Denison High is one of the most successful rushing teams in North Texas, averaging over 360 yards per game on the ground entering its Class 4A Division II second round match-up with Dallas Lincoln.
Leading the way for the Jackets is a pair of 2010 prospects that have definitely created a buzz in North Texas.
Running back D.J. Jones, leads the area in rushing, averaging over 219 yards per game, while 6-4, 190-pound quarterback Jordan Taylor averages over 100 yards on the ground himself.
The combination of Jones and Taylor create match-up nightmares for any opponent attempting to slow down the Jackets rushing attack.
Of course, Dallas Lincoln is not just any opponent.
The 2008 version of the Tigers defense is the #1 ranked defense in North Texas, allowing only 14 points this year. That's right, all year.
Opposing ball carriers average came into the game only allowing 1.6 yards per carry and 45.7 rushing yards per game. Finding success through the air is just as tough, with Lincoln giving up only 65.4 passing yards per game.
The stage was set to see which team would impose their will on the other.
It was Lincoln who started quickly jumping out to a 13-0 first quarter lead behind a defense that forced the Jackets to three and out on its first three possessions. The duo of Jones and Taylor were held to just 38 yards on the ground, with 32 of that coming on a Taylor run on the last play of the opening stanza.
With Lincoln stacking the line of scrimmage, Denison was forced to limit the carries for Jones and they implemented another strategy.
"Their (Lincoln) defense line was real fast and their entire team was focused on taking D.J. away," Taylor explained. "Lincoln was giving us opportunities through the air, so that's what we decided to do considering the run just wasn't there."
The second quarter belonged to the Jackets. Taylor showed his athleticism, buying time in the pocket to allow his receivers and Jones to get open downfield. The result was Denison scoring 21 unanswered points to take a 21-13 halftime lead.
Taylor continued to show why he is rated as one of the best players in the 2010 class, leading the Jackets offense to three more scoring drives in the second half, on the way to a Denison 42-13 win over Lincoln.
Taylor finished the night rushing for 70 yards on 19 carries, and passing for 257 yards, completing 14 of 22 throws. The talented junior accounted for all of the Jackets touchdowns, three rushing and three passing.
Missing four games earlier this year with a broken collarbone, the Denison signal caller finally looks healthy. Despite the missed time, Taylor has combined for 829 yards rushing and 863 yards passing, while also accounting for 20 touchdowns.
Recruiters have taken notice
the University of Texas included.
"Bobby Kennedy contacted me and said that Texas has an interest in me," Taylor said. "They are recruiting me as a receiver."
Before making the move behind center, Taylor started eight games at wide receiver his sophomore year. Using his 6-4 frame, the versatile junior caught 29 passes for 575 yards and 11 touchdowns.
With the interest by the Longhorns, does he have an interest in Texas?
"Yes. I was going to go to the Baylor game with D.J. and JacQwaylin earlier this year, but I had a conflict and couldn't go," Taylor said. "I would love to make it down to Austin before the season ends."
With the 6-0, 220-pound Jones being the center of attention of the Lincoln defense, the junior had to show his versatility to achieve success.
With Denison trailing 13-7 in the second quarter, Jones showed his unselfishness by delivering a devastating block that opened the way for Taylor on a two-yard touchdown run, giving the Jackets the lead that they would never relinquish.
Jones also showed off his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, taking a screen pass 28 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter. He finished the night with four receptions for 68 yards, while rushing for 79 yards on just 13 carries and one touchdown. The six yards per carry doesn't seem that impressive, until you are reminded that the Lincoln defense had been holding opponents to 1.6 yards per carry to opposing runners after 1 games this season.
"Give them (Lincoln) a lot of credit on defense," Jones said. "You couldn't run sideline to sideline, just downfield right at them."
With running lanes being few and far between, Jones was used in the Jackets' passing attack.
"That wasn't the game plan coming in," Jones explained. "With their speed, we decided to spread it out to open up the pass. It was working, so we just used it to our advantage."
With Texas running backs coach Major Applewhite on hand to watch Jones, the Longhorns are clearly one team that Jones has a serious early interest in.
"My top three is still Texas, OU and Oregon," Jones said. "Coach Kennedy and Coach Applewhite said that they would stay in contact with me."
So, what were Jones impressions of his visit to Austin earlier this year?
"I went to the Baylor game. It was the first time that I've gone to a college football game," Jones said. "It was crazy, mayhem. I really enjoyed it."
Up next for the Denison duo is a Class 4A Division II regional semifinal match-up with 2009 quarterback Tyrik Rollison and the Sulphur Springs Wildcats, Friday night at Texas Stadium.
Expect a lot of offensive fireworks.
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