It may not count as an official win in the standings, but the McKinney High School football team enjoyed what the scoreboard looked like Friday night at Ron Poe Stadium.
Lions 13, Richardson 3.
October 28th, 2010 was the last night that the Lions and their fans have enjoyed the taste of victory. Fresh off of a winless 2011 campaign, MHS began the ultimate rebuilding project with a solid victory over the Richardson Eagles. This was the team’s final tune-up before the real games begin next week.
In front of a sparse crowd for both schools, the Lions showed some positive signs on both sides of the ball. On offense, quarterback Robert Somborn struggled to find a groove in the game’s first “half," where each team was given two drives of 12 plays each. On the first play of the scrimmage for the Lions, the team’s most dynamic weapon, Red Shannon, fumbled the ball, which resulted in a turnover. Four plays later, Somborn would run out of the pocket and to his right, where he was looking for a receiver but unfortunately found the hands of an Eagle linebacker for the interception.
However, the defense would respond in a major way. Shannon, who also plays defensive back, made two huge plays in Richardon's early drive. On an blitz from the left side of the field, Shannon flew through the backfield off the snap of the ball and forced the quarterback to make a quick pass out into the left flat. Almost in one motion, Shannon was able to jump in the air and find a way to swat the ball down, drawing some major reactions from the MHS bench. A couple plays later with the ball on the Lion 30-yard line, Shannon would step in front of a curl route and pick off the ball. He would have been able to walk into the end zone for six points, but the refs blew the whistle because the game was not being scored at the time.
McKinney head coach Jeff Smith spoke after the game about the importance of Shannon to both sides of the offense.
“We are going to have him on the field as much as we can,” said Smith. “Obviously he has got to get a break, but we want Red on the field as much as he can play. He’s one of our team captains, he’s been a three-year lettermen, so Red is a good player and we need to get him on the field as much as we can.”
After a short halftime, the game would finally be kept score, as the teams would play for two 12-minute quarters. McKinney received the ball and made quick work on offense, as Somborn completed a short screen pass to Connor Fuentes who ran the ball 66 yards for a Lions touchdown. After forcing a Richardson punt, the Lions would move the ball methodically down the field and into Eagle territory. With perhaps his most explosive play of the game on offense, Shannon juked and spun his way through several Eagle defenders and scampered into the end zone along the right sideline for a score to put his team up 13-0.
Richardson would go on to kick a field goal in the next drive for its only points of the game, while MHS would miss a 34-yard field goal on its final offensive possession. While there were definetly some areas of improvements from each side, such as missed assignments and erratic plays, Smith understands how important it was for his team to go out there and scrimmage a team like Richardson.
“It was good for us to go out there and scrimmage versus Richardson and see what we need to work on and what we did well, and that’s kind of part of the scrimmage. Evaluate ourselves, look at our personnel and what we did well, but as a whole I thought we started slow but we finished pretty well. We cannot start off slow and spot people points. We have to start ell and play four quarters.”
Perhaps the biggest area the Lions will hope to improve between now and next Friday night is the teams physicality, which is an area Smith and his coaching staff have been stressing all camp long.
“Physical teams win, so we talk to them a lot about coming off the ball and being more physical," Smith said. "We weren’t as physical as we need to be those first couple of drives.”
The Lions are less than a week from its first real game, a road matchup against Mansfield Legacy. If the team can continue to find explosive plays on offense and be opportunistic on defense, MHS will be in the game till the very end. And while the victory doesn’t count officially, Smith understands how important any kind of a victory can be, whether it is on the field or not.
“We want to win at everything. We want to win in the classroom, we want to win on the field, and we want to win at whatever we do. Yeah it’s a scrimmage, but we want these kids making progress every time they walk on the field whether it be practice or a game.”