PROSPER — For the first time in three decades, there will be no playoff football in Plano ISD.
With Plano East and Plano West having already bowed out of the postseason race, the school district’s hopes rested on Plano Senior, which entered Friday needing a win over second-place Prosper to secure the last playoff spot in District 9-6A.
Instead, the Wildcats were dealt their most lopsided defeat of the season.
It all came in one fell swoop, with Prosper amassing perhaps its most explosive quarter of the year, hanging 34 points on Plano in the second stanza alone — affording the 9-6A runners-up a 34-point halftime cushion that was more than enough to pace the Eagles to a 58-27 victory in their home finale.
“This was just a great job by our defense of getting stops and a great job by the offense of executing,” said Brandon Schmidt, Prosper head coach.
The win elevates the Eagles to the Class 6A Division I bracket for the postseason — a slot that was in play for the Wildcats with a win on Friday. Instead, the last playoff berth in 9-6A will go to McKinney — which edged rival McKinney Boyd on Friday, 10-7 — with Plano’s loss marking the first time since 1989 that PISD will not qualify a football team for the postseason.
“It’s tough. We just told them to keep fighting,” said Jaydon McCullough, Plano head coach. “We were pretty depleted out there, but that’s no excuse. Prosper was the better team, but I still felt like our kids played hard and didn’t quit.”
The Wildcats stumbled to the finish line on a three-game losing streak, a slump that at times felt like a freefall on Friday after Prosper raced out to a 41-7 lead by halftime. The Eagles did so after scoring points on seven consecutive first-half drives, buoyed by three touchdown runs by senior JT Lane and two touchdown passes by senior Jackson Berry.
The first was perhaps the most atypical trip to the end zone by Prosper this season, with Berry rolling right before throwing across the field to senior offensive tackle Jake Majors, lined up as an eligible receiver. The 6-foot-4 Texas commit barreled his way in from 5 yards out for the game’s first points at 7-0 and Prosper was off and running.
“We’ve been working that for a while,” Schmidt said. “When it got called, it caught me by surprise at first, but it was a great play call by [offensive coordinator Tyler Moore].”
Lane found the end zone on Prosper’s next two series on scores of 2 and 24 yards, and later in the frame added a 9-yard touchdown scamper that upped the Eagles’ lead to 35-0 with 4:27 left in the first half. In between, Berry found junior Cameron Harpole for a 12-yard touchdown.
Plano applied a bandage to a bullet wound with 1:48 left in the quarter on its lone touchdown drive of the half, capped by a 25-yard touchdown run by junior Tylan Hines, only for Prosper to sandwich two more scoring drives into those final 108 seconds — both coming on field goals from junior Brad Larson to end a lopsided first half.
“We just wanted to get out of here healthy and playing our best football heading into the playoffs,” Schmidt said. “We wanted to get re-centered and re-focused on trying to win a playoff game.”
With any visions of the postseasons having dissipated well before the halftime horn sounded, the Wildcats conjured many of the miscues that plagued the team’s difficult close to the season. Through two quarters, Plano struggled to establish the run, surrendered a myriad of chunk plays on defense, had a punt snap sail high for a 37-yard loss that set up Prosper inside the Wildcats’ 10-yard line and exited the half on the wrong end of the penalty and turnover battles.
“We just couldn’t grab that momentum. We couldn’t score early and I think that really would have helped us,” McCullough said. “But regardless, it would have taken a lot. That’s a pretty deep team over there.”
Hines turned in a big second half en route to 185 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while junior Oliver Towns threw for a pair of scores — finding senior Nolan Williams on touchdown passes of 32 and 5 yards — and 131 yards.
Prosper was fueled by Lane’s four-score career night, buoyed by 171 rushing yards in the win. Berry completed two-thirds of his passes for 235 yards and two scores, while Harpole led all pass-catchers with four grabs for 73 yards.
Prosper’s reward is a bi-district playoff date with Wylie at a time and place to be determined, while Plano enters the offseason after a 5-5 campaign.
“This is the beginning of six one-week seasons,” Schmidt said. “We have to take it one week at a time and prepare for whoever is in front of us and see what happens.”