Last year, the first-ever meeting between the Plano Senior and El Paso Eastwood was billed as a rare encounter between El Paso and Dallas football. Thursday’s meeting takes on the backdrop as one of the state’s most high-profile meetings in Week Two.
On Aug. 15, citing safety concerns and timing related to the El Paso mass shooting in August, allegedly committed by Plano alum Patrick Crusius at a Walmart just a few miles from the Eastwood campus, Plano ISD cancelled the Plano-Eastwood rematch. The decision gained statewide attention and backlash, and 24 hours later, PISD reinstated the game for Thursday in Frisco.
WFAA will broadcast the game live, as well as stream it on its digital platforms, which will appear on 11 TEGNA-owned station websites throughout the state.
On a night where unity and healing are at the forefront, both Plano and Eastwood seek their first win of the season after a pair of rough showings in Week One. The Troopers were shut out by El Paso Americas, 63-0, and the Wildcats lost to Hebron, 53-26, in a game they at one point trailed 46-0.
Plano totaled just 17 yards across its first eight series and committed two turnovers that were returned for touchdowns.
They’ll hope for better fortunes against an Eastwood defense that returns only three starters from last season. The Troopers sport a bit more experience on offense, particularly with quarterback Christian Castaneda, who passed for 355 yards in last year’s meeting against Plano.
The signal-caller is the centerpiece of an up-tempo Eastwood attack that out-snapped Plano, 105-23, in the teams’ first encounter. That disparity came partly due to the ease in which the Wildcats scored — Plano’s offense accounted for 60 of the team’s 72 points, despite just 23 offensive snaps — although that fatigued the defense as the eventual 72-48 contest wore on.
Matt’s Pick: Plano by 21
Plano East vs. Lake Highlands
Friday, 8:30 p.m. at Cotton Bowl
The Panthers were lackluster in an overtime loss to Hurst L.D. Bell last week, and they had injury added to insult for their trouble – senior running back Trey Jones-Scott hasn’t practiced this week with an ankle issue and isn’t expected to suit up for Friday’s contest with Lake Highlands.
That leaves No. 1 back duties to sophomore David Johnson, who rushed for just 19 yards on five carries a week ago. Senior signal-caller Ryan Foust, who East head coach Joey McCullough said is still the program’s starter under center despite a strong showing from fellow senior Donovan Henry and who had 40 yards on the ground against the Blue Raiders, will share the load.
The pair will be tasked with going up against what McCullough said is a stout defensive front and a senior-laden Lake Highlands squad, in general, that McCullough and the Panthers expect to be more run-heavy than the iteration of the Wildcats East blew out a season ago.
The Panthers will have to regain their defensive footing after giving up 209 yards on the ground to the triple-option last week, as Mitch Coulson (109 yards rushing on 23 attempts in Lake Highlands’ 21-6 loss to Mesquite last week) and Noelle Whitehead (87 yards) lead a Wildcat attack on the ground that produced 259 yards on the turf in their opener.
Though the Panthers are still optimistic about their run game behind a big offensive line, the opening-week’s bevy of costly and youthful mistakes will need to be cleaned up to come out ahead in what should be a much more competitive game than the one inside the Cotton Bowl a season ago.
Taylor’s Pick: East by 3
Flower Mound at Plano West
Friday, 7 p.m. at Clark Stadium
Taylor Raglin: Though West was more competitive than expected in its Week One loss to Frisco Reedy, the Wolves will get a look at one of the area’s premier 6A squads when Flower Mound comes to town Friday.
The Jaguars, led by the dynamic duo of quarterback Blake Short and running back Pierce Hudgens, put 55 on Keller Fossil Ridge to open 2019, including 27 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull away. Short and Hudgens contributed to a 500-yard night for the Jaguar attack, as Short threw for 347 yards and five scores and Hudgens rumbled for 121 and a pair of touchdowns.
Tyler Soukup certainly has West, which led Reedy, 7-3, at the half in last week’s opener, trending in the right direction, as the Wolves gave up just 221 yards to the 5A powerhouse. However, senior quarterback Andrew Picco, the West offense and its lone Week-One touchdown haven’t shown enough to prove they can keep up with the finely tuned Flower Mound machine.
The Wolves may sneak up on someone this season and snap their two-plus-season losing streak, but it likely won’t come at the expense of the Jaguars, who have legitimate aspirations for another District 6-6A crown and an extended postseason run.
Taylor’s Pick: Flower Mound by 24
Allen vs. Dickinson
Friday, 7 p.m. at Eagle Stadium
Matt Welch: One week removed from taking down Dallas-area powerhouse Cedar Hill, 41-28, Allen welcomes one of the Houston area’s more formidable foes in a first-ever meeting with the Gators. Dickinson enters the matchup ranked No. 13 in the state following a 51-14 pasting of Richmond George Ranch, while the Eagles’ double-digit win bumped them up a spot to No. 3 in Class 6A.
“They have a great program that has won lots of football games and has great tradition,” said Terry Gambill, Allen head coach. “They’re very athletic and big. It’s a pretty senior-heavy football team that’s very dangerous.”
The Gators are fresh off a 10-win season and have plenty of experience back from that ball club, including all-state, dual-threat quarterback Mike Welch, who totaled 3,428 yards and 45 touchdowns last season.
“He can throw and run, and when he runs, he’ll run like a running back,” Gambill said.
Welch has an experienced target on the outside in 6-foot-3 pass-catcher Darryl Harris, who caught nearly 1,000 yards last season, plus a defense that returns eight all-district selections, including four first-teamers in the secondary and four defensive linemen.
Based out of a 3-4, the Gators aren’t lacking in size in the trenches, with players like Victor Idusuyi (6-0, 295) and Derrick Martin (5-10, 280) offering another formidable test for Allen’s young offensive line.
That unit managed to keep senior quarterback Raylen Sharpe upright for much of the Cedar Hill contest to the tune of just one sack allowed. That helped Allen’s offense hum to the tune of 543 yards, including 453 and four total touchdowns for Sharpe in his first start behind center.
Passing for 319 yards, Sharpe spread his production around to six different receivers, including big nights for juniors Blaine and Bryson Green and senior Darrion Sherfield, while the Eagles’ defense stuffed Cedar Hill’s run game to the tune of 3.0 yards per carry.
Matt’s Pick: Allen by 13