Welcome to this week’s sports column in which I take a look at the fall football predictions in the 2011 issue of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. This magazine has been dubbed “The Bible of Texas Football” and I remember picking it up when I was a player and every year since I became a sports reporter.
If you’re not familiar with the magazine, one of the things it does is predict the outcomes of every high school football district in the state of Texas. Today I’ll take a look at where Texas Football has ranked the McKinney Boyd Broncos and decide if I agree or disagree with the prediction. I will state my own opinions and try to be as honest as I possibly can. I’m in no way bashing the magazine as I too am a fan of the summer issue and purchase it every year.
Let’s get started.
District 10-5A Predictions
2. McKinney Boyd
3. Garland Rowlett
4. South Garland
5. Garland Naaman Forest
6. Garland Sachse
7. North Garland
8. Garland Lakeview Centennial
Offensive MVP: Bryan Driskell
Defensive MVP: Jamal Palmer
Before I even purchased the magazine, I was approached by a Boyd fan who said, “Did you see they picked us second?” I had to see it for myself and sure enough when I flipped over to the District 10-5A page, the defending champions were picked to finish second in district behind the Garland Owls. Personally, I see the Broncos repeating as district champs but I certainly don’t think it’s outrageous that Dave Campbell’s has faith in tradition rich Garland. Now that McKinney Boyd is a marked team, the quest for a repeat will be a tough challenge to say the least. That’s not say that the Broncos aren’t up for the challenge but they certainly won’t have the advantage of being the surprise team in the district.
I have a lot of family in Garland and a few of my cousins donned those black and gold uniforms. One of them even played on the 2000 state championship team and was later named to the All-Time Garland team. So believe me when I tell you these fans are a proud breed. Although they beat the Broncos (21-14) in district play, they still lost the district to Boyd and that had to be a tough pill to swallow. There’s no doubt they have their sights set on the Broncos and that September 23 rematch so they can make an example of the defending champs.
Texas Football proclaimed District 10-5A as, “one of the toughest districts in the metroplex” and as far as I’m concerned all roads to the title go through Boyd. If it comes down to the Broncos and the Owls then that game will be decided at Ron Poe Stadium. I believe the game will be very close. Maybe not a final possession wins the game type of close but it will definitely come down to the fourth quarter and the winner will be the team that makes the fewest mistakes. My money is on the home team.
I also find it odd that Bryan Driskell and Jamal Palmer are predicted to take offensive and defensive MVP honors yet they’re not expected to lead their team to first place. To me, that says that Texas Football believes the Owls are simply a better team overall. Perhaps they see the Broncos as a team with one offensive workhorse and one defensive workhorse and a bunch of lesser talented players. Think about it. They have the two best athletes in the district. Shouldn’t that equal a first-place ranking? Apparently not. The fact is the Broncos lost a lot of good players last season but, at the same time, the program jumped up a notch after that district banner was raised. This won’t be the same team that stepped on the field last season. And that team was pretty good if memory serves me correctly. Everybody wants to be part of a winning program and now the city of McKinney has one in Class 5A. Like last season, the Broncos will have plenty of young talent making contributions while the veterans – who were the young guns last season – will lead the charge.
Let’s also not forget that the Broncos aren’t returning one offensive and one defensive starter. Driskell and Palmer may be heralded as the best players on the team and in the district but Boyd is returning four offensive and four defensive starters from 2010. Defensive, the Broncos are as good as I’ve ever seen on the high school level. When a defense is more exciting to watch than an offensive that’s saying something. Especially when you consider that Boyd’s offense is pretty explosive running and passing.
I’m not sure if anyone from the magazine was in attendance at the spring football game but if there was ever a team that was fired up and ready to play it was that group. But it’s like I stated earlier, I can’t blame Texas Football for picking Garland. Tradition says Garland is a safe bet to win the district year in and year out. I get that. But I also know a focused team when I see one. As I stated last week, McKinney Boyd wants to make a run at state this year and I believe those players understand the importance of locking up the top seed if they hope to be playing football in December.
Let’s face it, we’ve seen a lot of teams with potential crash and burn when it mattered the most. In 2004, McKinney High dropped down to Class 4A and took the area by storm with a swarming defense, very similar to that of 2010’s McKinney Boyd team. The Lions finished the season 8-3 and returned in 2005 with most of their key players on the field, including the fierce linebacker duo of J.D. Dowling and Brandon Ogletree. That team was projected to finish second-place in the district behind powerhouse Hebron and go on to make noise in the playoffs. None of that ever happened. Instead, the Lions lost in stunning fashion in their season opener, lost the second-ever Crosstown Showdown game to rival McKinney North, and finished the year 3-7.
In 2007, the McKinney North Bulldogs took the field following back-to-back playoff appearances with senior receiver and all-around playmaker David Douglas leading the charge. The Dawgs opened the year with five straight wins and all signs pointed to a third straight postseason berth. After starting the year 5-0, McKinney North finished the season with five straight losses and failed to make the playoffs.
It’s hard to say McKinney Boyd crashed and burned in 2008. After all, the Broncos went from a team that caught lightning in a bottle and went three-rounds deep in their second year to a program that was placed in one of the toughest 5A district in North Texas. So instead I’ll go back to my favorite example of wasted potential: the 2008-2009 McKinney Lions under head coach Bobby Reyes. What more can I say about those teams that hasn’t been said already? Some of the greatest athletes that McKinney ISD – and the state of Texas for that matter – has ever seen failed to win more than four games in a single season because of a coach that refused to coach defense. What a joke.
The McKinney Boyd team of 2011 will not fall into the same category as the teams I just mentioned. They’re not only more talented but they want it more than those teams. And that’s the key.
Second place? Try again. Boyd beats Garland and takes the district.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com
Check back tomorrow for my thoughts on the McKinney North Bulldogs. You won’t want to miss it.