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 North Bulldogs 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.
Let’s get started.
District 10-4A Predictions
1. Highland Park
5. McKinney North
6. Richardson Pearce
8. Wylie East
When asked why the North Bulldogs fell short of their playoff goal last season, head coach Mike Fecci said, “I think the biggest weakness we had was that we needed to find depth.”
McKinney North addressed this issue in the offseason and despite the highly publicized loss of their starting quarterback; the Dawgs appeared to make strides in the depth department during spring training.
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage facing the Bulldogs is that they will no longer be the team that sneaks up on the rest of the district competition. That may have worked in their favor last year but now everybody will be gunning for the Dawgs.
“There will be some people looking to see if we can come back and improve on what we did last year,” Fecci said.
Despite the pressure of actually having to live up to high expectations for the first time in four years, the Dawgs are approaching this fall with what their coach described as a “quiet confidence”. And that’s exactly what they’ll need. They failed to make the postseason last year so there’s no need to be over confident but they also accomplished a lot more than anyone thought they would so they earned the right to take the field with a little more swagger than usual.
When I saw the Texas Football rankings, I immediately knew there was no way I could agree with the placement of McKinney North or McKinney High. After all, I already predicted that one of our 4A schools would make the playoffs and neither of them are in the top four.
This district is tricky to predict this season. Of course you can always count on Highland Park to go 10-0 in the regular season and sweep District 10-4A but the remaining three spots are up for grabs as every team, including Wylie East, will have the athletes necessary to contend for a postseason berth. I would like to believe that if North got that close to making the playoffs for the second straight year that they would find a way to win a late season game and at least earn that fourth seed.
North’s advantage, of course, lies more with their team unity than their big name athletes. That’s not to say that they don’t have tremendous athletes because they do. What I’m saying is that last season they developed a reputation for playing and winning as a team. They were one of the most tight knit teams I’ve seen since I started covering high school sports in McKinney and I was rooting for them since day one because there was a certain likeability and charm around that program and those players.
The Bulldogs have six returning starters on offense and four returning on defense including linebacker Ed Garcia and wide receiver Sam Lucania. We’ll also get to see a backfield that includes senior Devin Smith and his younger brother, sophomore Trey Smith.
Texas Football magazine says, “This team has some question marks to answer, but it’s still got the talent to contend.” That’s pretty much how I would some up not only this team but several teams in 10-4A including McKinney High. In high school football, it all comes down to the quarterback position and we saw what the Dawgs were able to do with Brylen Williams in that starting role last season. Now he’s gone and Hunter Walling is in the drivers’ seat. I wouldn’t say all the pressure is on North’s senior quarterback but a lot of it is and I hope he’s up to the challenge.
I actually kind of like the placing of McKinney North on this list because I do think they will get close enough to contend but I’m not ready to predict a playoff run just yet. It’s likely they could finish fifth in the district but it’s also just as likely that they could accomplish what last year’s group couldn’t.
Yesterday, I predicted Boyd would finish first-place in its district but I’m not going to be nearly as bold with this one. I predict that McKinney North will have a shot at the postseason but, just like last year, will need a win over Wylie in the season finale to claim the fourth and final spot.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com
Check back tomorrow as I conclude this three-part series with my thoughts on Texas Football’s prediction for the McKinney High Lions.