
North Garland came into the game 0-3 on the season, losing to Hillcrest 31-13 last week.
McKinney’s offense exploded for 532 total yards of offense Friday night, and especially explosive was the aerial attack for MHS.
Junior quarterback Bryan Sutter went 9-for-14 passing for 184 and three touchdowns, and an effective passing game was what Smith was looking for three weeks before their district opener.
Smith said to win in their district – a district that includes Plano Senior, East, West, McKinney Boyd and two-time defending state champion Allen – “we just can’t run it.”
He said early in the season the Lions had been leaning heavily on the run, running the ball 80 percent of the time, but knows that percentage has to go down to be successful against strong competition.
“We’ve got to be able to throw the ball – we all know that, the kids know that,” he said.
Leading the team in receiving Friday night was senior receiver TV Williams, a University of Kentucky commitment, who caught two passes for 115 yards and a score. Williams said North Garland’s defense was playing a man-to-man system, but giving him, and the other McKinney receiver’s space on the line of scrimmage.
The offense took advantage of the space, Williams said, running several screen passes and deep passing routes to get their skill players one-on-one with against a smaller defensive unit.
McKinney was successful running the ball, also, totaling 320 rushing yards on the night. Senior Tommy Candela led the way on the ground with 130 yards on six carriers and a score. Junior Antonio Oliver rushed for 111 yards and a score on seven carries.
McKinney began its annual homecoming game strong, forcing a turnover on North Garland’s first offensive play – a fumble recovery by junior corner Myron Robinson.
The turnover led to a 17-yard Oliver touchdown run to give MHS a 7-0 lead.
The Titans were able to tie the game at 7-7 soon after, but McKinney’s offense too flight, scoring three times in around seven minutes in the second quarter to give MHS a 27-7 lead going into the half.
McKinney would add three more scores in the second half to secure the 48-7 victory.
And for Williams, who was celebrating his last homecoming game, Friday’s victory was exactly how he imagined it would.
Senior defensive end Keenan Samuel, however, did not finish his last homecoming game, leaving the game in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury. He did not return.
Williams said he “teared up a little bit” when he saw Samuel – a teammate of his since the seventh grade – be helped off the field and unable to finish the game.
Williams said the injury to Samuel looked “pretty serious” but wouldn’t comment further. Smith said he was not certain of the extent of Samuel’s injury following the game.
With its district opener against Plano Senior looming on Oct. 10 at Ron Poe Stadium, McKinney’s final non-district game will be a road test against Denton Ryan on Sep. 27.
Smith said the game against Denton Ryan is a “big one,” saying the squad will be great challenge for a McKinney squad heading into district play.
Williams said the key to next week’s game is “staying even,” as the coaches put it. He noted McKinney runs a lot on momentum, saying when things are going their way ““we can play with anybody in the country,” but said team, at times, hangs their head when the ball doesn’t bounce their way.
Homecoming king and queen picture submitted by Stephanie O’Dell