For every home game, a team can celebrate something. Homecoming. Senior Night. Breast cancer awareness. But even for the most successful of programs, rare is the time you can honor those greats from the past. The Denison Yellow Jackets had an opportunity to do that before the District 5-5A opener against Wichita Falls. On the 20-year anniversary of the last of three straight Class 4A state runner-up finishes, players and coaches from the 1995-97 run were recognized for their achievements. It was a group that went 44-4 in those three seasons, losing just once before the state title game appearances. Those Jackets had an offense up to that point which was the best in school history and a defense that was relentless. It was almost like the current version knew who was in the building on Friday, and they put forth an effort in a 55-21 victory that looked awfully familiar.
It was over when — Ty McFail took the first snap of the possession 62 yards for a touchdown to give Denison a 35-0 lead with 4:37 remaining in the second quarter. He shot through the left side and outraced a linebacker to the sideline, then cut back at the 15 to avoid another defender for the score. It was the fifth straight drive the Jackets reached the end zone.
It was really over when — Bubba Roberts scored on an 11-yard run to cap Denison's first possession of the second half. Wichita Falls went three-and-out, the Jackets needed just seven plays to make it 42-7 with 7:38 left in the third quarter and the liberal use of back-ups was about to begin.
Player of the Game — Denison quarterback Austin Emery. The senior racked up 136 yards on only six carries and didn't miss on a single throw, completing 8-of-8 attempts for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Six of those 14 plays went for at least 17 yards.
Play of the Game — Emery's 53-yard run from the Denison four-yard line. Despite the final score, the start of the game did not go well. The Jackets got the ball, gained two yards and punted. Denison's next possession started at its five-yard line. The first play lost a yard. Wichita Falls had a chance to take advantage of the field position. And then Emery made the right pull on an option, keeping around the left side and getting to the Coyote 43-yard line. Four plays later the Jackets had a touchdown and the 96-yard drive, keyed by that run, was complete.
The good — Denison essentially scored on eight straight drives. There were five TDs, then a snap before the half, and then three more touchdowns. The passing game was perfect — literally — as Austin Emery and Cade Gordy went 9-for-9. Four of the throws were for touchdowns. The running game piled up 400 yards with only one 100-yard rusher. The balanced attack on the ground continues to cause issues for opponents and it means the play-action tendencies aren't telegraphed. Defensively the Jackets held Wichita Falls without a first down for the first 18 minutes and allowed just 22 yards on five series to open the game. They looked like the group from the first three games and not the one from a week prior. Special teams saw some more good kick return work. DeCurious Smith almost broke one all the way but had to settle for the Coyote 40.
The bad — On offense, the only thing was the opening drive. It lasted three plays and gained two yards. The only other possessions Denison didn't score was right before the half where they ran a play and to run out the clock on the contest. Defensively, offsides penalties continue to be a minor issue. It's an aggressive group and sometimes it is too aggressive. The Jackets had a couple of chances to snuff out the TD drive by the Coyotes before the half and on the second Wichita Falls scoring drive. The lone blemish on special teams was that Dalton Souther missed one of his extra points.
District dish — In addition to Denison's victory against Wichita Falls, Denton Ryan beat Denton, 42-13, and Rider beat Sherman, 24-21, while Braswell had the bye to open 5-5A play. This week the Jackets take Friday off while Sherman hosts Denton, Braswell takes on Ryan and Rider faces Wichita Falls.
Stinging stats of the week — Denison won its district opener for the second straight season…The Jackets are 4-1 for the first time since 2009…Denison has scored at least 55 points in back-to-back games for the first time since the middle of the 2009 season…The Jackets had 19 plays of at least 10 yards…Denison did not force a turnover for the second straight game…Austin Emery became the 21st Jacket QB to throw for 1,000 career yards. He is 38 yards from the top 20 and 298 from the top 15…Emery also surpassed 850 career rushing yards and moved to 40th on the Denison career list. He needs 112 yards for 1,000 in his career and would move to 37th with that milestone…Emery scored the 110th point of his career and is 29th on the all-time Denison scoring list with 113 points (10 touchdowns, 47 extra points, two field goals). He is nine points from a tie for 23rd…Kenny Gaffney moved into the top 45 all-time Denison rushing at 850 career yards and sits 45th. He is 38 yards from the top 40…Cayden Earnhart had a career-high with 30 receiving yards and caught the first varsity touchdown of his career…Braydon Roberts had a career-high three catches for a career-high 70 yards and the first varsity touchdown catch of his career…Cade Gordy threw and completed the first varsity pass of his varsity career, it went for a 12-yard touchdown. Gordy also had a career-high three carries for a career-high 45 yards…Bubba Roberts scored multiple touchdowns for the second straight game…Emery threw a career-high three touchdown passes…Darrian Butler had his first carries of the season and finished with a career-high five carries for 21 yards…Ty McFail had a career-high 62 yards rushing.