By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
1. Happy Friday everyone! With all the excitement of National Signing Day on Wednesday, I decided to push my start back one day and take the hill on a Friday, something I rarely get the chance to do. I must admit it feels pretty good having the chance to be part of the Friday fun on TSB. It is always a good thing to get the weekend started with a little sports talk, so let’s get right down to it.
2. Earlier this week I wrote a story about two McKinney High school football players who were selected to play in the inaugural U-18 International Bowl between the U.S.A and Canada (click here for the story.) Receiver T.V. Williams and offensive lineman David Tachie both started in Wednesday night’s game in Austin, with Williams catching one pass for 15 yards as the United States of America scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to defeat our northern neighbors, 29-14.
While I discussed the all-star games primarily in my interviews with both kids, I also had a couple questions about the end of the Lions football season last fall and what their expectations were during offseason workouts.
“These summer workouts will really bring us together,” said Tachie. “It will determine if we get to where we need to be if everyone shows up and is ready to work. We all have to do it together and not individually.”
After starting off the 2012 season 4-1, the Lions lost four of their final five games to finish .500 and miss the playoffs by one game. But as National Signing Day saw the team’s three best offensive playmakers sign to play college ball, it definitely made both players realize how different next year will be.
“I think with us losing as many key seniors as we did, with the quarterback and a lot of key receivers, I think we have to work on our trust,” said Williams.
With quarterback Robert Somborn signing next Monday to play at Cornell University, running back Red Shannon signing with San Angelo State, and receiver Connor Fuentes inking his intent with Southeastern Oklahoma University (both Shannon and Fuentes signed on Wednesday), the Lions are losing two skilled position players who accounted for 24 of the team’s 45 touchdowns last season and a quarterback who finished in the top-five in passing yards and touchdown passes in the 5A area.
“I know we lost a lot of talent but I also feel like we have a lot of underclassmen that are returning starters that are ready to work and get to where we need to be,” said Tachie. “We can achieve anything if we keep working.”
Tachie and Williams aren’t considered underclassmen, as both will be entering their senior seasons next fall, but both players have been on the varsity roster since their sophomore seasons and will be called on by head coach Jeff Smith to play a prominent role in the leadership department.
So what did the Lions learn from such a bounce back season last year after the expectations were minimal for a program coming off a 0-10 season the year before?
“It definitely showed us that you could always shock anybody with what you do if you work hard,” said Tachie. “Ultimately we didn’t get to where we wanted to be but that’s just fuel and motivation for next year.”
3. Quote of the entire sit down came from the very personable T.V. Williams: “(During) the 0-10 season, you would be walking in the halls and the principals would look at you and just mean mug you the whole way down the hall. You almost didn’t want to wear your letterman jacket it was so bad. But this year I was getting pulled out of the hallways by assistant principals and they would ask me ‘what class are you going to?’ and I would tell them English class or something, and they would tell me they would write a pass for being late and just want to talk football for like five minutes. It was crazy man. I’ve never felt our student body like that before either. It was unreal.”
4. Want a couple fun National Signing Day facts? How about this:
On Wednesday 16 kids took part in ceremonies at the three high schools in McKinney, which included two Mustangs, a Wildcat, two Rams, two Falcons, one Eagle, one Tiger, one Bear, one Bulldog, a Bison, one Golden Hurricane, one Bleu Devil, a Lumberjack, and one Savage Storm. I love college mascots so much.
Seven different states will have a 2013 MISD student-athlete graduate next fall: Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Arkansas, Alabama, and Missouri.
In all seriousness, congrats to every athlete that signed his or her national letter of intent on Wednesday afternoon. I know that the day is mostly about football from the national media standpoint, but every sport that was able to have a player continue their careers in college deserves to be honored.
5. Tuesday night’s crosstown showdown games on the hardwood did not disappoint, as the Lionettes knocked off the Lady Broncos 49-43 to claim the final playoff spot in 10-5A, while Boyd got revenge on the boys side as the Broncos defeated the Lions 61-45.
With the Lionettes win, McKinney forced a third-place game with Plano East tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Wylie. While both teams will play again next week in the bi-district round, the winner of the game avoids No. 17 Dallas Skyline in the opening game, and instead would play Richardson.
In the Lionettes’ two meetings this season with the Lady Panthers, the teams split the series 1-1 with the home team losing both games. The key for McKinney in winning on Friday night will be getting its two offensive players going early in the game. Mariah Mitchell and Jazsmin Nelson combined for 34 points in the win over Boyd, with Nelson scoring the Lionettes first 11 points of the game. When Mitchell scored more than 20 points in a district game, McKinney is 4-1. The lone loss was a 21-point defeat at Plano West, a top-10 team in the state.
The other key for McKinney will be winning the third quarter. In the teams two meetings this season, Plano East outscored the Lionettes 37-22 in the third quarter while the Lady Panthers were outscored 77-63 in the other three quarters.
6. What were you doing on Nov. 29, 2012? The No. 1 song in the country was Rihanna’s Diamonds, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 was the No. 1 movie in the country, and the Atlanta Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints 23-13 at home in a week 13 matchup.
It was also the last day the McKinney North Lady Bulldog basketball team lost a game, as Frisco Liberty defeated North 43-38 in the Collin County Roundball Classic. Since then the Lady Bulldogs have won 23 consecutive games, finishing 14-0 in District 13-4A. North is No. 8 in the TABC rankings this week, while pesky Frisco Liberty is No. 12 after finishing the regular season 30-5.
North will play Longview Pine Tree at Van High School on Monday night in the bi-district round game.
7. The 2013 Grammy’s will be on Sunday night, and I thought it would be a good moment to do some predictions on who will win the big awards.
Album of the Year: Channel Orange – Frank Ocean. I think El Camino by The Black Keys will take the win, but I am rooting for the Odd Future singer to take the big award of the night. It is a fantastic album that defined an awkward era of R&B in this country.
Record of the Year: Lonely Boys – The Black Keys. All I hope is Taylor Swift doesn’t win the award, and this is from a guy that usually enjoys her stuff.
Song of the Year: We Are Young – Fun. When Call Me Maybe makes the cut, you know it was a down year for music. We Are Young was a resounding hit across many different listeners this past year, and Fun. has definitely become a household name almost overnight.
Best New Artist: Frank Ocean. This is an incredibly tough field to choose from, as I can make the case for the Alabama Shakes, Fun., and The Lumineers all taking the award. Give me Ocean as a slight underdog as I believe the Alabama Shakes are the favorite in the clubhouse.
Best Rock Album: El Camino – The Black Keys. It will win this award for sure. Lock it in.
Best Rap Album: Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1 – Lupe Fiasco. Perhaps the recent events from Lupe Fiasco will skew the vote away from him, but no one can deny the sheer brilliance of this album. You know President Obama is rooting for Drake or 2 Chainz to take this one over Lupe.
8. I think that concludes my time for this week folks. Enjoy the football-less weekend and make sure you get those baseball jerseys out of the closet and in the wash to be cleaned. You know why? Pitchers and catchers are reporting. I love being a baseball nerd. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen.