For the second straight week the Denison Yellow Jackets are taking on a pack of Coyotes.
Denison knew what it was getting last Friday against Frisco Heritage and its multi-talented quarterback Amare Jones, who ended up producing big numbers for the second year in a row. But as the District 5-5A schedule opens and the Jackets welcome Wichita Falls to Munson Stadium, the team that shows up will be quite a bit different than the one Denison beat a year ago to start its run to the playoffs.
First it comes with a change at the top. Grant Freeman is now the head coach — the third in as many seasons as he takes over for Paul Scharr. There has been a change at the skill positions, include behind center. And, perhaps most important, these Coyotes already have won more games in 2017 than they did in 2016.
Wichita Falls was 0-4 at this point a year ago and on the way to a second consecutive 1-9 campaign. But after the Coyotes opened with a 35-10 loss against Sweetwater, they earned a 40-21 victory over Cleburne and then edged Arlington Heights, 15-13, before a 36-16 loss against Haltom.
Last week against Haltom, Wichita Falls was down only 16-9 at half-time before the home team scored three times in the third quarter to break the game open.
Marcus King ran 18 times for 85 yards and a touchdown and Zach Williams had a 14-yard TD pass to Jordan Hatton.
In the win against Cleburne, Williams threw for 222 yards and four touchdowns with much of that going in the direction of Hatton, who totaled five catches for 144 yards. A.J. Byrd led the team with 60 yards on six carries and added four receptions for 61 yards.
Williams, a sophomore, took over at quarterback and has had some ups and downs. For every fast start against Cleburne, he finished with just 34 yards against Haltom.
King has been a focal point of the running attack but the Coyotes seem to be in the mold of Denison, which has no problem using a combination of backs. King, Williams and Ben McAfee have all had double-digit carry outings so far this season.
Hatton has been the team’s top receiver after being second-team all-district as a junior with Isaiah Johnson a strong second option.
Defensively teams have had better success throwing against Wichita Falls.
Senior linebacker Tremaine Gaines was a second-team all-district selection last season while classmate Andy Lopez earned that distinction at cornerback.
Alex Ramirez is back to handle kicking duties and he has missed some extra points, so that could be something to watch for.