By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer
When the UIL released its new districts for the 2012-13 school year, McKinney Boyd football saw some familiar faces surrounding them in District 10-5A. It was only three years ago that the Broncos resided in the same district with Allen, Plano, Plano West and Plano East.
In fact, the newest member to Class 5A competition, McKinney High, was one of Boyd’s four non-district opponents that season. In 2009, the year before they would leave to go to Garland’s district for two years, the Broncos finished 1-4 versus their new district mates, losing by an average score of 48-34.
Fortunately for the 2012 Boyd football squad, this is a much bigger, faster, and more improved team than the last time this program matched up against some of the “big boys” in Texas high school football. Following an 8-3 season a year ago that included a bi-district loss to Skyline, 31-8, the Broncos bring back five starters on the offense and six on defense.
“I’m excited about it,” said senior linebacker Adam Kimm. “My freshmen year was the only time I ever got to play them and I thought we played fairly well against them, so it’s nice to be back in more of the prime-time feel with the spotlight more on us this time.”
Broncos coach Don Drake, who has coached Boyd’s varsity since the school opened in 2006, said it’s only natural to expect to compete even better against the Plano schools and Allen this time around.
“Our goal is to perform better this time around then last time we were in there,” Drake said. “Our kids are excited about that aspect because they get a second chance to go back in and compete against them. The kids that are seniors for us now were freshmen when we went through that district last time, so they are hungry for another chance to make a name for ourselves in that district.”
The biggest name returning for the Broncos is their all-state running back, Bryan Driskell. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound athlete will try and recreate a 2011 campaign that saw him run for 2,079 yards on 317 carries, accounting for 28 touchdowns along the way. In fact, Driskell has been selected by Dave Campbell’s 2012 Texas Football magazine as the District 10-5A Preseason Offensive MVP. But despite the talent Boyd possesses in the backfield, the Broncos will need the pieces around him to step it up to match the high octane offenses of schools like Allen and Plano East.
“I mean, we feel good offensively,” said Driskell. “We have a few new receivers this year that will help us and some new tight ends that will help out, and both are going to help spread out the field for us. It will make our double-threat, run-and-pass game much more effective.”
Of course, a team that can return its starting quarterback from a year ago will be ahead of the curve a bit, which is the case for the Broncos with Curtis Ladd. The junior signal caller won’t be asked to do too much in this offense in terms of throwing the football, but he can make the offense much more dangerous with his legs if he can top his five rushing touchdowns from a season ago. Also, sophomore wide receiver Dedrick Scrivens has made a name for himself this offseason. Scrivens played running back in 2011, but the 5-9 175-pound pass catcher will hope to use his 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash to make plays down the field.
Despite some key offensive pieces returning in 2012, Drake and the rest of his staff feels like continuing to create competition will not only help them figure out depth for some key positions, but keep every player motivated and active each day.
“We returned some starters in some key positions so we are excited about that,” Drake said. “Obviously, we have an all-state running back coming back in Bryan Driskell, so I wouldn’t say that there is a battle for who is going to be the starting running back. But I think what you see in those situations are whose going to be the second guy that you can rely on if you need to.
“We believe in creating competition at every position, because I never want to make a kid feel like he is the guy and that he has arrived. We are going to push every one of them regardless of whom it is. Good thing for us is that we have a group of kids that come to work every day so we don’t have to worry about them not giving great effort.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos will have to replace defensive end Jamal Palmer, who will be playing for Baylor University this fall. In fact, one of the goals of fall camp for Drake and his staff is to assess and reassemble this defensive line. For a head coach that firmly believes that a football team wins games up front in the trenches, figuring out the D-line issues is extremely important.
“It is critical that we find those kids that can get in there and perform at a high level and I think we have those kids there,” said Drake. “Some of them are going to be young and inexperienced, but at some point in life in every job that you do you are young and inexperienced, so you’ve got to dive in with both feet and work hard at it.”
While the senior Kimm does realize how big the losses were on the defensive side of the ball, he and the rest of the Bronco defense are excited about getting a chance to prove themselves once again.
“We lost some big parts last year, so I think we have to prove that we are going to be OK without them,” said Kimm. “We have to prove that there won’t be any lost steps and that we will still be a great defense.”
One of the biggest hurdles Drake feels the team faces in the early part of fall camp is conditioning. He understands how hard his guys worked this offseason with Performance Course and other workouts, but putting on the pads and running around is a much different animal in itself.
“I think conditioning is the biggest thing,” Drake said. “As hard as our kids work during the summer and as good of shape as they come back in, there’s a difference between being in good condition and football condition. There’s a big difference between running a 40 (yard dash) without pads on, and running a 40 with pads on. I think one of the challenges you face every year with your team is getting them in the proper condition to go out there and play four quarters of football at the end of August when it is 100-plus degrees at game time.”
Dave Campbell’s magazine picked the Broncos to finish third in District 10-5A behind Allen and Plano East. In a six-team district, the top four make it to postseason play. But for a program that has won a district championship in its short existence, Drake hasn’t reversed his expectations from anything less that a district title regardless of what teams his team must face along the way.
“I told the kids a couple of years ago that when we won our first district championship, our goal should be to go win a district championship every year regardless of what district we are in. I think when you set goals for yourself, you’ve got to set goals based on past experience. Prior to us ever making the playoffs, our goal wasn’t to win district. It was just to make the playoffs. Once we made the playoffs, our goal shifted to wanting to win district.
“So I am a believer in that you don’t go backwards in your mentality; once you accomplish something your goal should be to accomplish that plus more every year.”
Quote of the Camp:
“I just feel like it puts a new fire in all of us. Not that we are trying any harder than we ever had but I feel like we all want it really bad, and being in this new district we aren’t scared of anything and just want to go out there and prove ourselves.”
– Bryan Driskell, regarding his team’s outlook heading into fall camp.
Mike’s 3 Observations From Bronco Camp:
1. Boyd has found something quite good in having practices at 6 o’clock in the morning. While the players may not enjoy waking up at 5:15 for practice, the Broncos got to enjoy a Tuesday morning workout in 69 degrees.
2. Drake and his coaches sure do know how to use the entire field for position drills in the early portion of practice. Not only that, but the kids are constantly moving around and staying busy. I was quite surprised with how up-tempo the practice was early on.
3. It may seem cliché, but the Broncos stress getting to the ball on defense. In team drills, all 11 men had to get to the ball before the play was complete, which isn’t always easy for those weakside linebackers and deep safeties lining up. If Boyd expects to make the postseason this fall, it is going to have to carry over this ball-hawking mentality from practice and into the games.
2012 McKinney Boyd Schedule
vs. Mesquite Horn – August 31
@ Coppell – September 7th
@ Garland – September 14th
vs. Rockwall – September 21st
@Lewisville – September 28th
vs. Plano West – October 12th
@ Plano – October 19th
vs. Allen – October 26th
@Plano East – November 2nd
vs. McKinney – November 9th
Bold represents District 10-5A games. All games begin at 7:30 p.m. Home games are at Ron Poe Stadium.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series. Check back for team previews on both McKinney High and McKinney North later in the week on TSB!