For a young football team like The Colony, it’s the game within the game that has helped the Cougars build confidence heading into Friday’s District 5-5A Division I opener against Denton at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
In last week’s 24-21 win over North Crowley, it was a goal-line stand in the final two minutes of the first half that showed how far a Cougar team with 17 first-year starters has come along in a short amount of time. The Panthers were denied the end zone on four consecutive rushing attempts. That kept the score tied at 7-7.
“That kind of set the tone for the rest of the game,” said Rudy Rangel, The Colony head coach.
Moments like those serve as a huge building block for a program that lost four NCAA Div. I-bound players in wide receivers Myles Price, Christian Gonzalez, Keith Miller III and defensive lineman Marcus Moore from last year’s playoff team, and for a Cougar team that has to do battle against a loaded field in 5-5A Div. I that includes six playoff teams from a year ago: Denton Ryan, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A Div. I by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, Frisco Lone Star, Frisco Independence, Frisco Reedy, Frisco Wakeland, and The Colony.
Ryan was forced to cancel all of its practices and games for the next two weeks after The Denton Record-Chronicle reported on Tuesday that two positive cases of COVID-19 were discovered within Ryan’s football program, which comes on the heels of a dominant defensive performance by the Raiders in a 23-20 win over a Denton Guyer team that was the state runner-up in 6A Div. II a year ago.
The biggest challenge that awaits The Colony (1-1) this week will be to stop Denton (1-1) sophomore running back Coco Brown in his tracks. All he did last week’s in the Broncos’ 32-16 win over Fort Worth Chisholm Trail was rush for 180 yards on 22 carries with three touchdowns. Nearly half of that total came on the game’s first offensive play when he burst 75 yards for the score.
Rangel said that the contrasting styles of offenses that his Cougars faced during the first two games should benefit The Colony come Friday night. Corsicana (1-1) featured a ground-and-pound approach with a big offensive line in Week One. North Crowley, on the other hand, relied on its speed to break free for yardage.
Rangel complimented the play of senior outside linebacker Kyle Taylor, junior defensive lineman Colby Cox, junior linebacker Khylon Whitehurst and junior safety Shafiq Taylor for their play in last week’s win over North Crowley.
“Kyle Taylor ran to the ball all night long for us,” Rangel said. “He had another big game for us. Khylon Whitehurst had a lot of pressure on the ball. Shafiq played well.”
Like Denton, The Colony received a long touchdown run in the game’s opening minute a week ago. Junior Kione Roberson, an offseason move-in from Trinity Christian-Addison, returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a score. He had 195 all-purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Cougars to the three-point win over the Panthers.
“He is a very special athlete,” Rangel said of Roberson. “Getting the ball in his hands is a great complement to Kam (Wesley) and our other tailbacks. His role will improve as we go forward.”
Rangel said he would like to see more from his passing game as the Cougars threw for just 121 yards against North Crowley, although there were some crucial plays that made a big difference. Senior wide-out Benji Nelson caught three passes with all three resulting in first downs. Shafiq Taylor caught a 53-yard pass from senior quarterback Jonathan Roberson in the second half that led to a touchdown.
"To see the evolution just in a short season already, from COVID-19 to the Mesquite Poteet scrimmage to last week against Corsicana to this week against North Crowley where we won at the end, we're watching a young football team that is growing up,” Rangel said. “We're young and good. It was watching kids playing plays in the fourth quarter that was exciting to me."