By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
1. Do you feel the excitement in the air? That, my sports friends, means that it is playoff time in high school volleyball, team tennis, and cross country. And it just a matter of weeks, football will join the postseason fray to really get the fun going. With so many sports to cover and with so little time to do it, let’s get this thing going.
2. On this week’s episode of ‘The Sports Bar’ on Buzz TV, I sat down with McKinney North tennis coach Jon Stein to discuss everything from his team’s recent district championship to how he got interested in tennis as a kid, (if you have not seen the video, click here). The Bulldogs are fresh off of the program’s eighth team tennis district championship, defeating the Lovejoy Leopards 10-6 last Wednesday afternoon. North finished the season 20-5 and is currently ranked 11th in the state in team tennis heading into the Region II 4A tournament this Friday and Saturday.
3. For Stein, who has been the head coach of the tennis program since the school opened in 2001, this will be his program’s 10th trip to the regional tournament. The Bulldogs have never lost in the first round at regionals, and that trend should continue this weekend as North is expected to be a top-three seed in the bracket.
When asked about how his team was able to make it to the District 13-4A finals and revenge their earlier loss to Lovejoy, Stein discussed his team having to overcome the weight of the program’s illustrious tradition. “We opened with Greenville in the first round, and then advanced on to face Sherman in the semi-finals,” said Stein. “Sherman was a team that had a lot of seniors and a lot of boys that had experience, so it was nerve-racking. But I thought once our kids got through that match they kind of relaxed a bit. Lovejoy beat us pretty handedly in round robin 11-8, but I think there were some lineup things that I had wrong and some doubles setups that I had wrong.
“I think our kids played out of fear; sometimes that tradition becomes heavy when they are trying to grasp it, and you have a lot of kids that grasp onto something that isn’t really theirs yet. This was a brand new district with only a few teams from last year, so it was kind of a new mix and we were kind of intimidated at first. But by the end of the season we really got it going and we got the one that matters, which was the district finals.”
4. The defending boys singles state champion Jordan Hart leads the Bulldogs, a player that Stein refers to as a “tactician” on the court.
“He is very unflappable,” said Stein. “He is very patient and tennis intelligent. He understands the different angles and spins of the ball, and he is in great physical shape. And most of all, he just loves the game.”
Hart admitted that he has had some ups and downs this fall, but has not yet lost a match this season. When asked about defeating Lovejoy in the district final, Hart said his team was ready up to the challenge for one particular reason.
“It was awesome,” said Hart. “They seemed to have a little bit of arrogance when they came onto the court for the second time compared to the first match, so I think we were ready for the challenge.”
5. North will learn of its first round opponent when the coaches meet on Thursday evening. Stay tuned to TSB all weekend long for scores and updates from the Region II 4A Team Tennis tournament.
6. McKinney Boyd was the only MISD school to make the postseason this year in volleyball, as MHS and North finished below .500 in district play. The Lady Broncos held off a stingy McKinney Lionettes team on Tuesday night to complete a 9-1 District 10-5A season and win the district championship. Boyd will face Dallas Skyline in the bi-district round next Tuesday night at Richardson Berkner. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
7. When asked about how this year’s team is different from the squad that made it to the state championship last year, Boyd senior Megan Mollett talked about the increase in experience being important in making sure the Lady Broncos win that final game this year.
“This team has more seniors with experience,” said Mollett. “Since we went to state, we know what it takes to get there. That makes it easier to pump up to underclassmen.”
8. The Lady Broncos have seven seniors and one junior on the roster that was apart of last year’s team. Boyd has its eye on winning that final game this year, but must get by a Skyline team in the first round that won’t be underestimated by the veteran Lady Broncos.
“We have played them the passed three years in the first round of playoffs and have won pretty well,” Mollett said, “but we definitely will go into the game not underestimating them.”
9. For those who want to check out a little cross country action, MHS, North, and Boyd will all be competing at Myers Park on Thursday morning in the District 10-5A and 13-4A meets. The 10-5A meet begins at 8 a.m., while North will compete in the 13-4A meet immediately after. TSB will have both meet results posted on the site as soon as they are posted and finalized.
10. The premier high school football game in the DFW area this week will take place at Ron Poe Stadium on Friday night between the Allen Eagles and the McKinney Boyd Broncos. Both teams are 2-0 in District 10-5A while Allen jumped Southlake Carroll this week in the AP High School Texas football poll to No. 7. There are so many stats about this matchup that make it so intriguing. Boyd and Allen are No. 1 and 2 in rushing yards per game in District 10-5A, respectively, and are in the top-10 in the 5A area at No. 6 and 8 respectively. On the other hand, Allen and Boyd are the No. 5 and 6, respectively, in the district in passing yards per game at 136.9 YPG for the Eagles and 96.4 YPG for the Broncos.
11. Despite the fact that Allen is 19th and Boyd is tied for 29th in the 5A area in total offense, the Eagles score 40.9 PPG while the Broncos average just 30.4 PPG. However, the difference in the game will come down to the defenses, and boy does Allen have a good one. The Eagles are first in District 10-5A in total defense, allowing just 313.4 YPG. They are also fourth in the area in scoring defense, allowing just 15.1 PPG. Meanwhile the Broncos are allowing 361.3 YPG and over 200 YPG on the ground. Only Plano West and Plano East have given up more rushing yards and both teams are 0-2 in district play.
12. The winner of Friday’s contest will clinch a playoff spot and take the steering wheel in winning the district championship in November. Allen will be a heavy favorite versus Boyd, and there is no doubt that the Broncos need to play a perfect game in all three phases of the game in order to pull off the upset. Running back Bryan Driskell will need his offensive line to open him up some holes to run through, and when head coach Don Drake puts the ball in quarterback Curtis Ladd’s hands, he will need to make some big throws on third down to keep drives going. It is hard to pick against Allen and that stout defense, but I am going with the upset and taking the Broncos to win 28-27 on a Driskell rushing touchdown in the final minute of the game.
13. If you can’t make it out to Ron Poe to enjoy this tasty matchup, KLAK 97.5 will be broadcasting the game live. Also, TXA-21 will show the game tape-delayed at 10:30 on Friday night.
14. MHS will virtually eliminate Plano West with a 35-28 win on the road, and North keeps their playoff hopes alive with a 35-13 drubbing at Greenville.
15. Since I am in the spirit of predicting outcomes, give me the Detroit Tigers over the San Francisco Giants in six games.
16. I can neither confirm nor deny this rumor, but I have heard the TSB network may have struck a deal with ‘The Sports Bruu Podcast’ for a second season. Further details will be given when available.
17. These are busy, busy times in the local sports scene. Good thing you can keep it locked on TSB for all of the scores and news from all of your favorite local high school sports! Until next time, ladies and gentlemen.