I have to imagine Denison fans are sick of seeing Sulphur Springs. The Wildcats have become a staple of the Jackets’ schedule in the past decade and outside of a region final victory in 2009 to propel Denison into the state semifinals, things don’t normally end well for the black and gold side. When Denison had made it to the playoffs in 2008 after a three-year absence, the Jackets were 12-0 and dreaming big. Sulphur Springs handed them their only loss in the region semifinals and the Wildcats went on to win it all. Fast-forward five years and Denison makes the playoffs after a three-year absence. And again Sulphur Springs is the eliminator, making a trip to the postseason the Jackets had waited so long for come to a quick ending.

I have to imagine Denison fans are sick of seeing Sulphur Springs. The Wildcats have become a staple of the Jackets’ schedule in the past decade and outside of a region final victory in 2009 to propel Denison into the state semifinals, things don’t normally end well for the black and gold side. When Denison had made it to the playoffs in 2008 after a three-year absence, the Jackets were 12-0 and dreaming big. Sulphur Springs handed them their only loss in the region semifinals and the Wildcats went on to win it all. Fast-forward five years and Denison makes the playoffs after a three-year absence. And again Sulphur Springs is the eliminator, making a trip to the postseason the Jackets had waited so long for come to a quick ending.


And to add a little more to the misery — there’s a chance come February realignment puts these two back in the same district.


It was over when — Larry Pryor scored on the first play of the second half with a 33-yard run. Denison tried an onside kick down 29 to get the ball back right away. The attempt went even worse when it got returned to the 33-yard line and the first play was a touchdown.


It was really over when — Alex Burney caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Pryor with 4:41 left in the third quarter. Denison had actually gotten to the point where three touchdowns and three conversions would have tied the game after making it 60-36. Sulphur Springs was one play away from punting at midfield when it faced third-and-12. Pryor broke out of the pocket and lofted the TD pass to a streaking Burney behind the defense. If Denison got the stop and had been able to score, there would have been something of a sweat going to the fourth quarter.


Player of the Game — Larry Pryor had 102 yards and four touchdowns on 15 carries while completing 8-of-11 passes for 186 yards and four touchdowns as part of guiding Sulphur Springs to a 50-point first half. Pryor was so efficient that the Wildcats needed just 27 plays to get those 50 points.


Play of the Game — Melroy Givens returns an interception just over 90 yards to the Denison one-yard line. The Jackets had fallen behind 37-14 after their last drive ended with a turnover in their territory. But Denison responded with a good-looking drive and after a penalty on Sulphur Springs had first-and-10 at the Wildcats 14 with under a minute left in the first half. A TD would send them to the locker room down just 37-21. Instead, Devon Blanton’s pass was deflected and Givens caught it and headed the other way, only to be dragged down at the one. The Wildcats scored on the first play and then recovered a pooch kick and got another score. 37-21 was suddenly 50-21 after the Jackets got a kickoff return for a score by Jaleel Dade.


The good — Denison was able to produce 482 yards and 42 points of offense, despite three turnovers and a pair of fourth-down stops. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be enough after the Jackets scored touchdowns on their first two drives. Jaleel Dade returned a kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown and Will Parker had a 55-yard punt for big plays on special teams.


The bad — The season came to an end. Offensively the overall numbers were there but the three turnovers (two in the red zone) and the fourth-down stops had to be avoided in a shootout like this. The Jacket defense couldn’t get a stop in the first half until Sulphur Springs had scored on its first four possessions. And then the Wildcats scored on the five after that, all of them TDs except for a field goal in the third quarter. Special teams hurt the cause as the Wildcats recovered a pair of kicks, including one pooch Dade just let drop and bounce in front of him. The Wildcats turned both special teams mistakes and two of the turnovers into touchdowns.


Bi-district bits — Unfortunately it turned out that Denison was the only 13-4A team to lose to a 14-4A opponent. Wylie advanced with a 42-21 victory against Marshall and McKinney North defeated 14-4A champ Texas High, 26-14, while Lovejoy defeated Hallsville, 55-51. It was the case of a bad draw for the Jackets, who I think had a better chance against the other three 14-4A teams. The loss in the season finale bit them in that regard.


Stinging stats of the week — Chad Rogers becomes the eighth man to coach a Denison playoff game, joining W.B. Graham, Pat Pattison, Les Cranfill, Herman Bailey, Marty Criswell, Bob Brown and Cody White…The Jackets finished with six wins in 2013, which is one shy of the seven total from 2010-12…Two of Denison’s last three playoff losses are against Sulphur Springs…Denison scored at least 33 points in nine straight games to end the season…The 66 points are the most allowed by Denison in the playoffs, surpassing 56 scored by Wolfforth Frenship in 2005 and Waxahachie in 1992…The only other games Denison has allowed more points in its history were 85 against Gainesville in 1919, 78 against Sherman in 1925, 72 against Dallas Terrell in 1913 and 71 against Sherman in 1915…Blanton became the 34th Jacket with 1,000 yards rushing in his career and just went over 1,000 for the season, finishing with 1,002…After not having a 1,000-yard rusher from 2010-12, Denison had a pair this season. It is the second time that has happened and Denard Whitfield and Blanton join Jordan Taylor and D.J. Jones in 2009…Jaleel Dade tied his career high with six catches, joining Warren Dade and Denard Whitfield as the only Jackets to have at least two six-catch games in their career…Dade moved to sixth on the Denison single-season receiving yards list with 630 yards. Spots 4, 5 and 6 are all held by Dades (Warren, Junior and Jaleel)…Dade became the fifth Yellow Jacket with at least 1,000 career receiving yards, finishing with 1,052…Dade moved to third on the Denison list for career catches with 71. Only Warren Dade (88) and Cody Reeves (83) caught more for Denison…Blanton set a career high with 14 completions and 23 attempts…Blanton became the 23rd Yellow Jacket with 700 passing yards in his career…Colton Henslee caught the first touchdown of his career…Drew Marr caught the first touchdown of his career…Eddie Moreno scored the first touchdown of his career and had a career-high seven carries…Khalil Brown caught a career-high two passes.