By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
WAXAHACHIE — Three weeks ago, Daniel McCants was eyeing a junior varsity district championship.
But even when the Killeen JV team finished its 10-0 season, the Roos’ sophomore running back’s job wasn’t done.
After running for 155 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries Friday, he and the Roos’ still aren’t done, either.
McCants and the Killeen backfield ran for nearly 500 yards and six touchdowns leading the Roos to yet another dominating playoff win, 60-25 over Fort Worth Arlington Heights, in a Division I-4A area playoff game at Lumpkin Stadium.
“I would’ve have been the spark with the O-line, so I just trust the offensive line when I run the ball,” said McCants, who’s run for 184 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the Roos’ two postseason wins. “It really doesn’t matter if I’m on JV or varsity, I just want to play football.”
Killeen (8-4) scored 32 unanswered points in the first half after falling behind late in the first quarter and had five different ball-carriers run for touchdowns in the game.
“He’s got a big offensive line to block for him and it’s a little quicker game … he got better,” Killeen coach Sam Jones said of McCants. “Now, he can play with us — we can put him on the kickoff team, the punt team and can even carry the ball — and he’s really opened up our offense, I believe.”
Garrett Gaskamp was 8-of-17 passing for 188 yards with an interception and two touchdowns. The Roos’ sophomore quarterback completed an 80-yard touchdown throw to Ricky Pelzer on Killeen’s first offensive possession after Alex Faoro gave Arlington Heights (9-3) a 10-7 lead with 2:10 left in the first quarter.
Gaskamp then threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Akeem Harrison on a third-and-11 play for a 19-10 lead and from there the Roos’ offensive line simply took over, controlling the line of scrimmage as their bevy of backs raced out to a 39-10 Roos lead at halftime en route to their first second-round playoff win since 2008.
Killeen plays the winner of today’s El Paso Chapin-Wichita Falls Rider game in a regional quarterfinal next week at a date, site and time yet to be determined.
“They played real close to the line of scrimmage — they’re going to stop the run. So we knew to throw the football and we thought if we could loosen them up, the run game would open back up and that’s exactly what happened,” Jones said. “We hit them both ways, with the run and the pass, and … if we can continue to do that, then we’ll be around this thing for a little while.”
McCants, who had two touchdowns called back because of penalties in Killeen’s 36-3 win over Granbury last week, finally found the end zone on a 61-yard run after Harrison’s touchdown grab, and Naaman Young and William Matthews each added rushing touchdowns on the Roos’ next two drives for the Roos’ lead at halftime.
After allowing the Roos nearly 500 yards of offense in the first half, the Yellow Jackets’ defense clamped down in the second half, but Killeen’s defense stepped up as well. The unit, which scored nine points in the win last week, forced two interceptions and a fumble and held Arlington Heights to just 14 points in the second half.
“Offense, it was their game to play today and we had to step up to the plate and do what our offense was doing and that was playing hard,” said senior Ameer Lee, whose third-quarter interception set up Devarri McCray’s 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth.
Lee, who’s the Roos’ punter as well, scored on a 61-yard fake punt run that gave Killeen a 46-17 lead with 6:17 left in the third quarter.
After Vincent Berrones’ 28-yard touchdown throw to Adrian McKenzie trimmed the Roos’ lead to 53-25 with 6:39 left, Killeen backup quarterback Eric Jackson recovered his own fumble in the end zone for the game’s final score with 3:31 left.