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Although Lake Dallas football will be hit hard by graduation, junior Ike Onyekwere, left, will bring experience to the backfield in 2019.

For the third consecutive realignment cycle, the Lake Dallas football team squared off against a brand-new slate of district opponents.

In hindsight, head coach Michael Young lauded the depth of 7-5A Division II compared to previous Falcons districts, and that quality reared its head plenty throughout the 2018 season.

Through it all, Lake Dallas managed to procure a fourth playoff appearance in five years. However, it was the depth of the district that relegated the Falcons to a fourth-place tie and a bi-district bout with 8-5A Div. II champ Corsicana, which spelled a premature end of Lake Dallas’s latest campaign on the gridiron.

“It ended with some disappointment, but overall I feel like it was a really good year. There were some points where I thought we played some really good football and others where we didn’t play as well,” Young said. “… It was a tough task with [Corsicana] having a bye week right before they played us. Corsicana was just a tough matchup, especially on the road.”

That 53-31 loss to the Tigers capped the Falcons’ year at 7-4 overall, the team’s second straight seven-win season. Young reflected on Lake Dallas’s shortcomings against Lovejoy – where the Falcons were tasked with digging out of a 28-0 hole in a 31-27 defeat – and Frisco – where Lake Dallas was held to a season-low in points scored in a 20-6 loss – as games that hindered the team’s ability to further scale the 7-5A Div. II ladder.

In victory, Lake Dallas posted district wins against Princeton (39-31), Denison (52-35), Frisco Memorial (45-20), Denton Braswell (21-16) and Frisco Lebanon Trail (45-10). The Denison decision loomed large in determining the Falcons’ playoff fate and showcased the team at its best in racking up a season-high 52 points scored.

“We scored a lot of points and ranked highly in points scored and yards gained,” Young said. “I think running the football a bit better could have helped us out and that’s just something we have to work on and get better at. But the season Ryan (Depperschmidt) and (Brandon) Engel had was incredible.”

That vaunted quarterback-receiver connection was the heartbeat of the Lake Dallas offense, accounting for 63 completions for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns. No other passer-catcher duo in 7-5A Div. II totaled as much in either passes caught or yards gained through the air.

“They’re right up near the top for what we’ve had at those two positions,” Young said. “They had a great chemistry and connection and now it’s our job to try and find something similar to that next year.”

Defensively, Lake Dallas held regular-season opponents to 26.0 points before surrendering 53 to Corsicana, a game Young said his team got worn down in the second half. The Falcons’ district slate was a tale of two halves, surrendering at least 31 points in consecutive bouts with Reedy, Princeton and Denison before holding four of their final five opponents to 20 points or less.

Much like the offense, that unit figures to have a slew of different contributors in place next season with Lake Dallas tabbed to graduate 32 seniors from its 2018 ensemble – nearly 60 percent of the roster. 

“A bunch of them have been three-year guys here,” Depperschmidt said. “They’ve won a lot of football games and have been to the playoffs, including that big win against Reedy last year. They’re just a good group of kids and they’ll leave a good legacy, not just for their play but how they handle practice and workouts.”

That includes players like Depperschmidt (2,341 passing yards, 682 rushing yards, 33 total touchdowns) – the latest entry into Lake Dallas’s storied quarterback lineage – do-it-all offensive weapon and senior Ky’lee Smith (278 yards rushing, 525 receiving), senior defensive-end-turned-linebacker DL Roberson (100 tackles, seven sacks), veteran senior linebacker Darryl Minor Jr. (97 tackles) and senior Hayden Brockenbush, who played in the trenches on both sides of the ball during his time on varsity.

Filling those voids will be top of mind for Young and Co., as Lake Dallas embarks on its offseason. The head coach mentioned varsity backup and junior Trevor Lindsey, sophomore junior varsity passer Trevor Moon and Engel as initial candidates to tie for Depperschmidt’s heir behind center.

Young also anticipates the possibility of forgoing spring football for a second straight offseason, granting the Falcons more time to prepare in August for what the coach anticipates to be another grueling district campaign.

“We’re losing as many kids as we’ve lost before. It’s a big group to lose and we’ve got quite a few shoes to fill,” Young said. “Several teams in our district are losing their quarterbacks too, so there will be a lot of change. I think it’s going to be tougher. Schools like Braswell, Memorial and Lebanon Trail will all be better.

“We’re going to have to find an answer at quarterback and have a lot to replace up front on defense and that can be a scary situation if you don’t have experience there. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re excited about it and are ready to start competing to get back to the playoffs."

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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