If you want to throw out Denison’s loss against Denton Ryan last season — and most people who face the Raiders would like to — the only other team in District 5-5A that was able to beat the Yellow Jackets in 2016 was the OG of Denton, the Broncos.
It was a down-to-the-wire game that Denton won by a point and would have gone to overtime if Denison hadn’t missed an early extra point. It was the difference between keeping the Jackets’ hopes for a district title really alive and at least second place instead of ending up in third.
This year’s match-up means a lot more than those things for the Broncos, who are fighting for their playoff lives. A loss to Denison will put them on the verge of elimination and in must-win mode for their final two games under new head coach Billy Miller, who was an assistant at Denton Ryan before replacing Kenny Atkinson this fall.
Denton is in that spot because of a four-game losing streak that included the first two games of district play. The Broncos are 3-4 on the season and 1-2 in 5-5A action but could easily only have one win — last week’s 49-21 victory over Wichita Falls.
The season started with a 20-15 victory against Lake Dallas and then a 28-21 win over Sanger.
Then came a 28-24 loss in overtime to The Colony, a 37-7 loss against Timber Creek to close out non-district play and then a 42-13 loss to Ryan and a 35-14 defeat to Sherman to start district.
In getting back on track last week against Wichita Falls, Landry Kinne was 19-of-31 passing for 226 yards and four touchdowns —two apiece to Isaiah Wofford and Cortez Cardenas — with an interception and also ran for 54 yards and a TD on 11 carries. Corbin Shelley added 16 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Kinne, a sophomore and the son of former Sherman head coach Garry Kinne, took over at quarterback and has completed 97-of-170 passes for 1,174 yards and 10 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He has thrown all but one of Denton’s passes this season.
The starting running back job went to Xylohn Posey, who transferred from Sherman after his freshman season. Posey has not played in two of Denton’s district games due to an ankle injury. He tried to go against the Bearcats but had just three carries before exiting.
Despite missing time Posey still leads the team in rushing with 68 carries for 464 yards and six touchdowns. Kinne is second with 254 yards and three touchdowns on 84 rushes.
Shelley has stepped in and has 50 carries for 236 yards and the TD last week. Ja’Mal McCoy-Maxwell is the only other Bronco with double-digit carries (17 attempts for 74 yards).
Wofford, who was the district offensive newcomer of the year as a sophomore, and Cardenas are the top two receiving threats. Wofford has 27 catches for 432 yards and four touchdowns. Cardenas has 30 catches for 360 yards and four TDs. Kollin Buris, who was second team all-district as a junior, is at 16 receptions for 168 yards and a TD. No one else has double-digit catches or at least 100 yards. Brooks Bedinger has the only other touchdown grab.
The unit did lose first-team all-district receiver Adrian Wilson to Denton Braswell for his senior year.
The offensive line had a major overhaul after graduating all of its starters and the entire group was made up of players who were named either first or second-team all-district.
On defense, senior lineman Jacob Dean and classmate Tony Tony-Itoyah, an outside linebacker, were both first-team all-district while junior lineman Andy Scott was second-team all-district.
Daniel Calderon has taken over kicking duties from Robert Reyes, who was second-team all-district as a senior.