Tuesday , 22 May 2018

Mike Bruu: How Each MISD Football Team Can Make (and Miss) the Playoffs

By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor

1. Hello sports fans. If you want a break from the political fiasco that has dominated this great city of ours, I invite you to join me in discussing a little high school football for a couple minutes. It is hard to believe that we are entering week six of the high school football season, and with just four games left to be played for MHS, Boyd, and North, the chase for a playoff spot really begins heating up now. 

2. I will give you one reason why each school will make the playoffs and one reason why each school won’t make the playoffs. There’s still a ton of football to be played from now until the second week of November, and one key injury to any team can change the course of an entire district’s playoff landscape, but here are some reasons why you could see all three or none of the teams in the postseason. Let’s start with McKinney North.

3. Reason why the Bulldogs will make the playoffs: They play in District 13-4A. No disrespect, but this is not one of the state’s toughest districts. Through three district games, this is what the standings look like:

Team District District Overall Overall Place
  Wins Losses Wins Losses  
Lovejoy 3 0 6 0 1
Sherman 3 0 5 1 2
Wylie East 2 1 4 2 3
Denison 1 2 1 5 4
North 1 2 1 5 4
Royse City 1 2 1 5 4
Wylie 1 2 1 5 4
Greenville 0 3 0 6 8

4. While no team is completly out of the running for a playoff spot, there appears to be two teams that are guranteed to secure one of the district’s four possible playoff berths. Lovejoy and Sherman both are 3-0 and are regarded as the two best teams in the district. Wylie East, who is currently in third place, has the best offense in the 4A area, averaging 498.2 yards per game. 

5. So why is North playing in District 13-4A a reason why the Bulldogs will make the playoffs? Because if they can finish 3-1 over their last four games, with wins over Wylie, Greenville and Denison, the Bulldogs will finish 4-3 in district play and would likely be the fourth seed with a head-to-head victory over Wylie. Below is the remaining games for each school and how North could make the playoffs, (Predicted outcome is in parentheses):

Lovejoy Remaining: @ Denison (W), vs. Sherman (L), @ Royse City (W), vs. Wylie East (L)

Sherman Remaining: vs. Royse City (W), @ Lovejoy (W), vs. Wylie (W), @ Greenville (W)

Wylie East Remaining: vs. Greenville (W), @ Royse City (W), vs. North (W), @ Lovejoy (W)

Denison Remaining: vs. Lovejoy (L), @ Wylie (L), vs. Greenville (W), @ North (L)

North Remaining: vs. Wylie (W), @ Greenville (W), @ Wylie East (L), vs. Denison (W)

Royse City Remaining: @ Sherman (L), vs. Wylie East (L), vs. Lovejoy (L), @ Wylie (L)

Wylie Remaining: @ North (L), vs. Denison (W), @ Sherman (L), vs. Royse City (W)

Greenville Remaining: @ Wylie East (L), vs. North (L), @ Denison (L), vs. Sherman (L)

6. Based on these predicted outcomes, here would be the final standings in District 13-4A:

Team District District Overall Overall Place
  Wins Losses Wins  Losses  
Sherman 7 0 9 1 1
Wylie East 6 1 7 3 2
Lovejoy 5 2 8 2 3
North 4 3 4 6 4
Wylie 3 4 3 7 5
Denison 2 5 2 8 6
Royse City 1 6 1 9 7
Greenville 0 7 0 10 8

7. The Bulldogs would make the postseason as the fourth seed out of District 13-4A with a 3-1 finish down the stretch. However, the biggest game of their entire season has to be Friday night at Ron Poe Stadium versus Wylie. Both teams desperately want that head-to-head advantage over one another, and a Bulldog loss could make it nearly impossible for them to make it into the playoffs without getting some help down the stretch. If you want a game of the year in October, you got one at Ron Poe this Friday night.

8. Reason why the Bulldogs won’t make the playoffs: A loss this Friday night versus Wylie. I know I just touched on this game and I am aware that the season is not over if the Bulldogs come up short this week, but the road becomes much more difficult than they would like it to be. A loss would mean they would have to upset Wylie East on the road on their way to winning their final three games, and hope that Wylie would lose two of their last three games. Of course, Denison is a possible school to stay in the mix for the rest of the season, but the final playoff spot is likely going to go to the winner of Friday night’s game.

9. Reason why the McKinney Boyd Broncos will make the playoffs: Running back Bryan Driskell. When you have a running back that averages 186 rushing yards per game and can be a threat in special teams, you have a workhorse that can carry you into the playoffs. Driskell has 1,116 rushing yards through six games and has 15 total touchdowns this season, including a kickoff and a punt return for a score. Next to Plano East quarterback Mario Smalls, who is out with a broken fibula and whose team lost 56-0 to Allen without him, there may not be a more important player to their team’s ability to win games than Driskell. He is the reason why Boyd has the second ranked rushing attack in District 10-5A and why the Broncos were able to dominate Plano West last Friday night in their 55-28 victory. 

10. The style of offense that the Broncos run is pretty simple: run the ball aggresively and play-action pass off of it. In terms of passing defenses in the district, only Plano West is missing from the 5A area top-40 in passing yards allowed per game. However, here are the rankings in rushing defense in District 10-5A, (Top-40 in 5A area rank in parentheses):

Rank School 5A Area Top-40 Rank Rush YPG
1 Allen 18 171.7
2 Plano 25 184.7
3 MHS 32 200.8
4 Boyd Unranked 218.2
5 Plano West Unranked 225.6
6 Plano East Unranked 271.6

11. While the Broncos allow the fourth most rushing yards per game, 80 percent of the district allows the average number of yards Driskell runs for per game. If Boyd quarterback Curtis Ladd has any success throwing the football down the field off play-action, the Broncos are a dangerous team to face down the stretch.

12. Reason why the Broncos won’t make the playoffs: The offense. I know this seems like a total contradiction to what I just said, but hear me out. The Broncos rank last in the district in passing yards per game with 104. Ladd is not asked to throw the ball around the field a whole lot, as he has been held to less than 100 yards passing in three of the six games this season and averages just 16 passing attempts per game. Yes, the rushing defenses in the district aren’t statistically great, but the Broncos have already faced the fifth ranked rush defense in Plano West and will face the last ranked rush defense in three weeks at Plano East. However, the Broncos other three games remaining, (at Plano, vs. Allen, vs. MHS) are all against teams in the top-40 in the 5A area.

Date Opponent 5A Area Top-40 Rank YPG
October 19 at Plano 25 184.7
October 26 vs. Allen 18 171.7
November 9 vs. MHS 32 200.8

13. If these defenses have success in loading the box with seven, eight, and sometimes nine players to stop Driskell and the Boyd rushing attack, Ladd could be forced to throw the ball more than he would like to in a game. If this happens, the Broncos will miss out on the playoffs by a single game.

14. Reason why the MHS Lions will make the playoffs: Their No. 4 ranked offense in the 5A area. Quarterback Robert Somborn has lit it up in his senior season, completing 64 percent of his passes and throwing for 1657 yards and 21 touchdowns through six games. The Lions are also the only 5A area school to have three receivers in the top-40 in receiving yards, as Connor Fuentes is fifth with 604 yards, Red Shannon is 18th with 492 yards, and T.V. Williams is 19th with 489 yards. MHS is the top-ranked offense in District 10-5A, averaging 486.5 YPG, and with Plano East losing its starting quarterback for the season, the Lions have the best quarterback in the district. Below are the passing yards per game in the district, (5A area top-40 rank in parentheses):

Rank School 5A Area Top-40 Rank Passing YPG
1 MHS 4 287.7
2 Plano East 10 234.6
3 Plano West 14 204.8
4 Plano 23 181.2
5 Allen Unranked 113.0
6 Boyd Unranked 104.0

15. Reason why the Lions won’t make the playoffs: Lack of 5A experience. All five schools have some knowledge of one another from being in a similar district in the recent past. McKinney is the new kid on the block. While this can work in the Lions favor in terms of teams not knowing your tendencies or exactly what you are as a football team, 5A football in Texas is a different kind of monster when you account for the bigger stadiums, the larger roster sizes, and the environments in which you play. MHS was predicted to finish 0-10 heading into the season, and heading into week six the Lions sit at 4-2 and are tied for second place in District 10-5A at 0-1. This is a dangerous team to face, but lack of 5A experience could leave the Lions on the outside looking in.

16. TSB has two “Game of the Weeks” in two days, starting with Thursday night’s matchup between MHS and Plano East at Ron Poe Stadium. The Lions will play their homecoming game and look to even up their district record to 1-1. Kick off is set for 7 p.m. On Friday night, the McKinney North Bulldogs host the Wylie Pirates at Ron Poe. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m. in this huge District 13-4A game. 

17. With just four weeks left in the regular season, I invite you all to come out to Ron Poe Stadium every Friday night and just enjoy some of the great football that is being played in McKinney right now. Having three teams that are highly competitive in one city is pretty rare, so if you want to watch a little Friday night lights, you have four weeks of regular season ball to do so. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen.

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