High school football’s 2021 season is officially off and running, and the first week on the gridiron wasn’t lacking in action for 5-6A and 6-6A.
All 15 teams within those two districts completed their season openers — no guarantee, given the handful of games around the area cancelled due to COVID-19-related circumstances — and got to see an offseason’s worth of work put into practice in a meaningful game setting.
As those programs head back to the drawing board to prepare for Week 2, here’s a look around the gridiron between the two bi-district bunkmates.
Only one district in the Metroplex between the 5A and 6A classifications went undefeated during the first week of high school football season. Take a bow, 5-6A.
The seven-team conference not only came away from Week 1 unbeaten in the win-loss column but often did so in resounding fashion. Of the league’s seven victories, five came by at least 26 points and the district’s average margin of victory was 28.4 points.
Outcomes ranged from a competitive Saturday night scrap with McKinney turning away Springdale Har-Ber late for a 35-28 victory all the way up to a 56-10 shellacking at the hands of Little Elm against Hurst L.D. Bell.
Offensively, 5-6A averaged 44.7 points per game while allowing just 16.3 — the latter figure highlighted McKinney Boyd’s 37-0 shutout of Oklahoma’s Midwest City.
Apply the usual caveats for Week 1 — small sample size, varying caliber of opponents, etc. — but it’s nevertheless a strong start for what was already shaping up to be one of the more competitive top-to-bottom districts in the area.
Between 5-6A and 6-6A, there wasn’t much in terms of proven starting experience at quarterback heading into the 2021 season. Passers like Little Elm’s John Mateer and Flower Mound’s Nick Evers began last season as a starting quarterback and never relinquished that post, whereas others like Hebron’s Jacob Buniff, Boyd’s Ryan Shackleton, Plano West’s Vance Feuerbacher and even Marcus’ Jaxxon Warren all started a portion of their team’s games last season despite entering the year as a backup.
Not only was there a litany of new faces behind center last week between these two districts but several were underclassmen. Allen (Mike Hawkins), Plano East (Drew Devillier), Lewisville (Ethan Terrell) and McKinney (Trever Ham) all started as sophomores last week, with Marcus sophomore Cole Welliver also seeing time against Jesuit.
Early returns were positive — Devillier threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-30 attempts opposite Hawkins, who went 15-of-21 for 204 yards and a touchdown. Terrell found the end zone twice, once through the air and another on the ground, and completed 7-of-9 balls for 82 yards, and Ham threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns in his debut.
In addition to four sophomores starting at quarterback between 5-6A and 6-6A, only four seniors (Mateer, Evers, Buniff and Warren) began the season as their team’s starter at the position.
One of the more eye-popping outcomes around the area last week emanated from Wylie ISD Stadium where Plano West ultimately cruised past Wylie for a 49-32 victory. Convincing as the final score wound up being, the Wolves trailed in this contest 32-7 with 11:45 left in the third quarter before closing the game with 42 consecutive points.
For context’s sake, the last time West scored at least 49 points in a ballgame came Nov. 13, 2014 against Keller (66-41) — the team’s last playoff win. But even taking into account the heydays of the program, 42 points in a half is rarified air for the Wolves.
As one might expect, the offense came in droves during West’s comeback. That unit was responsible for five scoring drives during the second half — required just 12 plays to amass 254 yards and five touchdowns
Big plays were en vogue with quarterback Vance Feuerbacher scoring on a 62-yard run and running back Dermot White later adding touchdown runs of 66 and 67 yards.
The Wolves totaled 262 yards in the second half versus just 92 for Wylie, which still managed to finish the night with 466 yards total. As the Pirates’ offensive output slipped, they were held out of the end zone over the final 23:45 of Friday’s game — losing two fumbles, turning the ball over on downs twice and punting three times over that span.
One of those lost fumbles directly led to West’s final points of the night with Eli Smith scoring a special teams touchdown with 1:51 left in the game.
There were plenty of standout defensive performances to go around in Week 1 between 5-6A and 6-6A, but let’s zero in on a pair of lockdown efforts by Lewisville and Denton Guyer.
The Farmers handed Arlington Bowie its most lopsided loss since November 2017 in a 50-7 blowout, while the Wildcats continued to torment Hebron to the tune of a 46-17 rout.
Although the parting sight of Lewisville’s 2020 season, a 68-0 loss to Arlington Martin, was a rough look, the Farmers had turned in some encouraging results on defense over the back half of their regular season. Friday’s throttling of a Bowie team that has qualified for the playoffs 14 of the last 15 years was another step in the right direction.
On the Farmers’ first defensive snap pf the season, linebacker Ke’Marion Jones, playing with a cast due to a hand injury, logged a tackle for a loss that resulted in a safety. Lewisville cruised from that point forward, slowing Bowie to myriad punts and turnovers on downs. Despite not forcing a takeaway in the win, the Farmers still managed to hold the Volunteers out of the end zone until 24 seconds remained in the fourth quarter.
Guyer, meanwhile, hoarded turnovers like a rare currency — recovering three fumbles and intercepting a Hebron deep ball in the first quarter that effectively got the ball rolling on an emphatic performance by the Wildcats’ defense.
Hebron’s efforts to work a short passing game were snuffed out time and time again by Peyton Brown and the Guyer secondary, which blew up multiple screen passes by the Hawks. Often baited in long-yardage downs, Hebron wasn’t afforded much cushion with its pass protection with players like Vincent Paige wreaking havoc in the Hebron backfield.
It was quite the statement by a Guyer squad that expects to be improved after a full offseason under head coach Rodney Webb. On the other side, the Hawks had just 12 yards of offense to show for their first half and trailed by as many as 43 points in a rough start to the 2021 season.
Through one week, 6-6A accounts for the area’s stat leaders in 6A in rushing and receiving, as well as the second-highest mark in passing.
Plano East’s Ismail Mahdi authored some anxious moments for a packed home side of Eagle Stadium Friday night in Allen, logging 233 rushing yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. The first of many highlight moments by the Panthers’ star running back came on a 72-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter.
Mahdi was one of three running backs between 5-6A and 6-6A to eclipse 200 yards on the ground in their season opener. His counterpart on Friday, Allen’s Jaylen Jenkins, had a career night in amassing 204 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries (good for almost 23 yards per carry) as well as a 94-yard kickoff return touchdown. Meanwhile, Plano West’s Dermot White was plenty explosive in his own right in rushing for 214 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.
Ditto for Coppell’s Dylan Nelson, who scored four touchdowns to help the Cowboys take down Sachse in their opener. Nelson caught seven passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns — 47 yards more than the area’s second-leading receiver in Marcus’ Dallas Dudley, whose night included nine receptions for 199 yards and a score.
Fittingly enough, both the Coppell and Marcus quarterbacks ranked among the area’s passing leaders. Marauders’ signal-caller Jaxxon Warren tallied 407 passing yards and four touchdowns, finishing just 2 yards behind area leader Jacob Porter of Keller Timber Creek despite attempting 19 fewer passes. Coppell quarterback Jack Fishpaw checked in at No. 4 in the area after amassing 344 passing yards and four touchdowns in his varsity debut.
McKinney’s Trever Ham (301 yards, sixth) and Flower Mound’s Nick Evers (275 yards, eighth) also cracked the area’s top 10 passers.