Frisco ISD opened up the Ford Center at The Star in style on Saturday, hosting a quadruple-header that featured all eight high school varsity football programs.
The Knights of Independence High School and the Lions of Reedy High School kicked off the very first game in Ford Center history. It was also a first for Reedy, as this was their program’s inaugural varsity football game. Independence scored first on a 27-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Kyle Saddler to receiver Colton Nielson and never looked back. The Knights amassed 576 total yards of offense on their way to a 54-3 win.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” said Independence head football coach Kyle Story after the win. “This is something the kids have been working for, and I’m just proud of those guys that they had the opportunity to say that they won the first ballgame ever in this awesome facility.”
Despite the loss, there were some bright spots for a young Reedy team that has no seniors. Sophomore quarterback Josh Foskey connected on 10 passes for 95 yards and ran for another 26 yards on 12 carries. Running back Justin Gipson added 54 yards on 18 carries, and kicker Will Harbour scored the school’s first points on a 35-yard field goal.
The second game of the day featured the defending Class 5A Division II runner-up Lone Star High School Rangers against the Coyotes of Heritage High School. Lone Star senior quarterback Jason Shelley, the reigning District 9-5A Offensive Player of the Year, put on a show, accounting for 510 total yards and 5 touchdowns while leading his team to a 62-14 victory.
Shelley threw for 489 yards and 3 touchdowns on 24-of-34 passing and ran for another 21 yards on 9 carries with 2 touchdowns. Receiver Jaylen Dixon hauled in 14 catches for 194 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Dakota Albrecht and Coby Shelton each contributed over 100 yards receiving.
“The biggest thing is the maturity we showed,” said Lone Star head football coach Jeff Rayburn. “I think with all the potential distractions we had of the opening of The Star, being on ESPN, our kids were really mature and handled it in a great way. I think that focus level kind of propelled us to have the success we had today.”
Heritage had a strong rushing attack in this game, led by dual-threat quarterback Amare Jones who gained 135 yards on 22 carries, and running back Omar Jones who added 113 yards on 10 carries. Amare Jones also accounted for both Heritage touchdowns, connecting with receiver Nic McTear on a 19-yard pass and receiver Travis Garner on a 15-yard toss.
Saturday’s third game was between the Wakeland High School Wolverines and the Liberty High School Redhawks. Wakeland led the entire game, scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Jay Orji on their very first drive en route to a 42-13 victory. Orji had a monster game, rushing for 125 yards on 15 carries and 4 touchdowns. Quarterback Cooper Chandler completed 14 of 20 passes for 181 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown toss to tight end Jacob Heinrich.
“The thing I like most is that I saw some young kids step up and make some plays today,” said Wakeland head football coach Marty Secord. “Some young kids on our offensive line and defensive line that just don’t have a lot of varsity snaps. And the quarterback, he just played great today. He’s got great knowledge of the game and great skills. Those things were all encouraging.”
The Redhawks had a balanced attack on offense, led by 157 yards passing by quarterback Grant Buss and 100 yards on the ground by running back Dmitri Jones. Buss threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to receiver Will Blasingame and ran for another score to account for all of Liberty’s touchdowns.
The finale pitted the District’s two oldest high schools against each other – the Frisco High School Raccoons and the Centennial High School Titans. An exciting finish to a special day, this matchup featured tough defense and a contrast in offensive styles. In the end, the Raccoons pulled out a tense and hard-fought 16-13 victory over the rival Titans.
Centennial got on the board first on a 37-yard field goal by kicker Conner Donisi in the second quarter. Frisco answered with a methodical 63-yard drive that was capped off by an 8-yard quarterback keeper by Caden Wright to give Frisco a 7-3 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was a defensive struggle, as both teams turned the ball over repeatedly and couldn’t get it in the end zone. The only scoring in the quarter came on a 25-yard field goal by Frisco kicker Jack Reid.
Frisco entered the final quarter with a 10-3 lead, but Centennial took advantage of a fumble by the Raccoons on their own 25 with another field goal. With 11:39 left in the game, Frisco was clinging to a slim 10-6 lead. The Raccoons took the ensuing kickoff and marched 67 yards down the field, scoring on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Wright. The extra point was blocked, but Frisco still led 16-6 with 6:03 to play.
Centennial got the ball back and answered with a 53-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Brock Floyd to receiver Danny Mustaca on a drive that included a fake punt on a critical fourth down play, cutting the Raccoons’ lead to 16-13 with 4:31 to play. A fumble by the Raccoons on their next possession set the Titans up on the Frisco 30 yard line with 3:40 left on the clock. But the Frisco defense stepped up and forced Centennial into a 4th down and 10 situation. Centennial lined up to go for it, but called timeout and decided to attempt a 47-yard field goal.
The field goal attempt fell short and Frisco took over at their own 30 yard line with just over 3 minutes to play. The Raccoons once again went to their ground game, rushing the ball on every down as they moved to the Centennial 19 yard line and took a knee to run out the clock and preserve a 16-13 victory.
“The defense played an awesome game,” said Frisco High head football coach Vance Gibson. “Play after play they just created turnovers. Centennial had great field position and the defense just made plays. Obviously without that we wouldn’t have won the game.”
Frisco High’s triple option ground attack amassed 322 yards on 64 plays, led by 106 yards on 18 carries from tailback Devin Wyatt and 86 yards on 20 carries by quarterback Caden Wright. Connor Redington and Jamal Stanfield each added 50 yards rushing.
Centennial’s spread offense accounted for 257 total yards, including a combined 129 yards passing by quarterbacks Weston Symes and Brock Floyd. Symes also had 77 yards on the ground on 8 carries. Mustaca led the Titans in receiving with 62 yards and a touchdown.
No matter the outcome, all eight FISD football teams played with heart and determination on Saturday. The players gave their all on the field and walked away with memories that will last a lifetime.
“Win or lose, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all our kids and all of our fans and our city,” said Rayburn. “Hopefully everybody can soak it in and enjoy the experience because it’s something special.”
“It was unbelievable,” said Reedy quarterback Josh Foskey. “That was probably the most excitement I’ve ever had.”