Sachse’s first meeting with Plano East back in Week 3 this season left a bad taste in their mouth.
In a game slowed by weather delays, the Mustangs and Panthers were tied 7-7 in the third quarter when things came unglued for Sachse, as Plano East took control and went on to a 29-7 victory.
The Mustangs (7-3) have not lost since, reeling off seven consecutive victories en route to the 10-6A championship and they are determined to show they are a different team when they get their rematch with the Panthers (8-2) in a Class 6A Division I bi-district playoff game at 7 p.m. tonight at Homer B. Johnson Stadium.
The biggest change for Sachse has been its ability to establish an identity on offense. The Mustangs were somewhat lost through the first month of the season, largely due to injuries and inconsistency at quarterback.
They made an adjustment midseason to become more of a run-based team and that got them pointed in the right direction and since moving wide receiver Derrick Rose to quarterback, they have taken off.
Rose (30-323, 6 TDs) adds just one more explosive element to a deep rushing attack that already featured playmakers with Myles Nash (64-619, 10 TDs), Torey Washington (61-481, 3 TDs) and KJ Williams (65-481, 7 TDs).
Sachse is averaging 6.4 yards per carry on the season and rolled up more than 400 yards on the ground in last week’s 48-0 rout of rival Rowlett.
Rose has not been asked to throw the ball much, but he has been effective when called upon. He has completed 26-of-39 passes for 526 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging better than 20 yards per completion.
The Mustangs have been able to get their receivers open in space and Cameron Cromer (18-181, 2 TDs), Trent Dean (17-312, 7 TDs), Nash (12-152) and Chase Cromer (9-164, 2 TDs) have taken advantage.
Plano East will also be seeing a different look in the trenches. Sachse started three sophomores on the offensive line and it took them some time to gel, but they have come on strong. Last week, they recorded 21 knockdowns, including six by Le’Trei Harris, in a dominating effort.
The Panthers stymied Sachse in the first meeting, allowing a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and then nothing more, forcing three turnovers along the way.
Plano East has had to battle through some injury issues. They gave up only 11 points per game during their 5-0 start, but have surrendered 43.6 points in the five outings since.
Part of that can be attributed to the schedule getting tougher, but the Panthers have also continued to win because they can turn to one of the most high-powered offenses in the area.
Brandon Mallory is one of the top quarterbacks in the state, having thrown for more than 2,900 yards and 34 touchdowns. Jaelen Anderson had 60 receptions and 14 touchdowns, Braylon Henderson has 50 catches and Josh Allison is averaging 28.7 yards per reception with 11 scores.
Though not the focal point, Trey-Scott Jones is able to keep defenses honest, averaging better than six yards per carry with nine touchdowns.
It sets up a great challenge for a Sachse defense that has held five of its last six opponents to nine points or less, including last week’s shutout, where they allowed only 102 yards of offense.
The secondary tasked with containing the Plano East passing attack is a good one. The Mustangs use several different players in the unit, which is led by Braylen Brooks, who has nine interceptions, including three which he has returned for touchdowns, and Micah Buchanan, who also has a pick-6 this season.
Bryce Robinson (79 tackles, 9 TFL) is the heart of the defense in the middle, where they have also gotten good play from James Whyte (59 tackles, 6 TFL) and Jordan Brooks (53 tackles, 6 TFL).
Where Sachse might have the advantage is on the line. Despite the loss of Notre Dame commitment Hunter Spears, the Mustangs have been able to control the line of scrimmage with Clark Yarbrough (9 TFL), Ryan Jones (4 TFL0, Josh Stafford (6 TFL), Jack Forthman (4 TFL) and others.
If they are able to take away the Plano East ground game and make them one-dimensional, it could help shift the scales.
Plano East is looking for its first playoff victory since 2009, while Sachse is looking to follow on a year ago, when they advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time in program history.