Yellow Jackets working to end skid

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Denison quarterback Caleb Heavner and the Yellow Jackets will look to end a two-game losing streak when they travel to Rock Hill in District 7-5A (II) action on Friday.

There are are still seven games left in the season and so the Yellow Jackets aren’t going to panic.

They have played two high-quality opponents — currently with a combined 7-0 record — that have stifled an offense from which much was expected.

Flashes of progress are evident. There is still something missing. It is not a big piece or a monumental change. When it seems like the breakthrough is about to happen, something falls out of step and it alters the trajectory.

“When you watch the video you can see it. It’s what we don’t do all at the same time,” Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. “It’s not the same player. It’s not the same issue. We have to fire on all 11 cylinders.”

Or it could just be as simple as it sounds for a team trying for its first win in a month — play better and up to the capabilities the Jackets have previously shown.

“It’s on all of us. We have to be better. We’re going to be better,” Rogers said. “I’m really impressed with how they have bounced back. The focus is really good. They’re locked in. The attitude’s been phenomenal.”

Denison (1-2, 0-1) will try to return to producing at a high level as it travels to Prosper Rock Hill (0-3, 0-2) for a District 7-5A (II) match-up at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Jackets really can’t afford to extend their skid — four teams are undefeated with Lebanon Trail, Lovejoy, Frisco Liberty and Liberty after two weeks of district play. Denison plays Lebanon Trail next week with Frisco and Liberty coming in the final month of the schedule. Banking wins to make those games matter starts now.

“I don’t think you even look at the other teams. Every game matters during this pandemic. It’s a strange year,” Rogers said. “You’ve got to be aggressive and get as many wins as you can because you don’t know how many games you’ll end up actually playing.”

The Yellow Jackets are looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak since the start of 2016. They are coming off a 31-24 loss against Lovejoy where they led 24-10 after three quarters and had a seven-point lead in the middle of the fourth before the Leopards rallied to win on a TD pass with 19 seconds left.

Keleon Vaughn had a 103-yard interception return for a touchdown which was the longest play in school history, Keebler Wagoner caught a TD pass from Caleb Heavner, Asa Osbourn totaled 80 yards on 20 carries and Jadarian Price chipped in 17 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown.

But the offense managed less than 250 yards for a second straight game. The unit has just seven touchdowns and that is strengthened by five in the opening win over Sherman.

“We played a really good football team and I think we’re a really good football team. If we do a couple things different, the result changes,” Rogers said. “We’ve got to go out and play like we can.”

Rock Hill is still searching for its first victory in the young history of the program.

The Blue Hawks had their best opportunity last week when the lost, 24-17, against Princeton. Rock Hill held a 17-10 half-time lead before Princeton rallied to pull out the win.

“They have a lot of kids to play. It’s not a typical first-year program; lot of seniors and juniors,” Rogers said. “I think they’re ahead of where a new school normally is.”

Brenner Cox led the Blue Hawks with 15 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown but completed 9-of-21 passes for 106 yards and an interception, Sylis Ivy added seven carries for 74 yards and a score, Jett Wiseman kicked a 19-yard field goal and Aiden Houston had a pair of catches for 39 yards.

Rock Hill had a game cancelled due to positive COVID-19 tests after it opened the year with a 61-45 loss against Frisco Heritage. The Blue Hawks started 7-5A (II) play with a 51-27 loss against Frisco Liberty.

So far this season Rock Hill has found success on the ground. Donovan Shannon leads the team with 59 carries for 414 yards and five touchdowns while Cox has 38 carries for 267 yards and three touchdowns and Ivy is at 20 carries for 147 yards and two TDs.

Cox has completed 31-of-63 passes for 418 yards and a touchdown with four interceptions.

Houston leads the receivers with 12 catches for 203 yards and a TD and Ryan Threat has eight receptions for 75 yards.

“They’ve got two running backs that are pretty good,” Rogers said. “The quarterback runs, it’s by design. They’ve shown some things in the first month of the season.”

District 7-5A (II)

What: Denison at Prosper Rock Hill

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Radio: KMKT 93.1 FM