The Other Sideline: McKinney’s Shavers leads his team into Buddy Echols Field for playoff matchup


Josh Campbell

The Coppell football team takes the field vs the Jaguars. Coppell faces the McKinney Lions in the playoffs this Friday at Buddy Echols Field.

Sahith Mocharla

Marcus Shavers took over the McKinney Lions in 2018, winning their first playoff game since 1994 in the 2019 season. After starting 0-5 in his inaugural season, Shavers learned to lead with love and reshaped his coaching philosophy. His McKinney Lions are back in the playoffs and are hoping to capture the success they seek.

How important is making the playoffs?

It feels great to be in the playoffs. It’s what your goal is at the beginning of the year. We play in a really tough football district against elite football teams; to be one of the teams that makes it out of District 5-6A is definitely an accomplishment. I’m proud of our coaches and our kids’ efforts. It’s good to be back in the playoffs after missing it the past two years.

What does this game mean for your seniors?

It means a lot. With our seniors on this football team, it’s a special group that we thoroughly enjoy spending time with and getting to be around. I think the overwhelming sentiment from our coaches and players is that we want to keep our football family together for as long as we possibly can. Facing Coppell gives us a chance to be together for an additional weekend, we’d love that opportunity, it’s something we’d be looking forward to.

Who are the leaders on your team?

It starts with our captains – this is the best group of captains I’ve been around in my career. They have influence in the locker room and they use that influence for the betterment of the team. They do a great job pushing, leading and influencing guys. On defense our captains are inside linebackers Royce Carver and Myles Elam; those two are our emotional leaders on the defensive side of the ball, very experienced and know what buttons to push for our team. On offense, it is offensive linemen Adrian Gallardo and Adrian Mackintrush, as well as our quarterback Keldric Luster. These guys are influential, when they are focused and lift hard everyone around them follows suit. They’ve done a tremendous job as captains.
For us as a coaching staff, it allows us to always trust that our kids will be able to address their own issues: they’ll hold each other accountable, talk to each other, and cooperate. It’s a luxury as a coach and something I’m grateful for. It’s incredibly important for those changes to come from each other rather than a coach telling it to them.

How does your running game, notably junior running back Bryan Jackson, influence your gameplan?

Bryan is tremendous for us, both on and off the field. He’s a phenomenal leader as well as a talented, tough, hard-nosed runner. He allows us to play complimentary football, establish a run game, and give us a physical presence in the run and pass game.
When you have a player like Bryan it gives your team confidence that you are never out of a game. We’ve been down as much as 21 points in a game and have been able to come back and be competitive. If your players don’t believe they can win, you won’t be able to win, and that belief is helped by having someone like Jackson on our team.

What excites you most about being back in the playoffs?

The coolest part is that we only have two kids in our entire program who have actually played in a playoff game. It allows us to be able to give a group of young guys that playoff experience and I think it just helps you. When you have guys that have that experience and have seen what it’s like, those guys tend to want to go back and know what it takes to get to that point. The fact that we’ve made it here, with only two guys, it’s a testament to our coaches leading our kids to a place that the majority of them have never been. Now that they’ve all gotten there, there’s just that many more people in our program that have that experience. They know what it’s like and know what it takes.

What’s the biggest change from the regular to postseason?

What is at stake. In a regular season game, you are usually guaranteed another game week, no matter how you played. But, in the playoffs you are playing for your season. If you win, you get practice, you get to keep your family together for another week. If you don’t, it is over on that field. Raising the stakes is the biggest difference.
t’s what I tell my players. What are you willing to do? To keep your family together, what would you do for your mother, father, siblings? Take that fight and apply it for our football family.  I, and my players, would do whatever we had to do to keep our family together, and it’s the same for this football team.

Follow Sahith (@SahithMocharla) and @SidekickSports on Twitter.