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Air vs. ground: Frisco vs. Lovejoy — a game of two 7-0 teams — will feature contrasting offenses

Frisco and Lovejoy will play Friday with a District 7-5A Div. II title on the line. Both offenses are high-powered, but operate in different ways.

The results, this season, have been similar for both Lovejoy and Frisco.

Each are 7-0 on the season, 5-0 in in 7-5A Div. II play. Neither have had trouble scoring; Lovejoy leads area 5A teams in scoring at 56.57 points per game, with a plus-326 point differential. Frisco is third at 49.29, and has outscored opponents by 209 points. The former is third in the Dallas-area 5A rankings. The latter is fifth. Both appear in the 5A Div. II state rankings, too; Lovejoy at three, Frisco at eight.

But Friday’s game between the two at Lovejoy will not feature a pair of identical, carbon copy offenses jockeying for positioning in District 7-5A Div. II.

A difference in philosophy and scheme helped create two of the Dallas area’s most potent offenses. Friday’s game — with a district title on the line — will pit two styles against each other.

Air versus ground.

“To a degree, they want to be the most physical football team on the field,” Lovejoy coach Chris Ross said. “So do we.”

Frisco, which operates out of a Wing-T, run heavy offense, leads all area 5A schools with 2,702 rushing yards. Bradford Martin (836 yards, six touchdowns), Jordon Hamilton (499 yards, eight touchdowns), Brandon Miyazono (434 yards, seven touchdowns) and Dylan Hardin (294 yards, 11 touchdowns) have led Frisco’s ground game.

It succeeds, partly, through attrition: run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, wear the defense out by halftime. It can knock teams off balance, addition-by-subtraction style; if Frisco controls the clock and possesses the ball for nearly twice as long as its opponent, than the team across the field, simply put, has fewer opportunities to score.

Frisco High head football coach Jeff Harbert throws a pass to a player as he fills in as quarterback during defensive plays at the school's outdoor practice facility in Frisco, Texas, Wednesday, October 13, 2021. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)
Frisco High head football coach Jeff Harbert throws a pass to a player as he fills in as quarterback during defensive plays at the school's outdoor practice facility in Frisco, Texas, Wednesday, October 13, 2021. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News) (Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

“I think back, several years back, to 2012,” Frisco coach Jeff Harbert said. “We were playing Prosper for a district championship. They had a guy that’s in the NFL now, some D1 receivers. We had a 20-play drive, an 18-play drive, a 22 [-play drive]. At the end of the day, they had run six offensive plays at the end of the half ... it gets them out of a rhythm, because they’re used to playing fast and running a lot of plays.”

Lovejoy’s attack is aerial-based, though it has rushed for more than 1,300 yards as a team. Sophomore Alexander Franklin’s 1,907 passing yards are second-most among area 5A quarterbacks. His 33 touchdowns top the list. Lovejoy’s offense is so efficient, Ross said, that his starters haven’t been needed after the first series in the third quarter as its outscored opponents 276-14 in the first halves of games this season.

Lovejoy has two receivers (junior Jaxson Lavender, 11, sophomore Parker Livingstone, 10) with double-digit touchdowns. Lavender, Livingstone and junior Kyle Parker have combined for 91 receptions, 1,742 yards and 28 touchdowns. Per 247, Lavender holds offers from Texas Tech, SMU and TCU, Livingstone from Arkansas and Tennessee, Parker from Pitt and Central Michigan.

“We understand it’s a luxury,” Ross said. “We’ve had weeks where some of these receivers have had 180, 190 yards, and then others had no catches, or one. And then the very next week, that guy has 12 catches for 165 [yards]. [Livingstone] had a game with no catches, and then had back-to-back games with over 150 [yards].”

One will leave Friday’s game with a crooked number at the end of its record.

“Tough guys win tough games,” Ross said. “Both of us are trying to do the same thing, and that’s ‘be physical.’ We just have two different ways of doing it.”

On Twitter: @McFarland_Shawn

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Shawn McFarland, SportsDay HS reporter. Shawn covers preps for SportsDay HS. He joined The Dallas Morning News after covering UConn basketball, football and high school sports for The Hartford Courant. A Boston area native, Shawn graduated from Springfield College in 2018 and previously worked for The Boston Globe and Baseball America.

shawn.mcfarland@dallasnews.com McFarland_Shawn
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