Football: Falcons fight size issue

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Guyer and Lake Dallas are separated by just a 2.9-mile stretch of Teasley Lane or Swisher Road, depending on whether you’re in Denton or Corinth.

If the schools were combined in some fantasy world, they would be left with a pretty dominant Class 5A football team. Instead they are two teams on opposite ends of the Class 4A spectrum heading into their clash tonight at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.

Guyer’s enrollment for the 2012-14 alignment was 2,064, putting it fifth in the state among 4A programs, trailing only Carrollton Smith, Mansfield Summit, Houston Reagan and Mission.

There are 247 schools playing in Class 4A, and Lake Dallas’ enrollment of 1,230 makes it the 42nd-smallest 4A school in the state, and that includes schools with Class 3A numbers that opt to play in 4A, a common practice in the Dallas school district.

“I’ve always thought he’s done a great job at the bottom of the classification,” Guyer coach John Walsh said of Lake Dallas coach Michael Young. “The first two times we played them, we split and they were great games. They always have great schemes and they’re always trying to be on the cutting edge offensively. They develop players really well.”

The way the series has played out reflects that.

In the schools’ three meetings, each team has won once in a blowout. There also was an epic game in 2009 in which Guyer edged the Falcons in a battle of future BCS-conference quarterbacks J.W. Walsh (Oklahoma State) and James Franklin (Missouri).

Guyer is coming off a Class 4A Division I state championship and made it to the state semifinals in 2008 and 2009 before losing in the Class 5A Division II final in 2010.

Lake Dallas has had several long playoff runs behind players who went on to big-time college careers, led by Franklin, Oklahoma offensive lineman Daryl Williams, Stanford wide receiver Dontonio Jordan and Dartmouth quarterback Dalyn Williams.

Those players have helped Lake Dallas thrive despite its relatively small enrollment.

When Lake Dallas joined the district with Denton’s three high schools in 2008, the Falcons had about 100 fewer students than they have now and were one of the state’s smallest 4A schools. That year, Franklin throttled Guyer, which was playing without an injured J.W. Walsh, a sophomore at the time.

In 2009, Lake Dallas, Ryan and Guyer shared the District 5-4A title after Guyer beat Lake Dallas, the Falcons beat Ryan and Ryan topped Guyer in the regular-season finale.

“Those years we didn’t have injuries like we have had this year,” Young said. “James’ junior and senior years, we didn’t lose any of those big-time players, which helped.”

Young said the biggest issues for his team always have been depth and avoiding injuries, problems the Falcons currently are seeing as they’re without their two top wide receivers and most likely without their starting running back for tonight’s game against Guyer.

“Numbers are important, and I know John [Walsh] and [Ryan head coach] Joey [Florence] will tell you that when you play 5A football, there’s a big difference,” Young said. “What we’re going through now is a great example. We usually have 20-23 guys that can play big-time 4A football, but the problem is if we lose two or three of them it really hurts us.

“[Guyer quarterback Jerrod] Heard is completely different, but if they lost anyone besides Heard, they could probably lose three of those guys and there would be not much of a drop-off. If we lose [wide receiver] Josh Jackson or someone like [defensive lineman Josiah] Tauaefa, those are killer blows for us because we just don’t have the depth to make up for that.”

ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.


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