Tuesday , 19 September 2017

TSB’s Football Game of the Week: North Struggles To Find Rhythm In Loss To Prosper

By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer

The McKinney North Bulldogs’ 31-10 loss to Prosper can be summed up best with what occurred in two series early in the fourth quarter. Down 24-10 Friday night, the Bulldogs stopped the Eagles’ drive at their own 11-yard line, setting up a chance to get good field position to try and pull the game within one score.

While the cold front that was approaching the Dallas-Fort Worth area was just starting to make its presence known, the wind had been steadily picking up throughout the second half. Facing the south end zone at Ron Poe Stadium, the wind was blowing from the north at 15-20 mph, even rattling the field goal posts noticeably. As Prosper’s punter Tyler Webb put his foot into the ball, no one could have guessed that the ball would land around the North 45-yard line and bounce another 37 yards until a Bulldog player would pick it up and be tackled at the 8.

It was an 81-yard punt.

Four plays — and zero yards — later for the Bulldogs, Jacob Maclea would prepare to punt the ball facing directly into the now-steady wind. Despite good form and with little rush from the coverage team of Prosper, the ball went high up in the air and quickly came back down, only gaining six yards before a North player hastily downed the ball.

In a nutshell, that sequence epitomized the struggles that the Bulldogs (0-2) had all Friday night in front of a large crowd of fans. North never seemed to find a rhythm offensively, struggling on both the ground and through the air. Quarterback Ben Dutze took a beating from the aggressive Prosper defense, running the ball 11 times for 43 yards. He did have a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the opening drive of the second half to bring the Bulldogs to within seven points.

Through the air, Dutze only completed 8-of-22 attempts for 68 yards, while throwing two interceptions. Running back Trey Smith led the team in rushing with 62 yards on 19 carries, but the entire North offense never got into a groove due to the different looks and the athleticism of some of the players on the Eagle defense.

When asked about his offense’s struggles Friday night, North head coach Mike Fecci admired the talent that Prosper had on that side of the ball and knew having success against them would be a difficult challenge for his bunch.

“I think what they did defensively was that they were good up front and their safeties were physical,” said Fecci. “When you have athletes like No. 5 (Money Hunter) and No. 4 (Torii Hunter Jr.) out there that can do things for you, and you have linebackers who can plug up downhill, they can be pretty solid and I look for them to do big things in their district.”

The Bulldogs, who had opened the previous week with a 21-17 loss to Carrollton Newman Smith, had just 186 yards of total offense on the evening. They only had two turnovers, but did fumble the ball four times despite recovering every time.

For Prosper (2-0), which opened last week with a 39-21 win over Keller, play-making wide receiver and one of ESPN’s Top 150 prospects, Torii Hunter Jr., had a huge ballgame against North. Hunter caught seven passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns, which included a 35 and a 68- yard touchdown completion.

When asked what Prosper did to get Hunter, the son of Major League Baseball Player Torii Hunter, so open down the field on so many occasions, Fecci acknowledged the Eagles’ ability to utilize their top playmaker.

“They put him in inside slot, some outside, they just moved him around a lot and did a good job using him and it caused us to have to think some. Them going empty was something we hadn’t seen them do and we weren’t anticipating that, but I thought our kids adjusted to that OK.”

Quarterback Chase Dawkins was 11-of-18 passing for 185 yards and three scores, while also contributing 79 yards on the ground for a game high. Running back Mitchel Cordy had the lone rushing touchdown for the Eagles.

While Fecci and his players are certainly disappointed to have their early record drop to 0-2, he says that these non-district games are all about one thing in particular.

“This is just about perspective for us,” said Fecci. “It’s about learning lessons. Yeah, we want to win every game that we play in, but we want to learn lessons because we can use them when district play rolls around.”

North will stay home and battle Frisco Centennial (2-0) next Friday night at Ron Poe Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Centennial defeated Lake Dallas 42-14 on Friday at home. This is just another game in a tough opening schedule for Fecci and his Bulldog football team, but don’t think that his boys don’t know that and understand its purpose in the long run.

“We are not playing easy people. It’s going to be a tough challenge by design to get us ready for district. We are going to go out there and get after Frisco Centennial and see what happens.”

Photos by D.J. Newman  For more photos

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