The home stretch of the regular season has arrived for the Denison Yellow Jackets and each week will have their full attention, starting with tonight against Denton Braswell.
While the Bengals may only have one victory, it did come last week and the second-year program has some positive vibes going. If Denison comes away with a victory, it would clinch a playoff spot for the second straight season — the first back-to-back appearances for the Jackets since 2008-09 — and give them more victories in a season (seven) since that 2009 campaign ended in the state semifinals.
The victory could also move them to the brink of earning the top spot for the Division II bracket.
Next Friday would then be a first-place showdown with state-ranked Denton Ryan with the winner gaining sole possession of the top spot in the standings.
Looming in two weeks to close out the season is Sherman, which is on its way to the playoffs for the first time in five years and clamoring to gain back the Ax for the first time since that last postseason appearance in 2012.
“Keep chugging along,” senior quarterback Austin Emery said. “Coach Rogers talks about complacency and not being satisfied.”
But looking ahead doesn’t seem like a problem.
“These kids have done a great job with that,” Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. “We have Braswell this week. We’re not going to worry about who’s next week.”
The Denison volleyball team has one final chance to clinch a second straight playoff berth, although it had to wait out the final results of the last day of the regular season.
It came down to the last night, when the Lady Jackets had the district bye, because they won only one of six matches in the second half of the schedule.
“We didn’t take advantage. Hopefully we come out with a win because this is the last chance,” senior outside hitter Taylor Greenameyer said. “All of us seniors, we’re really, really focused because our season could be over and we want to make it as far as possible.”
Once Sherman beat Denton and Denton Braswell lost against Denton Ryan, that put the Lady Yellow Jackets in a three-way tie for fourth place with Denton and Braswell for 5-5A’s last postseason berth.
Denison won the coin flip for the opening bye and Denton defeated Braswell, 25-21, 25-16, 25-22, on Thursday to advance to face the Lady Jackets tonight at 5:30 p.m. at Aubrey. The winner moves on to play District 6-5A champion Aledo in the bi-district round while the loser is eliminated.
The Lady Jackets split the district series with the lady Broncos and lost the second match down the stretch.
The captains for Denison’s win against Denton last week were seniors Austin Emery, Ty McFail, Darrian Butler and junior Nate Maulsby. It was the seventh straight week McFail was selected a captain and after the bye week he and Emery were named permanent captains the rest of the year with the other two spots rotating based on choices by offensive coordinator Charlie Means and defensive coordinator Todd Wallis.
It was the fourth time Emery was a captain. Maulsby was selected for the third time and second straight week while Butler was a captain for the first time this season.
The Yellow Jackets entered the second half of their win against Denton with just a seven-point lead. Denison’s defense made sure that would be enough, even as the Jackets went on to win by 21 points.
In the span of six possessions after the break, the Broncos were able to muster just a single yard. Part of that was a pair of turnovers in the third quarter — the first caused by the unit in a month. Dayveion Lewis jumped on a fumble and then Bralynn Ramsey recovered another after Jordin Hunter forced it on a tackle in the backfield.
Denton had 17 carries for 69 yards and Landy Kinne had six completions for 130 yards in the first half. By the end of the night, a four-yard completion — which came on the first play of the third quarter — and 12 carries for a loss of three yards was the second-half output.
“I thought we really started to contain the Kinne kid and force him backward instead of laterally where he could keep his eyes downfield,” Rogers said. “There were some sacks and got some turnovers that turned into points.”
The Broncos had just 20 plays in the second half and only six of them produced positive yardage.
“It felt great,” junior cornerback DeCurious Smith said. “We’re a second half team. You better play your hardest against us because we’re going to be hard to beat.”