“I’ve never felt better at 0-3 than I do right now.”
That statement sums up McKinney North coach Mike Fecci’s message to his football team after a 42-21 loss to Frisco Centennial at Ron Poe Stadium on Friday night. While a constant rain made conditions less than satisfying for the fans and parents in the stands, the Bulldogs were unable to overcome a 21-0 first-quarter deficit to the Titans and finished an incredibly difficult non-district schedule 0-3.
From the start, the high-tempo Titan offense was in full swing, led by quarterback Lamar Jordan. Regarded as one of the top signal callers in the area on a team that came into Friday night ranked No. 1 in the area according to the Dallas Morning News, Jordan threw for 224 yards on 16-of-29 passing, with three touchdowns and one interception as Centennial improved its record to 3-0. He also ran for an extra 13 yards and had two rushing touchdowns, both in the first quarter.
Centennial wide receiver Kelly Cordova may have only had two catches for 29 yards, but he was able to record a 30-yard passing touchdown to Stoney Hawkins when Cordova faked a reverse and hit the tight end down the field. That was one of Hawkins two receiving touchdowns on the night, while Cody Bagwell also caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Jordan.
Titans running back Chris Johnson ran for 100 yards on the ground on just 11 carries, showing off his speed as well as power on several occasions versus a stout Bulldog front seven.
For the Bulldogs, they struggled on offense to establish any sort of rhythm all night long. Quarterback Ben Dutze completed just 50 percent of his passes, throwing for 112 yards including one touchdown and two picks while also running for another touchdown. Wide receiver Evan Jones caught six passes for a team-high 52 yards and a touchdown. Running back Trey Smith led the team in rushing with 86 yards and a score.
While the offensive highs were far and few between on Friday night, the highlight of the night came with almost two minutes left in the first half. Down 35-0, North was able to drive the ball from its own 32-yard line down to the Centennial 11, where Dutze found Jones for an 11-yard score and the first points of the game.
With 2:36 left, the Bulldogs forced the Titans to a 3rd and 10 from their own 23-yard line, when Jones was able to make a play on defense and pick off Jordan to give his team great field position. One play later, Smith ran up the middle for 38 yards and a touchdown, and in the span of 34 seconds, the Bulldogs had scored 14 points and got their fans back into the game.
“I think it shows the character of our kids,” said Fecci, in regards to the two scoring drives. “We've got a great group of kids who believe in themselves, they believe in what we are doing, and they are fighters. They came out and they just played each play.”
Fecci said his team's offensive struggles would be felt with any team that Centennial would play this season, specifically pointing out defensive lineman Kevin Smith as the cause of the frustration.
“He’s a pretty good player,” said Fecci. “It wasn’t necessarily anything they were doing scheme-wise. They were just very good. They are the number one team in the area for a reason. No. 9 (Smith) is a tremendous player. He is a difference maker up there, and he is not the only one. No. 1 (defensive back Ranthony Texada), No. 44 (linebacker Blair Swanner), they just have good players.”
With seven Bulldog drives ending in either a 3-and-out or a turnover, Fecci knows that his offensive must find consistency heading into District 13-4A play.
“I think we got to be more consistent. I think we showed spurts of being able to be a really good offense, and then inconsistency happens. Whether that be a false start, whether that be a bad snap, whether that be a bad read or a back missing a cut, we just got to be more consistent on offense.”
Despite the 0-3, Fecci and his players didn’t look too disappointed after Friday night’s game. As the players broke from the postgame huddle and made their way to the locker room, you got the sense that the best football is still ahead for these McKinney North Bulldogs.
“I like where we are, granted I don’t like being 0-3. I hate that but I am looking past that, because we are done with that. Now it’s time to go play district ballgames.”
The Bulldogs will have a bye week next Friday before starting up district play on the road at Sherman. Sherman is 2-1 after losing 35-21 at home to Highland Park. The Bearcats have a bye next week as well.
Photos by D.J. Newman