Saturday, October 08, 2011

Football Texas Style

Everyone knows that things are bigger in Texas. And the high school football game I attended last night lived up to expectations. Coppell High school at Dallas is one of the largest high schools in Texas and regularly vies for the state championship. When you pull up, you are struck by the size of the complex. A huge scoreboard with graphics and video replay, a stadium with field turf that most colleges would be envious of and a practice facility with an indoor football field. The indoor field was actually used by the Dallas Cowboys when there was a dome collapse at their facility a few years ago. So the sports complex is impressive. I have been to playoff's in Southwest Ohio and the Troy and Mason facilities are some of the best in the area and they pale in comparison to this.

And the whole experience was an event. Both teams took the field running thru inflatable helmets and smoke in the endzones. The home team Coppell Cowboys ran thru a huge banner that looked to be about 25 feet tall. The cheerleaders had to use poles and ropes to hold it up. The halftime show was impressive. The Coppell band had to be at least 200 members strong and generated a wall of sound. Not one, not two, but 4 conductors lead the band. The Lariat drill team in short skirts and dainty cowboy hats did a well choreographed high kicking routine.

Oh yeah there was a football game there too. Fossil Valley Panthers were the visitors. Coppell was starting a sophomore quarterback due to their starting quarterback going down with a knee injury two weeks ago. Both teams ran variations of the spread offense. Coppell used a 3-5 defense and Fossil Valley used a 4-3 defense. As one might expect, Coppell tried to run the ball more with the young quarterback while Fossil Valley was more creative with their offense - even using a halfback pass at one point. They did not utilize a punt team, as the quarterback could also punt. So they just got into a regular spread formation, he took a couple of steps back and quick kicked the ball.

Fossil Valley scored twice to get the early lead. But Coppell was able to make adjustments and after two possessions where they did 3 plays and punted, they finally scored on their third possession when they ran a quarterback keeper and he found a seam for a long run and was finally dragged down at about the 5 yard line. Later they punched the ball in for a score and it was game on from that point. With a bigger line, they were able to get most of the yardage in between the tackles. Mixing in a pass every so often to keep the offense honest.

Coppell gave up a field goal and even a safety. The quarterback had problems with the snap from center several times and that was a thorn in their side as the ball was bobbled and had to hit the ball at least a half dozen times during the night. But they got their third touchdown and the lead in the third quarter. And the score was from a broken play where they drove inside the 10, the snap was bobbled and the quarter scooped it up and drove forward thru a crease in the line and somehow rolled out of a tackle to cross the goal line.

The Coppell defense made a good stand in the fourth quarter – Fossil Valley was in the redzone and they kept them from a touchdown for three plays and failed on a field goal attempt. This allowed Coppell to run out the clock for the remainder of the quarter winning 22-19. All in all I found the quality of play exceptional and it was definitely an event worth watching.

Coppell Cowboy Stadium

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Tri County North took out their frustrations on the Bradford Railroaders on Friday night. The team was still smarting from a disappointing 35-7 loss against Covington last week. The coaching staff would have to be wondering how the team would react on their first game back from an emotional loss. And being homecoming weekend, the Panther fans were even more clamoring for a win. This team still has a lot on the line for themselves, a future Covington loss would mean a chance for a least a tie for the league championship and at last check they were unofficially in 8th place for their district – meaning that they are in the hunt for a state playoff berth. So the Panthers needed to rebound with a win for all these reasons.

On their side of the ledger Bradford already had a thin roster decimated by injury – but had some players suspended from the game. So the North sideline was overflowing with red jerseys, while the Bradford sideline was thin – I don’t think there were even 10 substitutes on the Bradford sideline. Bradford was certainly playing iron man football – no rest for the starters. And with new faces on the field there was a greater chance for mistakes.

Any doubts on the North sideline were quickly erased in the first quarter. North struck first with a 80 yard touchdown pass from Austin Hutchins to Bill Derringer. A stout North defense kept Bradford out of the endzone for most of the game, preventing them from getting any traction. But Bradford had several mistakes at key times that prevented them from taking advantage of opportunities. Early in the second quarter they recovered a fumble at the North 35 yard line. But a critical hold on 4th and 1 put Bradford into long yardage and they had to give up the ball. North took advantage and regained their momentum scoring on a Sam Judd pass reception from Caleb Lawson.

The next Bradford drive was again stopped by penalties – a hold, then an unsportsmanlike as a flustered Bradford offense could not get on track. After a Bradford fumble North scored again on a JJ McPherson run and now things were getting lopsided with North up by 3 scores. Bradford tried a little subterfuge right before the half ended with a fake punt in their own territory. This failed and gave North a short field with about 1:22 left in the half. This was all the time needed for North to find paydirt again as Caleb Lawson caught a 35 yard pass from Austin Hutchins to put North into a commanding lead 28-0.

The second half showed even more that it was not Bradfords night –another fumble and a penalty, and then a snap on a punt went over the punters head who then correctly reacted by kicking the ball out of endzone – denying North the chance of a TD, but gifting them with a safety. About midway thru the 3rd quarter things got a little ugly when a pushing and shoving match drew unsportsmanlikes for both teams and a talking to from the referee’s and coaches to settle both teams down.

North found the endzone 3 times in the second half. JJ McPherson and Michael Olinger (who bull rushed thru several tackles on his 24 yard TD run) both ran the ball in and a Colton Booth to Mark VanBrederode touchdown pass rounded out the scoring for the Panthers. The Bradford offense was able to find the endzone in the 4th quarter as the North first string defense rested on the sidelines and let the reserves finish out the game. Giving an otherwise frustrated Bradford offense some measure of success.

Coach Derringer was asked if the staff was worried about how the team would react after the Covington loss, “Well we were all disappointed about how we got down early and were dominated up front. So we got the whole team and worked on firing off the ball and drive blocking and I think you can see the results of that on Friday night. Austin Hutchins had over 200 yards passing and you can’t do that unless you have an offensive line to protect him. This is the first time in a long time that North has had over 200 yards passing in a game. “

JJ McPherson had 95 yards rushing and a TD. Austin Hutchins threw for 201 yards, 2 TD’s, and was 8 of 13 passing. Billy Derringer had 105 yard receiving and a TD; Caleb Lawson had a TD and 25 yards; Sam Judd also had a TD.

“Now we did get to a slow start against Bradford even though we scored on the second play of the game. But our defense really dominates at home and we held Bradford for three quarters. One of their rushers had over 2000 yards last year and we held him to just 35 yards over 3 quarters. Josh Daughtery our middle linebacker had one of his best games of the year, he had a tremendous night and covered the side to side defense well. JJ McPherson had three tackles for loss at outside linebacker. And the entire defensive line played great – we rotated 6-7 players in there and kept fresh all night.”

Next up is Miami East, who is also coming off of a loss to Covington. “We upset them last year and I know they remember that. But we are playing here at home this year, and this season we are playing good at home. It should be a great ball game.”