Three months ago, I wrote that if the McKinney North Bulldogs were able to put themselves in position to make the playoffs, they would do what they could not do in 2010 and punch their ticket to the postseason for the first time in five years.
Well, here we are just two weeks away from the end of the regular season and the Bulldogs are set to host Rockwall this Friday in a battle of two school’s vying for the fourth and final playoff spot in District 10-4A.
“They’re so well coached,” North head football coach Mike Fecci said of the Yellowjackets. “And they’re very physical, which we’ve seen before.”
With playoff implications on the line Friday night, Fecci admitted that he’s glad this week’s huge contest will be held at Ron Poe Stadium.
“I think our kids play better at home than they do on the road,” he said.
Last year, North lost 16-14 at Rockwall’s Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium in a game that could have put the Bulldogs into the postseason. The Jackets, who finished the district season on a four-game winning streak, went on to lose in the bi-district round to Carrollton Newman Smith.
In their 2010 season finale, the Dawgs traveled to Wylie for a must-win game. Any hopes North had of reaching the postseason were dashed almost immediately when the Pirates took a 20-0 lead after the first quarter of play and held a 33-7 advantage at halftime.
With Wylie well out of the district race this season, the Bulldogs must take care of business on Friday versus Rockwall in order to join Highland Park, Rockwall-Heath, and Wylie East in the playoffs.
“We control our own destiny,” Fecci said. “We don’t need help from anybody else. And we’re excited about it.”
In last week’s 31-0 loss at Highland Park, the Dawgs’ defense was the highlight of the night with three interception on Scots quarterback Brady Burgin, who threw just two picks heading into last week’s game.
“I was real proud of our defense,” Fecci said. “We played well enough to win on defense. But on the flip side, we didn’t take care of the football offensively. To beat good quality programs, you have to take care of the ball yourself and cause turnovers.”
If the Dawgs’ defense hopes to have the same success in the turnover department versus Rockwall, it will have to contend with dual-threat quarterback Wes Davis, who leads the team in both rushing and passing.
“They have a neat little scheme for [Davis],” Fecci said. “They find what you’re good at and what you’re not good at and try to exploit those things.”
Against McKinney High, Davis carried the ball 23 times for 194 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 1:49 in regulation.
North This Week
Who: McKinney North vs. Rockwall
When: Friday 7:30 p.m.
Where: Ron Poe Stadium
About the Opponent: Rockwall has dropped its last two games after defeating MHS at Ron Poe Stadium three weeks ago.
Passing: Wes Davis 101-of-172 passing for 1,400 yards, 9 TDs, and 8 INT.
Rushing: Wes Davis 124 carries for 547 yards and 7 TDs, Alex Ntchobo 49 carries for 365 yards and 1 TD, Chris Minor 41 carries for 201 yards and 2 TDs.
Receiving: Coan Calabrese 19 rec for 457 yards and 4 TDs, Zach Berryman 25 rec for 306 yards and 2 TDs, Dylan Campman 18 rec for 246 for 1 TD.
Rockwall High Season Recap
Garland Naaman Forest 21 vs. Rockwall 13
Rowlett 34 vs. Rockwall 14
Rockwall 21 vs. Royse City 10
Highland Park 56 vs. Rockwall 31
Rockwall 28 vs. Wylie 14
Rockwall 31 vs. McKinney 22
Rockwall-Heath 21 vs. Rockwall 13
Wylie East 42 vs. Rockwall 14
I haven’t seen McKinney North play live since week two versus Dallas Bryan Adams so I’m basing this pick mainly on what I saw from Rockwall three weeks ago versus MHS. The Jackets are a very good team with a dangerous running game and a defense that can make a big play when needed. On the flip side, they had a hard time closing out the Lions and walked away with a 9-point victory in a game they could have won by 30. No team in the district wants to make the playoffs more than the Bulldogs and this is their opportunity. I don’t see them dropping the ball Friday night. Also, McKinney North is on a rather interesting loss-win-loss-win-loss pattern in the district season. According to said pattern, it’s their week to win.
McKinney North 34, Rockwall 28
At least twice at every home football game, the song ‘All I Do Is Win’ by DJ Khaled can be heard blasting from the McKinney High student section. Unfortunately, 2011 will be known as the year the Lions did everything but win.
With games at Highland Park and Wylie East remaining on their schedule, it’s safe to say that the 2011 McKinney Lions are destined to become the school’s first-ever 0-10 football team. After last Friday’s heartbreaking 38-37 loss to Richardson Pearce, MHS slipped to 0-8 overall and 0-5 in district play.
Currently, the Scots are undefeated at 8-0 with a perfect 5-0 mark in 10-4A, including a shutout win over McKinney North last week. This Friday, MHS travels to Wylie East to face a Raiders team that has just one blemish on its record, a 58-30 loss at Highland Park on Sept. 30.
Even the most loyal McKinney High fan knows the Lions are doomed to go winless this season. The Richardson Pearce Mustangs were the best chance MHS had to walk away from this fall with at least one win under its belt. But on senior night, Corey Coleman and company pulled off a dramatic win that left the home crowd at Ron Poe Stadium speechless.
I’ve witnessed and been a part of some of the most heartbreaking losses McKinney High has experienced in recent years. I was standing on the sidelines in my JV uniform when the 2004 Lions made an epic 8-2 regular season run only to fall flat in the bi-district playoff game versus Dallas Hillcrest. The following year, I sat by my radio and listened to a KLAK broadcast of the Lions’ 14-13 loss versus heated crosstown rival McKinney North. In 2006, I was named co-captain of the week for a district game at The Colony, which ended on a miracle game-winning pass at the buzzer that put the Cougars ahead for the win. The next year marked beginning of the Zach Lee-Matt Lipka era and that three-year period will be remembered for record-breaking offensive statistics and heartbreaking losses. In back-to-back playoff seasons, the Lions fell in the bi-district round to the hated Highland Park Scots. In 2010, Jeff Smith took over as head football coach and although the Lions failed to make the playoffs, their season ended in an all too familiar defeat at the hands of Highland Park.
The games and moments I just mentioned are only a few of the low moments McKinney High has experienced in the last seven years. As devastating as all of those losses were for Lions fans, I’m not sure if any defeat was harder to swallow than the one that took place at Ron Poe Stadium last Friday. The Lions are a much better football team than their record indicates but when it comes down to the clutch, they just can’t stay in the game. Or in the case of last week’s contest – close the game.
With their fate sealed, the Lions are now in the position of playing for pride. I’ve watched McKinney High play with intensity and passion all season long so it will be interesting to see how this team responds to its greatest adversity yet.
MHS This Week
Who: McKinney High (0-8, 0-5) vs. Wylie East (7-1, 4-1)
When: Friday 7:30 p.m.
Where: Wylie Stadium
About the Opponent: The Raiders crushed their crosstown rival Wylie High, 63-7
Wylie East Leaders
Passing: Garrett McCain 132-of-212 for 1,669 yards, 17 TDs, 2 INT.
Rushing: Jabari Anderson 167 carries for 1,618 yards and 22 TDs, Kevon Mack 102 carries for 704 yards and 6 TDs.
Receiving: Marcell Ateman 52 rec for 806 yards and 7 TDs, Quan Jones 33 rec for 306 yards and 3 TDs, Jesse Brubaker 22 rec for 262 yards and 3 TDs.
Wylie East Season Recap
Wylie East 45 vs. North Forney 27
Wylie East 36 vs. Frisco Heritage 29
Trophy Club Byron Nelson 21 vs. Wylie East 52
McKinney North 31 vs. Wylie East 35
Wylie East 30 vs. Highland Park 58
Wylie East 40 vs. Richardson Pearce 21
Wylie 7 vs. Wylie East 63
Wylie East 42 vs. Rockwall 14
MHS has had issues with hanging onto a lead in its last two games. This week, Jeff Smith’s team won’t have to worry about blowing a big lead because they won’t have one. Since losing to Highland Park (58-30), the Wylie East Raiders have been on a tear, with blowout wins over Richardson Pearce (40-21), Wylie (63-7), and at Rockwall (42-14).
Wylie East 54, McKinney High 28
The Broncos embarrassed Rowlett at Ron Poe Stadium last year, so with both teams heading into this week with matching 4-1 district records, the Eagles will no doubt be looking to return the favor. McKinney Boyd hasn’t faced a truly tough opponent since their home game versus District 10-5A’s No. 1 team, Garland High. This Friday, the Broncos travel to H.B. Johnson Stadium for the second time this season to face a Rowlett team that holds big wins over Naaman Forest (38-7), North Garland (42-10), Sachse (49-42), and South Garland (38-30).
“It’s going to be tough,” Boyd head football coach Don Drake said. “They’re a good football team. It’s their senior night and they’re playing for playoff position too.”
A victory this week will put McKinney Boyd in the playoffs as the No. 2 team out of District 10-5A. The Broncos have been on a hot streak since dropping a home game to the Garland Owls and Drake said his players must continue to get better as the regular season comes to a close.
“I think great teams play great late in the year so we’ve got to turn it up another notch versus Rowlett and walk off that field with a victory to get into the playoffs.”
Offensively, the Eagles feature a dual-quarterback system with starter Grant Bothun and Colton Kalmus, who rotates into the game about every third series. In the backfield, Rowlett is led by No. 3 rusher in the district, Jalen Rhodes. In his junior year, Rhodes is just 60 yards away from the 1,000-yard mark and has rushed for 11 touchdowns and caught one touchdown pass.
“I’ve been very impressed with their running back,” Drake said. “He’s a very fast kid and if you give him a chance he can hurt you.”
Boyd This Week
Who: McKinney Boyd (6-2, 4-1) vs. Rowlett (5-3, 4-1)
When: Thursday 7 p.m.
Where: Garland’s H.B. Johnson Stadium
About the Opponent: Like Boyd, Rowlett’s lone district loss came at the hands of the Garland Owls.
Passing: Grant Bothun 83-of-133 for 950 yards, 12 TDs, and 3 INT, Coltun Kalmus 19of-28 for 223 yards and 2 TDs.
Rushing: Jalen Rhodes 135 carries for 936 yards and 10 TDs, Grant Bothun 74 carries for 321 yards and 6 TDs.
Receiving: Rashidi Turner 31 rec for 393 yards and 5 TDs, Corey Chappell 29 rec for 316 yards and 1 TD.
Rowlett High Season Recap
North Mesquite 41 vs. Rowlett 14
Rowlett 34 vs. Rockwall 14
Wylie 30 vs. Rowlett 27
Naaman Forest 7 vs. Rowlett 38
Rowlett 49 vs. Sachse 42
South Garland 30 vs. Rowlett 38
Rowlett 21 vs. Garland 31
North Garland 10 vs. Rowlett 42
Rowlett is a good football team but, just like we saw last season, the Broncos are peaking late in the season again. It doesn’t matter that this game is on the road or that it’s Rowlett’s senior night. This game will be dominated for all four quarters by the Broncos and they will be playoff bound for the second straight season. I look forward to seeing Boyd football make a lot more noise in the postseason this November.
McKinney Boyd 44, Rowlett 24
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com