With the pageantry of homecoming in the air, the McKinney football team put together a bounce-back performance against Plano West following last week’s disappointing performance against Plano Senior.
Behind a dominant defensive effort, which produced three first-half turnovers, a safety and a fourth-down stand, the Lions were able to cruise to a 29-14 homecoming victory over the Wolves. With the win, McKinney (1-3, 3-4) grabs its first victory in District 9-6A action while extending West’s (0-4, 0-7) losing streak to 33 games.
McKinney turned two West turnovers into 14 first-half points to grab a 21-7 halftime lead and give the team its second wire-to-wire victory this season.
“Any time you can get a win in this district it’s important because it is a very good football district and any team can beat any team. This time of the year, it’s going to come down to who is playing the hardest and making the least mistakes and we are glad we did that tonight,” said Marcus Shavers, McKinney head coach. “We didn’t play as good as I wished we would have, but we are going to celebrate the win and go back and fix what we need to tomorrow to get ready for a really good Plano East team. Our defensive unit and staff made adjustments and answered the bell tonight and must continue answering the bell if we are going to win games and get back into the playoff race.”
McKinney’s maligned defense, which surrendered 56 points in last week’s loss to Plano, set the tone for the Lions from the opening series when senior defensive back Datron Brooks picked off West’s Andrew Picco on the fifth play of the game. On the return, Brooks made five Wolves miss and returned the interception 55 yards for the highlight-reel score.
On the night, McKinney’s dominant defense held West under 220 total yards with only 84 yards coming through the air after giving up over 300 total yards last week against Plano by halftime.
“Coach was harping on starting fast. I came into the game with a lot of energy and saw the ball, made a play on it and was able to use that energy to take it all the way back,” Brooks said. “We practiced hard all week and it was a really big deal to set the right tone tonight after struggling last week, and to do it homecoming week in front of our fans makes it even more special. Now, we’ve got to go back to practice and take things one week at a time and keep doing what we did tonight.”
On offense, despite uncharacteristically turning the ball over three times, McKinney was able to produce 386 yards of total offense, led by senior receiver Isaiah Wallace’s 11-catch, 101-yard performance. Wallace’s 26-yard touchdown reception from sophomore Sampson Nazarko gave McKinney a 14-point lead at 21-7 midway through the second quarter and the cushion needed to cruise to victory in the second half.
The senior wideout has now caught 25 passes for 246 yards over his last two games.
“This win is big because we were facing a lot of adversity and we needed this win to give ourselves hope about getting into this playoff hunt,” Wallace said. “It’s disrespect that they keep single covering me, but I’m going to show them every week why they should be doubling me. If we can keep putting all three phases together, I know we will be alright.”
Even in defeat, all was not doom and gloom for the Wolves. In second half, despite allowing McKinney short fields three times, they were able to hold the Lions to eight total points — highlighted by a defensive effort that produced two fumbles and an interception, including Deijon Jefferson’s 92-yard swoop and score fumble return late in the fourth quarter for the 29-14 final.
“It continues to be frustrating not being able to get over the hump. We’ve been putting ourselves in position starting with Plano (Senior), then Boyd and now tonight, and in each of those games we’ve turned the ball over a lot and that creates a tough hole to get out of,” said Tyler Soukup, West head coach. “I couldn’t be prouder of our kids, especially our defense which bowed their neck in the second half each time we gave them the short field. They are a really explosive offense and our defense did great to only allow them two field goals and that safety in the second half.”