The past week was a wild one in District 6-6A, with Hebron and Plano announcing cancellations of the next two games on their respective schedules due to COVID-19 issues within both programs.
In a league where district wins are the ultimate currency in determining the four playoff teams, not being able to play two of a potential seven district ballgames is significant.
While the temporary shutdowns mean Plano and Hebron will miss two games apiece, four other teams (Coppell, Lewisville, Marcus and Plano East) are impacted as well — missing one game each due to being scheduled to play either the Hawks or Wildcats during their shutdowns.
That leaves Plano West and Flower Mound as only two teams in 6-6A currently unimpeded by a COVID-19-related cancellation. Fittingly enough, the Wolves and Jaguars square off at 7 p.m. Friday from Neal Wilson Stadium in a matchup that could loom large in the growingly cluttered 6-6A playoff picture.
West is currently 2-2 in district play opposite a 1-3 Flower Mound squad. Although these two programs trended in opposite directions to begin the conference schedule, the gap has narrowed with the Jaguars coming off their most dominant performance of the season in last week’s 63-21 blowout of Plano East.
Flower Mound entered the ballgame averaging just 17.8 points per game but erupted for 63 points scored in just three quarters against the winless Panthers. Junior quarterback Nick Evers was at the center of the onslaught, enjoying the best game of his first varsity campaign after throwing for 452 yards and four touchdowns. He had quite the connection with junior receiver Parker Clark, who accrued 234 receiving yards and three touchdowns, while junior Cade Edlein went over 100 receiving yards in the win as well.
Evers, who has multiple Division I offers, averaged a staggering 12.2 yards per pass in the win and offered more than enough support for a defense that has held five of its seven opponents to 21 points or less in regulation this season. SMU commit and senior Stone Eby helms that side of the ball up front.
Just as Flower Mound looks to build off its newfound momentum, West has its sights on getting untracked after a 46-24 setback against state-ranked, undefeated Marcus. Despite some early success against the Marauders, including some early pressure on LSU commit and quarterback Garrett Nussmeier by junior Josiah Shelley and the defense, plus a 38-yard touchdown run by sophomore Dermot White, West let an early 7-0 lead slip after the Marauders scored on four of their next five offensive series.
The 46 points allowed doubled as a season high surrendered by a West defense that had allowed just 18.5 points per game beforehand.
The Wolves also wound up on the wrong end of the turnover margin, 2-0, in what was senior quarterback Greg Draughn’s first multi-interception game of the season. He and West look to return to form behind an offense that has received key contributions in recent weeks from White, who made his second start of the season against Marcus as senior Tabren Yates remains sidelined with a quad injury. He ran for 72 yards and a touchdown.
The most storied rivalry in Plano ISD football will have to wait until 2021 to be renewed.
Plano announced on Nov. 12 that it would be cancelling its next two games as a result of a positive COVID-19 test within its football program, which nixed both last week’s game against Lewisville and Friday’s contest against rival Plano East from the schedule.
This marks the first time since 1981 that the Wildcats and Panthers won’t square off on the football field.
“I was disappointed. One of our goals was to get 10 ballgames in. We’ve been working our tails off and have had our own guys who have been quarantined,” said Joey McCullough, East head coach. “It’s another opportunity for our kids and seniors to play. No matter what our record is right now, it’s an opportunity to play and we’re blessed to just be able to do that.
“I think it’s one of the best rivalries. To me, it’s just another opportunity for these kids and seniors to play. It would have been nice to have that.”
McCullough has been around PISD’s most storied rivalry long before assuming duties as the Panthers’ head coach, having played for the first East team to defeat Plano back in 1985.
“I think back to all the years of driving around Plano and seeing maroon and white, as well as black and gold stuff tied around trees and light poles,” he said. “To me, that was one of the things where even though it was Plano East vs. Plano, it really galvanized the whole city like no other when we played.”
This year’s game would have been Plano head coach Todd Ford’s first foray into the rivalry, as he and the Wildcats were last seen posting their first win of the season, a 42-38 thriller against Hebron. East, meanwhile, is 0-7.
“There are a lot of great memories from that game. It’s a shame we’re not getting to play it,” McCullough said.