CORINTH — Lurking in the Lake Dallas secondary are Josh Jackson and Roman Mitchell, stealing peeks into the eyes of the opposing quarterback, waiting to leap off the turf and come away with an interception.
Coming into the season, Mitchell was a proven commodity while Jackson had dabbled in the secondary but was for the most part unproven.
Last week’s 31-20 victory over Richardson Pearce showed they’re more than capable of dealing with opposing aerial attacks.
The Falcons visit Frisco Centennial today at Memorial Stadium, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. While the duo failed to come away with any takeaways against Pearce, it wasn’t because of a lack of opportunities.
“Roman and Josh both dropped some [interceptions] that I don’t think they’ll drop if they get those chances again,” Lake Dallas head coach Michael Young said. “I think they can easily have six, seven or eight interceptions between the two of them [this season]. We probably need them to.”
But Lake Dallas (1-0) might not have the best defensive back on the field tonight. That honor arguably falls to Centennial’s Ranthony Texada, who has orally committed to TCU. Texada and Baylor-bound defensive end Kevin Smith anchor a Centennial defense that shut down Denison in a 45-9 rout in their season opener.
Centennial head coach Mark Howard said this may be the quickest team he’s had in his nine years with the Titans. The team returns 31 seniors from a squad that reached the Class 4A Division II regional semifinals last season.
Lake Dallas has never lost to Centennial, but the Falcons’ coach knows his team will be up against one of the fastest teams they’ll face all season.
“They are extremely fast on offense and defense,” Young said. “I was really impressed how they ran everything defensively and offensively so smooth and sharp. For a Zero Week game, I thought they were way ahead of where people usually are. I think we’ll definitely have our hands full.”
The Titans (1-0) surely will have their hands full with Lake Dallas’ defense. Along with a defensive line boasting Graysen Schantz, Mitchell and Jackson man a secondary that includes Dante Basher.
Mitchell had a team-high four interceptions and two defensive touchdowns last season for the Falcons. Jackson, who admits he probably should have had a few interceptions against Pearce, is in his first season starting at cornerback.
“He’s super athletic and he’s smart and he sees the game really well,” Young said of Jackson. “I think the best thing that he does is that he breaks on the ball so well. It’s really dangerous to throw the ball in his direction because of the way he breaks on the ball.”
Jackson had an interception called back because of a penalty against Pearce — a momentary display of what Lake Dallas could receive from the junior over the next two seasons.
“I guess it’s just instinct,” Jackson said of his knack for interceptions. “I like to jump stuff. I’m kind of jumpy. I can just read the quarterback. I like to get interceptions, so that’s what I strive for every game.”
Jackson and Mitchell have yet to receive scholarship offers from any universities, but both said they’ve received interest from various schools. Tonight, they’ll have the opportunity to face a Football Bowl Subdivision prospect and keep the Falcons undefeated through two games.
“In our district this year, we have to be good back there or you’re going to struggle,” Young said. “With the offenses that we go against in our district play, if you’re not good in the front end and the back end on defense, it’s going to be a long year.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.