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Jackets' closing stretch starts with Frisco

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Denison's Jadarian Price and the Yellow Jackets host Frisco for a District 7-5A (II) showdown on Friday night at Munson Stadium.

The playoffs don’t start for another month but don’t tell that to the Yellow Jackets. They have plans of playing an 11th game this season but in order for that to happen, they need to almost be in elimination mode from here on out.

If the postseason began today, Denison would make it as the fourth seed. But the road ahead has obstacles all around them in the standings to keep them from their goal.

The first comes as the Jackets (4-2, 3-1) host Frisco (5-0, 3-0) in District 7-5A (II) action at Dr. Rene and Eva Gerard Field at Munson Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday.

“We’re going to have to make sure we stick to our game plan. They try to get you out of what you like to do,” Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. “In the past we’ve matched up well with them and they’ve matched up well with us. It should be a great game."

Frisco joins Lovejoy as the only undefeated teams in district play while Denison is one of three teams with one district loss — Frisco Liberty, which has the bye this week, and Princeton, which cancelled its last three games due to COVID-19 but is scheduled to return this week against Frisco Lebanon Trail.

“We’re only focused on Frisco, because that’s the most important game,” Rogers said. “Control the things you can control, especially in a year like this.”

There will be plenty of shifting and Denison will be in the thick of that movement as it plays Lebanon Trail next, Liberty the day after Thanksgiving and Princeton to end the season.

Denison beat Lake Dallas last week, 56-34, overcoming a second-straight slow start. Down 3-0 after the first 12 minutes, the Jackets scored six touchdowns in the middle two quarters and led 49-20 by the middle of the fourth.

“It clicks in surges,” Rogers said. “We’re making big plays but we need to be more consistent.”

Jadarian Price had 164 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, Asa Osbourn added 13 carries for 124 yards and three TDs and the Jackets got a pair of special teams scores — Keleon Vaughn returned a punt 70 yards and Keebler Wagoner blocked a punt that Landon Ellis recovered in the end zone.

Denison was the only team to beat Frisco in the regular season last year with a 10-7 defensive struggle where the teams combined for six turnovers, Denison barely broke 200 total yards and Frisco finished with 165. Osbourn had the deciding touchdown in the third quarter after it was 3-0 at half-time. The Jackets made a fourth-down stop at their 34 with just over three minutes left to seal the win.

“I didn’t expect it to be that way last year. I was really proud of the defense,” Rogers said. “We’ve had some close games with them and been lucky enough to come out on top.”

Frisco enters this match-up ranked No. 5 in the Class 5A Division II statewide rankings, just ahead of Texas High, the team that handed the Jackets their first loss of the season.

Outside of a 17-14 victory against Frisco Independence in the opener, the Raccoons have not had a close game. They ended non-district play with a 31-0 victory against Frisco Reedy and in district action they have beaten Lake Dallas (39-3), Lebanon Trail (45-15) and Frisco Liberty (39-19) before being idle the past two weeks because they were scheduled to play Princeton last Friday following their scheduled bye.

Denison is 2-0 against teams with a double bye due to Princeton’s COVID-19 issues but Frisco is a step up over Memorial and Lake Dallas, who have yet to win a district game between them.

The Raccoons have five players with at least 100 yards rushing and another is a first-down away from triple digits.

None of those rushers includes the quarterback, Caree Green, who has completed 20-of-51 passes for 531 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.

Bradford Martin leads the team with 496 yards and five touchdowns on 49 carries while A.J. Dinota is next at 24 carries for 298 yards and three TDs.

Donta’ Reece and Dylan Hardin each have multiples rushing scores and Green does have four touchdowns despite only 53 yards on 20 carries.

The Raccoons get most of their yards through the air by going to Chase Lowery, who has 10 catches for 293 yards and two TDs. No one else has more than two catches or 74 yards.

The offensive line is led by junior guard Cole Hutson, who is a four-star ranked No. 224 in the country, No. 30 in the state and No. 5 at his position for the Class 0f 2022.

A.J. Yasilli, Drew Johnson and Trent Bryant are the leading tacklers for a defense that has produced 17 sacks, 11 interceptions and five fumble recoveries across five games.

Lowery has four interceptions and the senior, who was the district MVP last season when Frisco went 11-2 and reached the region semifinals, committed to Arkansas over the summer.

District 7-5A (II)

What: Frisco at Denison

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Radio: KMKT 93.1 FM