Plano Star-courier > Sports
Pirates could be problematic for Plano (VIDEO)
By Cory J. Mageors, Staff Writer
Wylie (3-3, 2-1) and Plano Senior (5-1, 2-1) are not too different heading into tonight’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Pirate Stadium.
While Plano does have the better overall record, their District 9-5A records are identical. Wylie, like Plano, has beaten Berkner and lost to Allen. Each team’s other opponent remains winless overall, in Richardson and Lake Highlands, respectively.
Looking at the competition the two teams have faced, this game is not necessarily a slam-dunk for the Wildcats. And Plano head coach Gerald Brence sees that.
“We know we have to take care of business here,” he said. “We just want to set ourselves up for a chance to make the playoffs. If we are going to do that we have to win these games here in the heart of our schedule.”
Last week Wylie suffered their first district loss in a 41-21 offensive battle with Allen. The Eagles have made a reputation for giving up high amounts of yardage and still winning, and Wylie took advantage of that.
Running back Nicholas Duvall, who has taken the place of injured Christopher Givens, posted 247 yards on 18 rushes last week, as the Pirates totaled 282 rushing yards against Allen. Duvall also has 6 touchdowns in the last three games, scoring all of the Pirates touchdowns against Allen.
In district, the Pirates are averaging 249 yards per game rushing while passing for only 196 ypg.
Still, quarterback Jerod Monk has completed more than half of his passes in district play, targeting senior receiver Christopher Nalley for 287 yards in the last three contests.
“That quarterback Monk, he is starting to turn into a very good quarterback,” Brence said. “And their receiver [Nalley] is just a tremendous receiver with speed and good hands.”
Nalley averages five catches a game, and was the Pirates leading receiver against Allen with six grabs for 100 yards.
The Pirates had three receivers with at least catches against Allen. Justin Thompson finished with seven catches for 84 yards while Colby Harper snagged six passes for 41 yards.
“They are going to lineup against you just like anybody else in this district,” Brence said. “They are going to run a spread and toss it around a little bit, but they can run the ball as well. We have to stop the run.”
The Wildcats defense had possibly one of their best games against Berkner last week, allowing only 218 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers. The Wildcats have four games this season in which they held their opponent to a touchdown or less.
Plano’s defense, now ranked No. 1 in the district, has not been suspect this season, and Brence appears very confident in his offense.
Junior running back Rex Burkhead helped Plano grind the clock out against the running game of Berkner by posting 135 yards on 35 carries, while adding 45 yards receiving. However, the connection between junior quarterback Carson Meger and his trio of receivers has also been outstanding. Meger has completed 72 percent of his passes, due mostly to the sure handed receivers and an array of offensive options.
“They are going to have to account for Rex of course in our running game,” Brence said. “But across the field you have to account for Kris Lott (junior), Grant Davis (senior) and Nate Christian (senior). And Carson too, you have to look out for him.”
However, Plano runs up against a stingy Wylie defense, which has allowed only 112.3 ypg through the air in district play. However, those numbers can be slightly skewed due to the fact that Berkner didn’t complete a pass against them.
The Wildcats might be able to find a hole in the Wylie defense, considering Allen posted 509 yards against the Pirates without their best running back.
No matter the situation, Wylie does play well at home; and on the road last year at Clark, the Wildcats were unable to get anything going against the defensive pursuit of the Pirates.
Plano, now with a confident team, will look to separate themselves from Wylie tonight with a victory in what should be a test of wills.