If the Yellow Jackets want to find themselves at the top of the district standings, to say nothing of a playoff spot or better seeding, then their first test to achieve that goal is right in front of them.
Much like Denison, Frisco Reedy was a playoff team last season. Much like Denison, Reedy has designs on getting back there and improving on a district runner-up finish to a state power.
The Jackets hope that is where most of the similarities end and that they remain undefeated in district play while the Lions gets knocked down a spot as Denison (2-1, 1-0) travels to face Reedy (3-0, 1-0) in 7-5A (II) action at The Star at 7 p.m. tonight in a game moved because of impending bad weather on Friday.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” senior wide receiver Peyton Reed said. “We can’t worry about anything but how we practice and work harder than everybody else.”
And while there will still be half of the season remaining, the winner takes an early pole position to ultimately end with the district title. It’s the start of a potential defining stretch for Denison, which takes on Princeton next week and Lake Dallas the following Friday. Those two teams face off on Thursday and end the first half of Denison’s district schedule that is far more daunting the second half, where Lovejoy looks to pose the biggest threat.
“The winner of this is in better shape than the loser, that’s for sure. This could be one of the games that you look back, even though it’s early, and say these could be the best two teams in the district,” Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. “It’s a great challenge for us. I’ve been excited all week. We’re going to have to play very well.”
But these Jackets have done their best not focus that far down the road, especially with Reedy right in front of them.
“If we do what the coaches tell us to do, we should be good,” senior defensive end Dayveion Lewis said. “We worry about the team coming up so we can stay ready, not worry about the next team until they come up.”
The Jackets couldn’t have opened district any better. For starters, they were able to avoid having storms that rolled through the area heavily impact their 41-14 victory over Frisco Lebanon Trail. Denison had a 41-0 lead late in the second quarter, played a majority of backups in the second half and Lebanon Trail didn’t score until the fourth quarter.
The backfield duo of senior Kyrion Rosser and freshman Jadarian Price did all their work in the first half. Rosser finished with 10 carries for 150 yards and two touchdowns, Price totaled 130 yards and a TD on just eight carries and senior quarterback Cade Gordy scored twice on the ground as the Jackets ran for nearly 400 yards.
“You know as a receiver at Denison, unless you’re Steven Wagoner you’re not going to get the ball thrown at you a lot,” Reed said. “You’re going to have to be blocking and that’s how you leave your mark.”
Alex Pierce paced the defense with a 49-yard interception return for a score in the middle of the second quarter. Cam Wheeler also picked off a pass and by half-time Denison had allowed just 86 yards and only two of those were in the opening 12 minutes.
“Defensively we bounced back in a big way,” Rogers said. “Offensively we struggled early. I think we’re a pretty good offense. We’ll know a lot more after this game against Reedy.”
Frisco Reedy is in its third year as a varsity program and it didn’t take the Lions very long to get good. After an inaugural 3-7 record, Reedy went 9-2 last season and was the runner-up in district to 5A Division II region finalist Lone Star and suffered a three-point bi-district loss to Lake Dallas.
“There’s a big talent bed in the Frisco area. Defense is similar and offense is similar,” Rogers said. “They’re solid. They come out of the gate on fire.”
The Lions entered 2018 as one of the district favorites and took a big step in that direction last week as it opened 7-5A play with a 35-14 win over Lake Dallas. Michael Ferrara had 16 carries for 212 yards and two touchdowns, William Harbour added a pair of rushing touchdowns and Reedy finished with 327 of its 424 yards on the ground.
Lake Dallas threw for 229 yards but managed just 29 carries for 34 yards and stopping the run as been a major focus for the Lions. In non-district play they had a 46-14 victory over Plano West and a 33-24 win against The Colony. West finished with 27 carries for 18 yards while The Colony mustered just 58 yards on 21 attempts.
Ferrara leads Reedy with 48 carries for 372 yards and five touchdowns while Harbour doesn’t have a lot of touches — 14 — but has scored four times.
Josh Foskey has completed 37-of-57 passes for 549 yards with three touchdowns — two of them to Ferrara — and an interception and is second on the team in rushing with 109 yards and a TD on 22 carries.
The main receiving threats are Nolan Matthews, who has eight catches for 147 yards, Bennett Mecom, who has 10 grabs for 130 yards and Ryan Middleton, who had 129 yards and a touchdown on seven catches.
Harbour leads in tackles for a defense that is averaging seven tackles for a loss per game. Plano West, which is 0-3, didn’t get to 200 total yards against Reedy but both The Colony and Lake Dallas were able to move the ball through the air, notching 284 and 229 yards, respectively.
“Their d-line is good,” Rogers said. “We’re going to have to get in some different formations and take advantage of what we do well.”