Brian Basil feels their pain.
Keller Timber Creek defensive coordinator Dusty Ortiz and Keller Fossil Ridge defensive coordinator Patrick Williams likely have burned through hours of tape breaking down one another’s high-powered offenses and designing a game plan.
By about 10:30 p.m. Friday night at the Keller ISD Athletic Complex, one team is going to know if all the planning worked, or worked well enough, to stay undefeated.
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Basil, Flower Mound’s head coach, just navigated his program through that two-game gauntlet. Flower Mound lost to Fossil Ridge in Week 2, 42-30. The Jaguars then fell to Timber Creek, 22-7, in Week 3.
“It was different facing each, but believe me, they’re both really good,” Basil said. “They are for different reasons. Timber Creek will give you more formations with their personnel. Fossil Ridge is a true spread. They can hit you, big play after big play. The people in Keller need to get out and watch it.”
Tony Baccarini’s Panthers (4-0) and Kevin Golden’s Falcons (4-0) open District 3-6A play seeing themselves as district championship contenders to unseat reigning champion Abilene. Whichever wins put itself in an advantageous position in the standings.
Each has the offense to justify the expectations. Fossil Ridge is at 42 points and 484 total offensive yards per game. Timber Creek is at 31 points and 354 yards.
Play-maker Division I wide receivers lead the way. Timber Creek’s Erik Ezukanma (6-3, 180) and Fossil Ridge’s Stefan Cobbs (6-2, 175). Both are difficult matchups. Both seniors possess game-changing speed.
How did each fare against Flower Mound? Cobbs had seven receptions for 156 yards and two scores. Ezukanma had eight receptions for 138 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown reception.
Each is on his way to a 1,000-yard season. Cobbs is coming off a torn ACL and is already at 577 yards with nine touchdowns. Ezukanma stands at 408 yards and seven scores. Each catches a touchdown roughly every three touches.
Basil said Ezukanma is stronger than people think and can find that extra speed on sweeps and screens. Cobbs is the classic vertical threat.
Basil has a history with Cobbs. On the second play of the 2016 meeting, Cobbs went down with the torn ACL. When he saw Cobbs at a 7-on-7 tournament in the summer, nothing looked different prior to the injury.
“Both have really good body positioning for the deep ball,” Basil said. “If you cover them, you’re going to have to compete for the ball. You can great positioning. But you’re going to have to attack the football and take it from them.”
Timber Creek quarterback Dylan McCrary has developed a strong rapport with Ezukanma. Fossil Ridge quarterback Cobe Craft has already thrown for more than 1,100 yards. He also has a solid No. 2 receiving threat in Jaylen Hearst, who averaging 24 yards per reception.
The dilemma in this game for each defensive coordinator is what he chooses to try and take away. If Ortiz focuses on Cobb, then that could allow for favorable matchups for Hearst, along with an already potent running game (195 yards per game).
Should Orlando want to focus on Ezukanma, that could give running back Blake Irving a chance to run. At 133 rushing yards per game, Irving is on a pace to finish with 1,330.
“With Erik, you’re going to have to limit him in space and make him run a little more underneath,” Basil said. “For Fossil Ridge to win, they’re going to have to use all their playmakers. Craft is a scrappy kid. This is going to be about each trying to play to and use his strengths.”