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Lake Dallas junior Brandon Engel was among the area leaders in receiving yards in 2018, ending his season with 1,134.

There was no shortage of intrigue surrounding the Lake Dallas football team in 2018.

The Falcons embarked on a brand-new district landscape with their realignment into Class 5A Division II and sported one of their most experienced rosters to date. The result was a return to the playoffs and a bi-district exit that was prefaced with plenty of noteworthy storylines.

With the final snap of Lake Dallas football in the books, it’s time to reflect on the year that was on the gridiron with two things we liked and didn’t like about Falcons football in 2018.

Depperschmidt-Engel connection impresses

Matt Welch: Heading into the 2018 season, plenty was placed on the shoulders of Lake Dallas’s vaunted quarterback-receiver tandem of senior Ryan Depperschmidt and junior Brandon Engel.

The two didn’t disappoint, accounting for 63 completions for 1,134 yards this season – a higher mark than any passer-catcher duo in District 7-5A Division II.

Depperschmidt, who earned an Offensive Player of the Year all-district accolade as a junior, finished his season among the area’s leaders in passing with 2,377 yards and 21 touchdowns and once again led the Falcons in rushing with 667 yards and 12 more scores.

Engel’s aforementioned receiving yardage total sat at No. 3 in the Metroplex among Class 5A pass-catchers. The dynamic receiver tallied at least six receptions in six games this season – highlighted by a 13-catch effort against Lovejoy – and had five games of at least 100 yards receiving.

Fittingly enough, head coach Michael Young said Engel is among the offseason candidates who will vie to take over Depperschmidt behind center next season.

Falcons struggle against Frisco

Matt Welch: For all of the Falcons’ offensive wizardry in 2018, averaging 386.2 yards and 33.3 points per game, Lake Dallas had no answer for a smothering defensive effort against Frisco on Oct. 11.

The Raccoons, winless in 2017, held the Falcons to a mere six points on 214 yards of offense in a 20-6 setback – just the third time Lake Dallas had been held to single-digit points since 2013.

Frisco held the Falcons out of the end zone all ballgame, with sophomore kicker Anthony Patti converting field goals of 17 and 27 yards for Lake Dallas’s only points. In between, the Falcons struggled to establish the run, particularly in short-yardage situations, and logged a mere 6.0 yards per pass.

The loss carried consequences late in the season, helping relegate Lake Dallas to fourth place in 7-5A Div. II and secure a road trip to top-seeded Corsicana in an eventual 53-31 defeat. The Falcons were the only playoff team from their district to not advance past the bi-district round.

Postseason consistency

Taylor Raglin: Despite moving into a parity-filled conference in 7-5A Div. II, which included second-round participant Lovejoy, a surprise turnaround in Frisco and a legitimate state power in Frisco Reedy, not to mention solid programs Denison and Princeton, the Falcons punched their ticket to the 5A postseason for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in the last five campaigns.

Prior to missing out in 2013, the program had made 11 straight trips to the dance, and Depperschmidt and company largely maintained that tradition of success. Depperschmidt and the Falcons’ offense overcame some defensive woes at points this season en route to a 7-4 overall record, scoring 40 or more points in five outings and 25 or more in three more.

While the Falcons’ run ended in a 53-31 road setback at Corsicana in this fall’s bi-district round, the program has been one of the area’s more consistent participants in the elimination rounds over the last decade.

Uncertainty ahead

Taylor Raglin: Still, though Lake Dallas seems to nearly always find a way to earn one of its league’s fourth postseason berths, the program will suffer from some tremendous turnover heading into 2019.

Notably, the Falcons will lose their stalwart under center in Depperschmidt, who amassed 2,377 yards through the air and notched 21 touchdowns against 10 interceptions and tallied another dozen scores on the ground to go along with 667 rushing yards.

Lake Dallas will also graduate six of its 10 other rushing scores when seniors Ky’lee Smith (four) and Darryl Minor (two) walk across the stage. Smith was also the program’s second-leading receiver behind Engel, and other wideouts Braeden Caine, CJ Broadway and Ryan Hull will also hang up their winged helmets.

On defense, Minor also played a key role, as did senior lineman Hayden Brockenbush and impactful linebacker DL Roberson.

While junior running back Ike Onyekwere will return alongside Engel, who may be called upon to take over under center despite a prolific receiving year, the Falcons will have some big holes to fill before the first kickoff of 2019.

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

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