It finally happened.
For the first time ever, we have two McKinney ISD varsity football teams in the UIL playoffs. I’ll go ahead and take credit for predicting this would happen several weeks before the start of the season. What I cannot take credit for, however, is the way the 2011 season played out for our local football programs.
I still remember walking back to my car during halftime of last year’s McKinney North season finale at Wylie Stadium. It was sad to see a team believe in itself so much only to fall so badly in the final game and miss out on the playoffs. After two quarters of action, the Pirates had run the Bulldogs into the ground with no hope of recovery. Meanwhile, at Ron Poe Stadium the Lions were making a game of their final contest of 2010 versus district champion Highland Park.
Rather than continue to watch the Dawgs get demolished by Nico Ramirez and Co. I decided to head back home and watch MHS close out the year with a gutsy final performance. Like the Bulldogs, the Lions would also fall short of the playoffs.
I missed most of McKinney North’s football games this season and that’s very unfortunate because it’s been one heck of a ride for the fans at that school. If you’ve had the privilege of watching this team’s journey in 2011, I hope you appreciate the hard work and dedication those players have displayed on the field this fall.
Last Friday, McKinney North hosted Wylie in a winner-take-all game at Ron Poe Stadium. Sure, the Pirates still needed outside help to clinch a spot in the playoffs. It’s also true that Wylie football hasn’t been as great this season as in past years. But that doesn’t erase the impact of the Bulldogs’ victory in my mind. Wylie is still a storied program with solid coaching, a diehard fan base, and players who know how to win because, quite frankly, they’re used to it. Just one year ago, the Dawgs were watching their season slip away after one quarter. Then on Friday night, in front of a packed home crowd, the Bulldogs were going the distance with the Pirates and eventually came out on top in an 11-7 defensive battle.
Frisco Centennial is a great football team. The Titans are undefeated in 2011 for a reason and hold big wins over Frisco Wakeland (17-15), The Colony (21-0), and longtime rival – and newly improved – Frisco High (29-22).
If the Bulldogs walk away from Clark Stadium Friday night with a victory it will go down as the program’s biggest win since defeating Dallas Hillcrest in its first-ever bi-district playoff game back in 2005.
It’s no surprise McKinney North is the underdog heading into this week’s playoff game and I have a feeling the Bulldogs wouldn’t have it any other way. This is a group of players that has defied the odds all season long. The question is – do they have one last miracle left in them?
We’ll find out on Friday. Good luck, Bulldogs. And congratulations for all you’ve accomplished this season.
McKinney Boyd High School is set to play Dallas Skyline in the bi-district round of the playoffs this Friday night. The Broncos have been looking to bounce back from last year’s disappointing area round elimination at the hands of A&M Consolidated. If Boyd hopes to make any sort of run in the 2011 postseason, it will have to find a way to defeat the No. 23 ranked high school football team in the country.
“We’re going to come ready,” senior defensive end Jamal Palmer said.
According to Palmer, the Broncos have been hard at work in practice this week in preparation for this week’s showdown with the Raiders.
“The first one is a big one,” said Boyd’s all-time leading tackler.
Coming out of a shattering loss against Garland on Sept. 23, McKinney Boyd High School has been on a five-game winning spree that has won them a spot in the playoffs as the No. 2 team in District 10-5A.
““[The loss to Garland] gave us the drive to push a lot harder, and to work a lot harder,” junior cornerback Chris Stanton said.
““I can’t wait to get the chance to play, and beat Dallas Skyline.”
Senior defensive back Mason Werner also agreed that the Broncos have ‘stepped it up’ since losing a heartbreaking home game versus Garland High, that saw both QB Curtis Ladd and OL Trevor Hanes leave the game with injuries in the first quarter.
“We’re looking a lot better,” he said. “The team camaraderie is better.”
Junior Bryan Driskell is 50 yards shy of the 2,000-yard mark and has 30 touchdowns under his belt this season. The Broncos will need a big game from their leading scorer on Friday and Werner is confident that the running game will be clicking versus Skyline.
“Bryan is going to carry us,” he said. “Also, Curtis is going to carry us. And Jamal and the whole D will be good.”
Boyd made playoffs last season for the first time in Class 5A. The Broncos, who also claimed the district championship in 10-5A, expected their playoff run to last more than just two games but that’s exactly where it ended. In an area round game at Ennis High School, McKinney Boyd’s defense met its match in an A&M Consolidated’s rushing attack, which totaled almost 450 yards in a 42-23 victory. Since then, the Broncos have been working on improving their defense and Palmer believes the unit has made great strides since its last playoff run.
“We’re more aggressive,” he said. “We really came back, and came together as a defensive unit.”
With the first playoff game being against Dallas Skyline, a seemingly unstoppable force, the Broncos seem to be working harder and, most importantly, learning from their mistakes. As for Palmer and the rest of McKinney Boyd’s senior players, they may not have given their school its second straight district title but right in front of them is an opportunity to pull off a victory that will send shockwaves through the national and state football rankings.
“We want to make a big [run] and do something for Boyd,” Palmer said.
Back in June, I wrote an article called ‘5 Reasons the Lions Will Finish Above .500’. As I’m sure you all are aware, McKinney High’s season record ended up well below that prediction. For the first time in school history, the Lions finished with a winless mark and now we all have to ask ourselves where the team goes from here.
Personally, I don’t expect the Lions to finish at the bottom of the district next year with both Robert Somborn and Jonathon Shannon returning for their senior seasons. As I recall, Wylie East finished 0-10 in 2010 and bounced back with a stellar season that resulted in a victory over rival Wylie and a spot in the postseason.
Of course, we’ll have to wait for redistricting to see how MHS stacks up with its district competition but even after the new districts are announced I’m pretty sure I’ll still pick the Lions to be a contender. I could definitely see McKinney High turning things around in a big way next season.
The good thing is the Lions have nowhere to go but up. The bad news is they won’t have an opportunity to prove themselves until week one of the 2012 football season. Check TownSquareBuzz again soon for a highlight reel of McKinney High football in 2011.
Until next time, Lions fans.
-Story by Joe Arriola & TownSquareBuzz contributor Ian Fritz