What you need to know: Hebron

Hebron's Clayton Tune throws a touchdown pass during Hebron's 26-20 loss to Coppell last week. Tune was a former QB at Ryan (Rick Moon, For the DRC)

Hebron’s Clayton Tune throws a touchdown pass during Hebron’s 26-20 loss to Coppell last week. Tune was a former QB at Ryan (Rick Moon, For the DRC)

It’s Wednesday and we’re already only a few short hours from game time. After making the long drive to Rockwall last week, Ryan is back in the friendly confines of C.H. Collins Athletic Complex to host Hebron in a Thursday night showdown.

For Ryan, it’s a chance to build some serious momentum after dismantling the Yellowjackets, 31-14. I talked about that win, and the need to build on momentum, a lot in my game advance for Thursday’s Denton Record-Chronicle. I also tried to breakdown Hebron, which is vastly improved from a year ago and should not be taken lightly.

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Guyer falls out of Top 10 in AP poll, Argyle holds strong at No. 2

Guyer sophomore wide receiver Donovan Greenhoward misses a catch against Allen on Friday. (David Minton, Denton Record-Chronicle)

Guyer sophomore wide receiver Donovan Greenhoward misses a catch against Allen on Friday. (David Minton, Denton Record-Chronicle)

Thanks to a lopsided season-opening loss to Allen on Friday, Guyer found itself falling out of favor in this week’s Associated Press high school state poll. The Wildcats, which opened the season at No. 9 in Class 6A, fell out of the Top 10. This is really not a shocker at all, though in all likelihood, Guyer will be back in the Top 10 as early as next week if it can knock off Ennis.

As for Argyle, the Eagles held strong as the No. 2 team in Class 4A after beating Abilene Wylie on Friday, 20-10. Argyle, which has played in a state title game in three of the last four seasons, is second only to Navasota.

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Weekend recap: Raider rebound

 

Ryan head coach Dave Henigan watches as Quarterback Spencer Sanders throws a pass during practice at Ryan High School Monday morning August 10, 2015, in Denton, Tx. Photo by Al Key/DRC Ryan head coach Dave Henigan watches as Quarterback Spencer Sanders throws a pass during practice at Ryan High School Monday morning August 10, 2015, in Denton, Tx. Photo by Al Key/DRC

Ryan head coach Dave Henigan watches as Quarterback Spencer Sanders throws a pass during practice at Ryan High School Monday morning August 10, 2015, in Denton, Tx. Photo by Al Key/DRC Ryan head coach Dave Henigan watches as Quarterback Spencer Sanders throws a pass during practice at Ryan High School Monday morning August 10, 2015, in Denton, Tx. Photo by Al Key/DRC

After a struggle in 2014, Ryan showed out and put on for its city by shocking a Rockwall team that started the 2014 season 12-0 before bowing out in the third round of the playoff. Granted, it was a different Rockwall team, but this is a different Ryan team. In a weekly staple, Steve and I will look at some of the previous week’s top games and it all starts with Ryan’s bounce-back victory to get the season started on the right foot.

Ryan at Rockwall

AB: This game was a tough one to pick because you had to figure Ryan was going to be better with Spencer Sanders back healthy under center and with eight games of varsity experience under his belt, not to mention an older, stronger, better Tyreke Davis and what looked to be a pretty stout defense. Rockwall, meanwhile, lost a ton of production from last year’s stellar team in running back Chris Warren and wide receiver Xavier Castille. Sanders put up some really nice numbers, rushing for nearly 200 yards and passing for 129 yards and a score, and the Ryan defense shut down a Rockwall offense trying to find its way. It’s always hard to judge too much from season openers — good or bad — but from a confidence standpoint, if nothing else, Friday’s win for Ryan was a biggie.

SG: An upset win for some football know-it-all writers, but not me. Check out my blog from last week and I predicted a 24-21 win. That’s a lot tighter than what happened – the Raiders won 31-14 – but it’s a win nonetheless. And what a great win it was for a program that had its 14-year playoff streak snapped last fall. Spencer Sanders was grinning from ear to ear on the field after the game, on a night where he rushed for 178 yards, passed for 129 and accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing) against a Rockwall team that went 12-1 last year. His 81-yard TD run in the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty, and proved this is a guy teams need to look out for. Defensively, Ryan was just as dominant – the unit allowed one TD early in the third and didn’t allow another until the game was out of reach.

Guyer at Allen

AB: Even when Guyer took a 10-7 lead midway through the second quarter over Allen, there was never a real strong feeling things were going to end well for the Wildcats. Guyer was out of rhythm offensively, and you got the feeling the defense would eventually get worn down from being on the field so much. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened and when the Wildcats botched a punt and gave Allen the ball at their 9-yard line to go up 21-10, that was pretty much all she wrote. At that point, the momentum and excitement surrounding the re-opening of Allen’s $60 million stadium proved to be way too much to overcome. Allen’s defense was by far the best Guyer will see this year, so fear not, Guyer nation, things will get better, and it’ll start this weekend against Ennis.

SG: So what? Yes, it would have been nice to see the Wildcats come away with a win, but losing to the greatness that is Allen is nothing to get too concerned about – especially for a season opener. Speaking of season openers, need I remind everyone that Guyer hasn’t won a season opener since 2011? It’s true, and year after year the Wildcats end up being one of the top teams in the state. If there is anything that surprised me, it was the score. I had Guyer winning by a touchdown and if memory serves my compadre, Mr. Boedeker, had them by four. No one expected a 48-16 thrashing. Guyer took the lead once, and after that, it was all Eagles. Next, it’s on to another defending state champ, Ennis.  Guyer did beat them last year, and I expect nothing short of a solid rebound game for the Wildcats.

Wilmer-Hutchins at Denton

AB: Give Denton credit for whupping up on a team they were supposed to whup up on. That hasn’t always happened, but in this new age of Bronco football, it does. The Broncos had a couple of questions going into the game, most notably how quarterback Colt Atkinson would perform in his first game as the starter. He didn’t disappoint, throwing for 271 yards and three scores while running back Xavier Scott cruised to 165 yards and four scores in a very Scott-like effort. Denton won’t be tested in non-district play. We’ll have to wait until what is a pretty good district slate to see what they’re really made of, but they appear to be on the verge of another successful season over on Fulton Street.

SG: There’s a ton of hype surrounding Denton this year after the team started off 6-0 in 2014 en route to a winning season and long-awaited playoff victory. With that being said, and I’m not trying to take anything away from Denton, but this score is not surprising at all given who they played. I’ve seen Wilmer-Hutchins play basketball, and they are one of the toughest outs in the postseason. In football … well … again, Denton was supposed to win this game. Xavier Scott did what Xavier Scott does in rushing for 165 yards and four touchdowns, and new Broncos quarterback Colt Atkinson tossed three touchdowns while passing for 271 yards. Overall, Wilmer-Hutchins was outgained 507-171 and trailed 39-6 by halftime. The competition will surely get tougher for Denton as the season rolls along, but this was a nice beat down to start the 2015 season.

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Three Things: Guyer at Allen

Guyer senior defensive end Tevan McAdams (8) celebrate after a play against Allen, in the 2015 Tom Landry Classic, Friday, August 28, 2015, in Allen, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer senior defensive end Tevan McAdams (8) celebrate after a play against Allen, in the 2015 Tom Landry Classic, Friday, August 28, 2015, in Allen, TX. David Minton/DRC

Well, Friday’s game was not what many people expected to see. A few folks picked Guyer to win, myself included, but just about everyone was predicting a tight game between two state-ranked teams.

It started out that way, but after Shawn Robinson’s highlight-reel 55-yard TD run gave Guyer a 10-7 lead midway through the second quarter, the Allen machine took over and rolled to a 48-16 win — the Eagles’ 44th straight win.

Here are three quick things I took away from the game, which went from good to bad pretty quickly for Guyer.

1. Guyer’s defense is going to be good: Guyer coach John Walsh has been playing up his defense all spring and summer, and on Friday, they showed they’re going to be a force. But they gave up 48 points, you say. Well, that happens when you’re on the field the majority of the game and you’re up against a really good football team. Two big reasons for Walsh’s enthusiasm are his bigger and better defensive ends, Cameron Wax and Tevan McAdams, and both displayed greatness on Friday. McAdams was in on nine tackles and had four behind the line of scrimmage with a sack. Wax was in on eight stops with three behind the line, a pass breakup, a sack and two QB hurries. That’s going up against the top player in the nation in Allen tackle Greg Little. They were also missing Ben Nwiba on Friday with a broken hand. He’s not a starter, but their fifth defensive lineman and a huge factor given that when he plays on the end, it allows Wax to move inside. They’re going to be a force for the rest of the season and present a ton of problems to opponents.

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What you need to know: Rockwall

Rockwall quarterback Will Reed throws a pass last year. He threw 33 touchdown passes. (Bill Carter, for the Record-Chronicle)

Rockwall quarterback Will Reed throws a pass last year. He threw 33 touchdown passes. (Bill Carter, Dallas Morning News)

Finally! Texas high school football has returned. A note to those who were searching for our Denton Record-Chronicle preseason magazine this morning. I feel your pain … it WAS scheduled to drop today, but unfortunately, no one received it unless they were a subscriber. Somehow, it was left out of the papers on newsstands and will be re-inserted into Friday’s paper. In the meantime, here’s the online version (Football mag). I’ve already personally dropped off a handful at Ryan, and will try to make more rounds today. Sorry again folks, but it will be worth the wait!

Now for the purpose of this blog. Ryan at Rockwall. It should be a good one between two teams that fought a close battle last year. Ryan struggled last season, but was one of only two teams to hold Rockwall — which finished 12-1 — to 26 points or less. That’s impressive considering the Yellowjackets averaged just more than 53 points last year. Rockwall lost some weapons, namely running back Chris Warren (Texas) and receiver Xavier Castille (SMU), but always seems to reload. Ryan has sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders, a host of weapons, and a defense with bite.

FYI … I will have a game advance in tomorrow’s paper. For now, here’s some quick info.

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What you need to know: Allen

Allen head coach Tom Westerberg (right) talks to Alex Robinson (left) as quarterback Seth Green (7) listens during afternoon practice on Aug. 10 in Allen. (G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News)

Allen head coach Tom Westerberg (right) talks to Alex Robinson (left) as quarterback Seth Green (7) listens during afternoon practice on Aug. 10 in Allen. (G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News)

Well, folks. Here we go. That annual #txhsfb grind begins on Friday, and Guyer’s game against Allen is quite possibly the biggest of a big slate of marquee games in the area in Week 1. It’s going to be spectacle city in Allen as the Eagles reopen their $60 million stadium after a year of structural fixes — as an aside, keep us in the press box in your thoughts — and there is even a sky-diving team set to jump out of an airplane and deliver the game ball. Boy, you just can’t get any more Allen and #txhsfb than that.

The game itself? Well, it should be a dandy between two teams ranked in the preseason top 10 of the Associated Press Class 6A state poll. Last year was the coming out party for Shawn Robinson, Guyer’s dynamic dual-threat quarterback who made his first start for the Wildcats against Allen last year. That was a game featuring a tremendous matchup at quarterback, but now all-World QB Kyler Murray is at Texas A&M and Allen must turn elsewhere under center. They have two options, and both are expected to play, in Minnesota move-in Seth Green, an Oregon commit, and Mitchell Jonke, who transferred to Allen from Lovejoy two years ago.

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Preseason questions: Talkin’ bout playoffs?

Denton Ryan's Trent Willis (21) celebrates with teammates after the Raiders' 34-33 win during the Denton Ryan High School Raiders vs. the Midway High School Panthers football playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Saturday, November 23, 2013.  (Louis DeLuca/Dallas Morning News)

Denton Ryan’s Trent Willis (21) celebrates with teammates after the Raiders’ 34-33 win during the Denton Ryan High School Raiders vs. the Midway High School Panthers football playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Saturday, November 23, 2013. (Louis DeLuca/Dallas Morning News)

Ryan won’t start its first practice of 2015 until first-thing Monday morning, but I thought it would be a good idea to touch on five key questions/things to look for heading into the “big day.” I’ll focus on one per day.

Question # 5 — We’ve explored several questions/points of interest over the course of this week when it comes to the Raiders’ 2015 season. So having digested all of that, it’s time to make some bold predictions. After missing the playoffs for the first time in 14 years last season, does this year’s Ryan team have what it takes to right the ship? Specifically, will the Raiders make the playoffs?

Yes, absolutely. I’ve got Ryan finishing 3rd in District 5-6A with a record of 5-2, just behind Guyer and Keller. There will likely still be an incredible amount of parity in this district, as was the case last year, but I truly believe Ryan is a Top 3 team against this slate.

Here’s the deal: Ryan missed the playoffs last year not so much because of the competition, but because it was horrible at protecting the football. I know it, you know, THEY know it. You can’t turn the ball over 23 times in 10 games and expect to do well. I look back on district losses to Keller Central (5 turnovers), Keller (3 turnovers) and Northwest (4 turnovers), and I see at least two extra wins if you take out the errors. Despite its miscues, Ryan was still a playoff-bubble team going into Week 9.

Furthermore, coach Dave Henigan is a solid coach and this is not the same inexperienced squad he took over last year. He has a defense loaded with talent (8 guys who started or saw significant playing time), an offense with weapons, and a core group of players who believe last year was an anomaly.

Good enough for me. And if any Ryan players don’t like how many district losses I’ve got for you in 2015, prove me wrong. I’m good with that, too.

From Thursday: Pass-catching studs

From Wednesday: Running back by committee

From Tuesday: Where’s the beef?

From Monday: Cutting down on turnovers

Preseason questions: Game-changer?

The Guyer Wildcats are set to begin fall practice on Monday, and with days to go before that early morning practice comes, we’re going to take a look at five preseason questions/things to watch for in the upcoming season.

Guyer is set to open their 10th regular season in program history on Aug. 28 in the re-opening of Allen Eagle Stadium against the three-time defending Class 6A Division I state champion Eagles. Before that, the Wildcats scrimmage Euless Trinity and have a lot of practices leading up to that.

Question: The Wildcats have a history of utilizing some pretty good tight ends in the last seven or eight years. This year, they have what could be the next in line, and he’s a completely different animal. Can the Wildcats properly utilize Brian Polendey’s skill set?

Over the years, the Wildcats have had some really good tight ends, but for the most part, it’s basically been an extension of their stout offensive line and helped contribute to one of the best rushing attacks in the state on an annual basis. Names like Xavier Brown, Jonathan Pershall and Austin Otto stand out. One time, back in 2010, they had someone who could be heavily utilized in the passing game in Dominic Ramacher, but he was more of an H-back than a true tight end.

Now, the Wildcats have a unique weapon in the form of Brian Polendey, a 6-5, 240-pound tight end, and a tight end in the truest sense of the term these days. Think Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce, etc. That’s what Polendey has the chance to be.

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Preseason questions: Pass-catching studs

Ryan WR Rodney Gladney tries to shake off a tackle against Byron Nelson last year (Mike Mezuel/For the Record-Chronicle)

Ryan WR Rodney Gladney tries to shake off a tackle against Byron Nelson last year (Mike Mezeul II, for the Record-Chronicle)

Ryan won’t start its first practice of 2015 until first-thing Monday morning, but I thought it would be a good idea to touch on five key questions/things to look for heading into the “big day.” I’ll focus on one per day.

Question # 4 — Ryan was a run-heavy team last year, playing to its strengths behind a veteran offensive line, nimble quarterback and an experienced running back. The nimble quarterback (Spencer Sanders) is back, but he also has a pretty solid arm. Coach Dave Henigan wants to open up the playbook, but who will Sanders throw to in 2015?

For you eagle-eyed readers out there, you are correct. I said in my previous blog that today’s question would focus on defense. I’m not trying to hate on the Raider defense by switching gears, it’s just that we know they have as many as eight guys back who either started or saw significant playing time in 2015. It’s going to be a solid group, and I promise to make it up to them.

Another reason for the switch is that I went out to Raider Nation this morning and caught the tail end of a throwing session Sanders was having with his new receivers. I’ll tell you right now, he’s got some weapons. Not only is Rodney Gladney back in the fold (236 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns last year), but the sophomore duo of Gabriel Douglas and Tauskie Dove looked really good.

Exactly how good they are … time will tell and I certainly don’t want to give them too much credit yet. But at around 6-2 and 6-3, respectively, they look like the type of guys who can flat out go get a ball no matter where it’s thrown. In Ryan’s spring game, Dove made a leaping catch over a defender, twisted around, and ran in for a 65-yard touchdown.

Either way, they add depth to a position that also includes Randy Gray and Keith Cole.

Coming Friday: Playoff predictions (unless I change my mind)

From Wednesday: Running back by committee

From Tuesday: Where’s the beef?

From Monday: Cutting down on turnovers

Preseason questions: Two-way troopers

Guyer's Thabo Mwaniki (30) tackles a Keller Central Charger during a game last season at C.H. Collins Stadium. Maegan Puetz/For the DRC

Guyer’s Thabo Mwaniki (30) tackles a Keller Central Charger during a game last season at C.H. Collins Stadium. Maegan Puetz/For the DRC

The Guyer Wildcats are set to begin fall practice on Monday, and with days to go before that early morning practice comes, we’re going to take a look at five preseason questions/things to watch for in the upcoming season.

Guyer is set to open their 10th regular season in program history on Aug. 28 in the re-opening of Allen Eagle Stadium against the three-time defending Class 6A Division I state champion Eagles. Before that, the Wildcats scrimmage Euless Trinity and have a lot of practices leading up to that.

Question: The Wildcats have a history with two-way players, even though it isn’t something that is too prevalent at the state’s largest classification. Josh Stewart was one of the best players in the state while starring at cornerback and wide receiver for Guyer before going on to Oklahoma State and then the Tennessee Titans. The Wildcats will rely on a couple of more two-way stars this year. Can they hold up?

In 2010, when the Wildcats advanced to the Class 5A Division II (now known as 6A) state championship game, they did it with a couple of studs going both ways at wide receiver and cornerback. It all started with Stewart, who racked up nearly 1,000 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns despite not playing on offense until the fifth game of the season. On defense, he racked up 85 tackles, broke up 12 passes and had seven interceptions. For good measure, he added a punt return touchdown.

They also had Quint Gardener, who missed several games due to injury but had 544 receiving yards with six touchdowns to go with 29 tackles, five breakups and four interceptions and was huge in the postseason on defense.

Will they have anyone like Stewart this year? If they do, look out. But even if they don’t, they’re going to have a couple of players who will seeing lots of action at wide receiver and in the secondary. Defense will be priority for cornerback Brandon Daniel and safety Thabo Mwaniki, but they’ll get on the field on offense in what Guyer coach John Walsh calls “money time.”

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