Football looks to clinch playoff spot at Denison

After jumping off to an early lead and surviving a late comeback effort a week ago, the football team (6-1 overall, 5-1 district) will hit the road to take on the Denison Yellow Jackets (5-3, 4-2) at 7 p.m. in the penultimate game of the regular season.

With a plethora of playoff possibilities still remaining, head coach Todd Ford said he would like for his team to take care of business, as a victory would clinch his team a playoff spot.

“We haven’t locked up a playoff spot yet, and I don’t like getting ahead of ourselves too much,” Ford said. “I feel good about where we are [in the standings]. What’s at stake tonight is an opportunity for our team to continue to grow and focus on consistency.”

Similarly to the Leopards, the Yellow Jackets find themselves right in the thick of the playoff hunt, and a Denison win tonight would force the two teams to be tied for the second seed in the district.

Denison is the only team this season averaging more points per game than the Leopards heading into a matchup. Ford said the Yellow Jacket offense prides itself on tempo.

“They run plays faster than probably anyone in the state of Texas,” Ford said. “The time between plays is fractional. We’re talking probably seven to eight seconds. That’s allowing them to wear down opponents and break a simple play into a long game. It will really challenge the grit of our football team.”

Ford also highlighted the Yellow Jackets’ tendency to run the ball.

“They only want to throw the ball eight to ten times per game, whereas we can throw the ball eight to ten times in one series.”

On the other side of the pigskin, Denison is allowing just shy of 30 points per game.

Sophomore receiver Luke Mayfield, who had four receptions in last week’s 31-27 victory over Lake Dallas, explained the Yellow Jackets’ defensive scheme.

“They play a cover two with the outside linebacker dropping to the middle of the field,” Mayfield said. “We need to spread them out from sideline to sideline.”

The Leopard offense lit up the scoreboard early against Lake Dallas by grabbing an early 28-0 lead a week ago. However, the Falcons bounced back and managed to trim the deficit to just four points halfway through the fourth quarter. The Falcons even had a chance to win the game as time expired, but junior defensive lineman Sean Sumners sacked the quarterback and sealed the Leopard victory.

“I was thinking that me and my brothers had put in all the hard work during the offseason,” Sumners said of the last play of the game. “There was no reason to let them win and ruin all of the hard work we put in together as a team.”