MESQUITE – The McKinney North football team captured the program’s first-ever outright district title Friday, getting a 42-0 run from a 21-21 tie on its way to a 63-21, Senior-Night-spoiling road win over Mesquite Poteet.
“It’s everything,” said Mike Fecci, North head coach. “You make goals in the offseason – every program does that. To make a goal that these guys set out for way back in December and to work to it and have it come true for them, I can’t speak enough about our guys and how they believe in what we do.”
Poteet entered the game with a chance to share the District 7-5A Division I title and be the league’s No. 1 seed in the Class 5A postseason with a head-to-head win, and that result looked like a possibility in the early going.
The teams traded scores in the first, leaving the game knotted at 14 late in the frame. Shortly after, chaos reigned, as Poteet recovered back-to-back Bulldog fumbles just before the clock rolled over into the second, though the Pirates couldn’t capitalize on either.
That failure to cash in would prove critical, as North would get a takeaway of its own on a Poteet fumble and convert it into a score from senior Emanuel Fincher. Though Poteet would tie the game at 21 on a long touchdown run from junior Xzaveon Jeans, North would score 21 unanswered points to close out the half and enter intermission with a 42-21 lead.
“It was a heck of a ballgame until late in the second quarter,” said Rodney McLain, Poteet head coach. “We didn’t capitalize on a couple of things, and they did, and that’s kind of where it slowly started getting out of hand. Third quarter, same thing.”
Though the Pirates fell short of a title, McLain said the general message following the blowout was to move on quickly and prep for the postseason. They’ll need to lean on athletes like junior Jaylond Police, Jeans and senior Jailyn Graham should they continue to be without senior Seth McGowan, who missed Friday’s game with a lingering MCL injury.
“We’ve actually got a pretty dang good run game,” McLain said. “They did some stuff up front that actually kind of hurt us and that we hadn’t seen a ton of (as far as) movement up front. … We just couldn’t make the on-field, physical adjustments that needed to be made.”
North would open the second half with a rushing score from sophomore Jayden Smith, who got his own rebound on a 1-yard run to make it 48-21 after a long run from the sophomore got North inside the five.
The Bulldogs would tack on three more scores in the third quarter, ballooning their run to the final count of 42 unanswered points.
While the offensive effort was no surprise for an explosive North side, Fecci said he was pleased with his defense’s effort against the Pirates, even in the absence of the explosive McGowan.
“They’ve come a million miles, and they still have a long way to go. That’s the beauty of it right now,” he said. “Our offense hasn’t peaked yet, believe it or not, in our opinion, and our defense is consistently getting better. We feel like we’re playing hot football at the right time of year, and we’re going to need to.”
North finished with 647 yards of offense, 426 of which came from the arm of senior signal-caller Dillon Markiewicz, who threw for four scores and no interceptions and ran for two more touchdowns. Fincher finished with 135 yards and two touchdowns, while senior Noah Ford and junior JJ Henry had huge nights receiving, tallying 168 and 137 yards, respectively. Henry had two touchdown catches, as did senior Brandon Frazier.
For Poteet Graham and Jeans had 76 and 74 yards, respectively.
With the win, the Bulldogs earned the No. 1 seed in the conference and a date with the No. 4 seed out of 8-5A DI. North, now 9-1, will look to engineer its best postseason run since a state-quarterfinal appearance in 2014.
“Enjoy the heck out of this one, first of all,” Fecci said. “I’ve done this a long time, and I haven’t won many of these. … The message in the morning is going to be, ‘Now, let’s go.’ Now what do you really want to go do?”
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