The McKinney Lions have had one tough non-district schedule. It began with back-to-back road games versus a much-improved Frisco team and a veteran Colony Cougars team. Friday night, the Lions will wrap up their non-district season with their biggest challenge yet - Class 5A McKinney Boyd.
Talk about saving the best for last.
MHS This Week
Who: McKinney Boyd (1-1) vs. McKinney High (1-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Ron Poe Stadium
About the Opponent: Boyd's defense played over 100 snaps last Friday versus Flower Mound.
A Tale Of Two Halves
Last week, I predicted the Lions would lose to The Colony by a final score of 31-28. I must admit I was very surprised when I heard the announcement at Ron Poe Stadium that MHS was not only winning at the half but had already scored 28 points.
Junior Jonathon Shannon led the way with three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing.
"He's a great kid and he works really hard," head coach Jeff Smith said.
Quarterback Robert Somborn also put in a stellar first half and full game performance, finishing with over 400 yards passing and throwing over 100 yards to three different receivers. Smith said he was proud of Somborn but also credit his receivers, Connor Fuentes (131 yards, 7 catches), Quentin Casner (126 yards, 9 catches), and Shannon (110 yards, 9 catches), as well as the offensive line for giving him the pass protection necessary to complete 29 passes for the night.
The second half began with the Lions in control of the game following a defensive three-and-out. Momentum would shift in The Colony's favor, however, after an interception that would set up a game-tying touchdown.
"After the interception, momentum changed and things started to fall apart," Smith said.
The Cougars would go on to score 28 unanswered points to defeat MHS, 54-33.
"In the second half, The Colony tried to exploit some things that we're struggling with," Smith said. "They started running the football and we had trouble stopping the run and it got away from us. They're a good football team."
A Sort Of Homecoming
McKinney High's official homecoming game is scheduled for Oct. 7 versus Rockwall but in a way, Friday night's clash with Boyd will have a homecoming atmosphere. After all, Lions fans haven't seen their team play in town since Aug. 19 and the last time MHS played a game at Ron Poe Stadium was last November against Highland Park.
While Lions are excited for their first home game, the Broncos are equally fired-up as they prepare for their third straight game at Ron Poe.
"It's going to be a great matchup," Smith said. "Our kids are excited about playing them."
Last season's game between MHS and Boyd was a lot closer than its 57-33 final score indicates. The Lions kept up with Boyd for much of the game and totaled over 500 yards of offense. In the end, the veteran-led Broncos pulled away and added an extra touchdown for good measure.
Smith said both he and Don Drake have different teams this season, which should make for an exciting matchup.
It's no secret that the Lions have struggled to stop the run and Friday night they'll face an offense that is all about running through and around opposing defenses. Not only is junior running back Bryan Driskell off to a hot start in 2011 but also sophomore quarterback Curtis Ladd showed off his mobility versus Flower Mound with 122 yards rushing.
"They run the football very well so we've got to be committed to stopping the run," Smith said. "They can also throw the football. We've got to be prepared in all phases of the game."
Next Stop: Wylie
Win, lose, or draw, McKinney High's game versus McKinney Boyd has zero effect on whether the Lions will reach their playoff goal this season. Obviously, the Lions want to beat the Broncos and will do everything they can to pull of the upset. MHS' main focus, however, is on the bigger picture, meaning district competition.
"In our district you have to fight for every yard you get," Smith said. "Our non-district is the same way."
At the end of the night - no matter the outcome - Smith wants to see his team put together four complete quarters of football and avoid a second half collapse or a sluggish first half.
"We'd love to win the game but more importantly we've got to take steps to get better for district," he said.
On offense, MHS needs to capitalize on every scoring opportunity in order to keep up with the Broncos. Defensively, the Lions must limit Boyd's production on the ground.
"I believe we're going to get better and it's going to be a step in the right direction Friday night."
Player of the Week
Last Friday, junior Marcus Garrett returned the Lions' opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. In order to win or even give yourself a chance on the road, you've got to be able steal momentum away from the home team and Garrett was able to do that for MHS with an impressive, untouched kick return.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com