Consider it a budding rivalry.
Even though Lake Dallas and Denton aren’t in the same district, much less the same division in Class 5A, when they line up across from each other, the competitive nature of their games over the last four years has added extra fire to the fuel.
Expect more of the same Friday night when Lake Dallas hosts Denton in the season opener for both teams. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Falcon Stadium.
"They're always a good first game for us because they're big and athletic, probably more big and athletic than anyone in our 5A Division II district,” said Michael Young, Lake Dallas head football coach. “It's a good matchup. I know they enjoy playing us."
Young said Denton has nine starters returning on both offense and defense.
Lake Dallas is less experienced, but Young said his Falcons have more depth than last year, and players like senior linebacker Patrick Wenger, a reigning all-district second-team selection on defense, are ready to lead the way for a squad that has playoff aspirations after finishing last season with a record of 3-7.
Last year’s game produced the closest finish in the series between the two Denton County schools. Denton tied the game on a 75-yard pass play and subsequent two-point conversion with 1:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, then won the game in overtime with a field goal to escape with a 37-34 win.
It was the Broncos’ third win in four years over the Falcons. Denton won the 2016 matchup by a final score of 42-28. The Broncos defense put up a strong effort in a 20-15 win in 2017. Lake Dallas’ lone win in this rivalry came in 2018 when the Falcons outlasted the Broncos, 46-28.
Big plays allowed by Lake Dallas’ defense aided Denton’s cause last year. In addition to the 75-yard touchdown pass, the Broncos also had two or three long runs.
Perhaps the biggest difference in the game was the play of Denton’s special teams.
The Broncos returned a block punt for a touchdown, blocked a short field goal and also forced the Falcons to start drives on their own 10-yard line on a couple of occasions because of indecisiveness by Lake Dallas to return kickoffs out of the end zone instead of settling for touchbacks.
“Special teams were just a real disaster last year,” Young said. “It was a big problem. That part of it has got to be better. We've worked on some things that we did wrong. Special teams are sometimes an issue early in the year. But, we’ve got to get better."
One encouraging sign for Lake Dallas heading into Friday’s game is the versatility of its quarterbacks.
Young hasn’t named a starter for Friday’s season opener against Denton, but every player who is involved in the competition to earn the starting job at quarterback is expected to receive playing time somewhere on offense.
Senior Trevor Moon, the reigning starter, threw the ball well in Lake Dallas’ intersquad scrimmage on Sept. 12 and also caught a 25-yard pass from junior Brendan Sorsby while playing at tight end. Senior Trevor Morgan gives the Falcons a third option at quarterback.
“Last year, we didn't score in the inter-squad scrimmage or our preseason scrimmage at Azle,” Young said. “The first two weeks, we didn't score. Our first offensive score came against Denton. We were able to score some points and move the ball and get some big plays in the passing game with all of our quarterbacks in this year’s intersquad scrimmage. That was exciting to see. Hopefully we'll see more of that during the year, which should help us.”