By Jason Della Rosa
By Jason Della Rosa
There is a lot on the line as the Denison Yellow Jackets close out the season tonight at Munson Stadium.
Denison welcomes McKinney North for the District 13-4A finale and the Jackets can keep the district title for themselves with a victory as well as the easier playoff path by clinching the top seed in the Division II bracket.
Not to mention it’s Senior Night and the last contest in the 74-year-old building before construction starts Saturday for a new facility to open in 2014.
It means just as much to North, which can get its share of the 13-4A crown with a victory as well as the playoff berth that comes with it. A loss by the Bulldogs could eliminate them based on the other results in the district.
"It will be a playoff-type atmosphere," Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. "It’s a huge game against a really good team. At this time last year we were out. This year there’s a lot more involved."
Denison is coming off one of the best performances in school history in a 64-14 victory against Greenville. The point total, which included 43 scored in the second quarter alone, tied for the sixth-most and the 585 yards was the eighth-most for a single-game in the Denison record books.
Jaleel Dade had a school record 209 yards, and three touchdowns, on four catches, Devon Blanton threw four TD passes and ran for a score, Khalil Brown finished with 157 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and Colton Henslee chipped in 108 yards and two TDs on eight carries in the victory that clinched Denison’s first playoff berth in four years.
McKinney North needed overtime to be in this position. The Bulldogs rallied to force the extra period before beating Wylie East, 42-39, to set up this week’s showdown. Raul DelaRosa made a 44-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter and then booted the 30-yard game-winner.
Ronald Jones had 237 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries to pace McKinney North, something he has done all season. The junior running back has 1,719 yards and 28 touchdowns on 166 carries this year.
"He breaks long runs. We’ve got to come together as a team," junior linebacker Arlton Ardrey said. "I think we’re going to rise to the challenge. We’ve worked really hard this week."
Added Rogers: "If he gets his shoulders square and gets to the second level, he’s gone. I’d say they are one of the more balanced offenses, with great team speed, that we’ve seen."
Senior quarterback Ben Dutze has completed 102-of-179 passes for 1,482 yards and 11 touchdowns with three interceptions and run 115 times for 481 yards and five touchdowns as the duo has helped North score at least 42 points in every district game except a 38-24 loss against Wylie.
The Bulldogs lost no fewer than nine defensive starters to graduation and McKinney North has played in several shootouts this season. Outside of a 45-7 win against Greenville and a 42-13 win against Royse City, every other 13-4A opponent has scored at least 38 points against the Bulldogs, including the seven-touchdown performance by Sherman’s Tre’ Mask in the district opener.
While Denison goes into the final week knowing it is headed to the playoffs, the Yellow Jackets won’t know until after tonight their bi-district opponent in the 4A Division II Region II bracket.
Denison will face either Sulphur Springs or Hallsville next week but the playoff seeding for both 13-4A and 14-4A will depend on the outcomes of Week 10 contests. The Jackets will wrap up the No. 1 spot with a victory or a Lovejoy loss.
If Denison faces Sulphur Springs, it will be at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 at Texas A&M-Commerce. The match-up against Hallsville is still to be determined.
Sulphur Springs was on Denison’s schedule every season from 2006-11, including playoff match-ups in 2008 and 2009, while the Jackets have faced Hallsville just once before — a bi-district game in the 1988 playoffs.
The Denison junior varsity squad finished off a second straight undefeated run through district play with a victory over McKinney North last night.
The JV Jackets lost just one game this season — by a point against Paris — and have won 17 of their last 18 games.
"Especially in a district where we’re not the biggest school in the district," Rogers said. "They’ve done a really good job."
Denison is rotating two captain spots alongside permanent captains senior Yefri Chavez and junior Devon Blanton. Last week against Greenville the duo was joined by seniors Josh Hicks and Colton Henslee.
Senior Jaleel Dade’s record-setting receiving effort against Greenville helped vault him up the Denison record books.
Dade had 209 yards and three touchdowns on four catches, supplanting the old mark of 196 yards by Leslie DeHorney against Dallas Adamson in 1982. The three touchdowns were one short of the record set by Jimmay Mundine against Frisco Centennial in 2009.
The 99-yard touchdown pass from Devon Blanton in the second quarter is the longest in school history, surpassing the 90-yard connection between Scooter Means and Corey Robertson against Forney in 2004.
Dade is now 10th on the Denison single-season yards list with 485 yards and became the fifth Yellow Jacket with at least 900 career receiving yards.
He moved to fifth on the Denison list for career catches with 62 and is three catches from third place. Dade also became the sixth Yellow Jacket with at least 10 career receiving touchdowns.