Monday , 23 April 2018

McKinney North Football: Dawgs Must Win Crosstown Showdown To Stay In Playoff Hunt

In its three District 10-4A football games, McKinney North has completely flipped the script from last year’s district run.

The Dawgs defeated Wylie East at home in 2010 but lost to the Raiders on the road three weeks ago. After the loss, the Bulldogs rebounded with an emotional victory over a Richardson Pearce team that beat them in a tight ballgame last fall. North headed to Rockwall-Heath last Friday night and lost in a blowout to the undefeated Hawks, who lost five district games last year, including defeats at the hands of North and McKinney High.

Three games into district play, head coach Mike Fecci has taken notice of his team’s rather interesting, reverse win-loss trend and has reminded his players that they need a win this Friday in order for them to stay in the playoff hunt.

“We’ve got to stop that trend,” he said.

In what was the second closest game in Crosstown Showdown history, McKinney North defeated McKinney High 14-7 last October, ending the Lions’ two-year reign as rivalry game trophy-holders. The Bulldogs are currently 1-2 in district play so in order for them to stay in the playoff race, they will need to pull together and repeat as winners of the annual Crosstown Showdown game this Friday at Ron Poe Stadium.

“Their backs are against the wall,” Fecci said of the winless Lions. “They’re going to play with a lot of passion, energy and heart. We’ve got to be able to match those things.”

Last week, the Lions hosted a tough Rockwall team and fell behind early by two scores. Just when it looked like MHS was down and out, the Lions clawed their way back into the game and had a chance to win late in the fourth quarter before eventually falling to the Yellowjackets. The Lions may be 0-6 so far this season but Fecci knows that Jeff Smith’s team is loaded with ultra-talented playmakers. Even more than the Lions’ explosive talent, Fecci has been impressed by McKinney High’s heart and determination and cited last week’s homecoming loss as a prime example of how tough of an opponent MHS will be this week.

“I have a lot of respect for Jeff Smith and the way that he runs this program,” Fecci said. “They got down quick early but kept playing and made it into a pretty interesting ballgame.”

McKinney High rushed for 465 yards versus the Yellowjackets and, after trailing by 15 points, managed to narrow the Rockwall lead to just 24-22 with 10 minutes in regulation. The Jackets were finally able to secure the win on a 6-yard touchdown run from quarterback David Wesley with less than two minutes left on the clock.

The most impressive thing about MHS’ homecoming night rally was that the Lions managed to make it a close game without starting quarterback Robert Somborn. If taking the field without their junior gunslinger wasn’t difficult enough, the Lions also lost backup QB Brooks Johnston in the second quarter due to a concussion that took place on a 64-yard run by Johnston. This Friday night, Somborn will return to the lineup for McKinney High and Fecci knows that his defensive players have a tall order ahead of them this week.

“We expect Somborn to be back and that guy’s a phenomenal talent. It’s going to be a heck of a fight.”

Friday night will not only mark the return of Somborn to the MHS lineup but it may very well be the night North fans get to see senior running back Devin Smith make his long-awaited return to the backfield for the Bulldogs. Smith entered the varsity as a sophomore and led the team in rushing for back-to-back seasons before suffering a knee injury in spring football that has kept him out action for more than half of the 2011 season.

“Devin’s one of those kids that has been at ever drill and every meeting,” Fecci said. “He’s stayed connected to the team and he’ll hopefully get an opportunity to play this Friday. He’s looked really good the last couple of weeks. He’s chomping at the bit.”

McKinney North hosts McKinney High in the eighth annual Crosstown Showdown game Friday night at Ron Poe Stadium.

-Joe Arriola,

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