Legacy’s defense was dominant in giving the school its second-ever football playoff victory – a 28-14 win over Tyler John Tyler in the 4A Division I bi-district round on Saturday in Forney.
The offense played its part as well, giving the Broncos an early 14-point lead that they would never relinquish.
“I didn’t know that we would be able to shut down John Tyler’s offense like we did,” head coach Chris Melson said. “I felt like we could, but being able to do that was really surprising. It was a dominating performance, to be honest with you. The kids just kept the pressure on the whole time and really won the line of scrimmage on both sides the whole game.”
Linebacker Everett Williams is one of the Broncos’ defensive leaders, and he wasn’t as surprised as Melson at their performance.
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“I wasn’t really surprised,” he said. “That’s the defense that we were playing with at the beginning of the year and we’ve been trying to get that type of defense back. We just came out and everybody did their jobs and it worked out just fine.”
Just a week prior, Tyler scored 54 points in a loss to Whitehouse, the undefeated No. 3 4A team in the entire state. So the Broncos knew what they were up against.
“It was a combination of preparation and adrenaline,” Williams added. “We had prepared all week and put the work in on the field [in practice] so it was both.”
The defensive performance allowed the offense opportunities to get its job done, which it did in large part because of a pair of brothers. Wide receiver Gentry Ivery caught two passes from his brother, quarterback Terrence Ivery, and both went for scores – one for 49 yards and the other for 24 yards.
“He’s really emerging as a big weapon for us,” Melson said of Gentry Ivery. “And the older brother being able to throw it to the younger brother is a really neat thing.”
It’s not the only neat thing going on with the Legacy football program. The school’s relative lack of football playoff success has more than just the boys in pads fired up.
“It’s like the whole school is together,” Williams said. “It’s like everybody loves everybody. It’s pretty cool.”
As for the players themselves, they all have the simple common goal of extending the dream season for as long as possible.
“We have the mindset that we aren’t ready to stop playing yet,” Williams added. “Everybody just wants to keep playing.”
Legacy will play at least one more week. The Broncos line up against McKinney North on Friday night at Kincaide Stadium in Dallas. The defense will again be tested, as the Bulldogs feature one of the area’s top rushers. Ronald Jones has amassed more than 2,000 yards on the ground the season and 34 touchdowns.
Melson thinks some shared characteristics of the teams set the stage for an enticing contest.
“Both teams are similar in size and speed and both run the ball. It should be a real good high school football game.”
Summit rolls in all aspects of game
Coaches often talk about winning in all three phases of the game, and that’s exactly what Summit did in its 4A Division I bi-district meeting with Nacogdoches last Friday night. The defense held the Dragons scoreless for three quarters while the offense gave the Jaguars an insurmountable 25-0 lead in their 25-15 victory. Special teams pitched in with a 54-yard Ryan Rodriguez field goal at the end of the first half.
“We felt we had to start fast,” head coach Travis Pride said. “I though the start of the game was going to be vital. Neither team knew much about the other and I think the tone of the game has a lot to do with who gets the momentum first.”
It was the Jaguars who seized momentum early. The offense scored on its first possession and the defense followed with a stop, and Summit never looked back.
Sophomore quarterback Braden Nolen again showed his growing maturity, guiding the team with 154 yards and two scores on 15-of-23 passing. One of those touchdown passes was to Johnson Ubani, who lit up the Nacogdoches secondary for 111 yards on seven receptions.
“When we need a spark I try to step up and be that guy to help our offense keep moving down the field and creating first downs,” Ubani said.
The 6-3 senior was a JV player last season, but has taken advantage of his opportunities this year to be the team’s leading receiver.
“He’s a big target; he catches well and runs well,” Pride said of Ubani. We’ll see some, but it’s not every day you’re going to see 6-3 and 6-4 corners out there, so oftentimes he’s a bit of a physical mismatch. From the beginning of the game I thought we had a personnel opportunity there with a little bit of an undersized corner.”
Ubani leads the team with 582 yards and six touchdowns receiving. He feels like his relationship off the field with Nolen has helped them between the lines this year.
“We feel like there’s more of a connection there,” Ubani said. “If I’m running full speed he can put a ball in the right spot, or if a ball is behind me he can trust that I’ll go get it. There’s a strong connection there.”
Another strong connection for the Jaguars this season has been that of Rodriguez’s foot with the ball. The junior kicker has twice won games for Summit on the final drive, and last Friday he sent the team to the locker room with a 54-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
“It was a huge confidence boost,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not every day that I get to go out there and hit a 54-yard field goal. I have a great snapper and great holder. I had no doubt we would do it. I just knew we were going to out there and execute.”
When you play as many close games and Summit does and has, it’s a nice feeling for coaches knowing they have that sort of asset available.
“It’s invaluable,” Pride said. “You have confidence in your offense, but are they going to score on every possession? Not necessarily. So it’s nice to have an automatic three points at your disposal … If you can get points every time you cross the 50, that’s a big asset.”
As the competition gets tougher, it’s likely Rodriguez could be called upon to win another game for the Jaguars, and he insists he’ll be ready.
“It’s a little mind-boggling that you can just be sitting there and suddenly it all comes down to you and you know it’s all on your back,” he said. “I just have to stay focused and execute. I have all the confidence that if that’s what it comes down to, I’m always ready on the sideline.”
Summit will face Wylie in the 4A Division I Area round on Friday at Dragon Stadium in Southlake.