Starting off a football season with back-to-back road games is tough for any team but especially for a young team like McKinney High. The Lions have a lot of fresh faces on the field this season and those players were introduced to varsity football last week at Frisco.
The Raccoons were not only defending their home turf but they're also on the hunt for redemption this season. Running back Carlos Harris (23 carries, 232 yards) and the Frisco offense executed their clock-controlling game plan perfectly and ran wild on the Lions' defense. McKinney High's offense gave a solid effort but two costly turnovers hurt the Lions in the long run. With the offense unable to catch up and the defense unable to stop Frisco's rushing attack, MHS dropped its first game of the season 39-26.
"I think that we saw a good, veteran Frisco team move the ball pretty well on us," second-year head coach Jeff Smith said. "They didn't make any mistakes and we made two mistakes that ultimately hurt us."
MHS scored the first touchdown of the night on a three-yard pass from Robert Somborn to Jonathon Shannon with 5:43 to go in the first quarter. The Lions managed to draw first blood but it was the Raccoons who then took over with back-to-back touchdowns from Harris and a rushing touchdown from quarterback Eric Allen. In the third quarter, Shannon caught another pass from Somborn to put the Lions on the board after going scoreless in the second quarter. Once again, however, Frisco responded with back-to-back scores. MHS made an attempt at a fourth quarter comeback with two touchdowns on a pass to Quentin Casner and a run from Somborn but the Lions' effort was too little, too late.
"We kinda ran out of time," Smith said. "They controlled the clock and we couldn't catch up."
Smith's first win as head coach of the Lions was a 42-8 stomping of Frisco High last August at Ron Poe Stadium. That was a night of celebration. Last Friday, however, was a night of disappointment.
"I know we're disappointed but we've got lots of games left on our schedule," Smith told his players. "The non-district is about finding out who we are and tightening things up. We need to work on improving for the district race, which is our main goal."
On Monday morning, the Lions did they only thing they could do and got back to work.
"We're just getting started," Smith said. "There's no need to panic. We just need to get better."
Since that first morning practice of week two, Smith believes his players back on the right track mentally in preparation for Friday's tough road test at The Colony. The Cougars dropped their first game of the season in a 28-20 loss to Sherman at the Cotton Bowl.
"The Colony is a good football team," Smith said. "It's going to be a big challenge for us."
The Colony was 2-8 in 2009 and finished 4-6 in 2010 in a district that included Division-I state runner-up Denton Ryan as well as regional finalist Wichita Falls Rider. This season, the Cougars are looking to compete with the top teams in 4-4A and they have 12 returning starters that will make a big impact this fall.
The Colony's offense is led by a duo of D-I recruits, quarterback Garrett Simpson and wide receiver Gerald Thomas. Simpson passed for over 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns last fall, while Thomas hauled in 71 catches for nearly 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns.
On defense, the Cougars are a physical group that is known for constant blitzes and causing havoc in the backfield to disrupt the offense. Smith said the Lions have to be ready to counter The Colony's defense with an attack of their own and in order to do that the Lions will need another solid rushing performance from junior Marquez Husband.
In his first varsity game at the running back position, Husband didn't get into the endzone but he still managed to rush for 155 yards while averaging 11 yards per carry.
"He had a great game," Smith said. "He ran hard and we feel like he give us a great physical presence in the backfield."
Husband also caught four passes for 36 yards.
On Friday night, the Lions will load up the buses and head out for their second straight road game to start the season. Even though his players would much rather be playing at home, Smith believes starting the year on the road is a good thing.
"We need to be out on the road and experience that process," he said. "We need to be a good road team. Obviously, we didn't win Friday night but we need to learn to travel and play well. We love playing at home but playing away will help prepare us as we get ready to play tough opponents in our district."
The Colony (0-1) hosts McKinney High (0-1) Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com