It took a while for the roads to thaw out and the weekend’s slate of football games to wrap up.
But when the ice somewhat melted, Guyer and Argyle moved closer to an appearance in the state championship game. Ryan’s valiant season ended after what looked like another improbable comeback was going to occur.
Adam Boedeker and I look back at Monday’s action and look forward to this weekend’s state semifinal games.
Class 5A Division II Region I final, Apogee Stadium
Cedar Hill 52, Ryan 29
Baby: In the second half of this game, I started thinking, “I’m pretty sure I watched this game a week ago.”
It was almost déjà vu, but Cedar Hill ended Ryan’s remarkable playoff run with a 52-29 win. After trailing 23-0 at halftime, the Raiders clawed back and trailed by eight points going into the fourth quarter. But Cedar Hill’s running attack proved to be way too much to handle. The Longhorns scored 21 straight points in the fourth quarter, including two touchdowns on two successive plays. After a 31-point comeback against Keller Fossil Ridge in the previous week, the Raiders couldn’t duplicate the incredible victory.
Ryan head coach Joey Florence said the defense was out on the field too much in the first half and that cost his team in the second half against the Longhorns. It might have been Florence’s final playoff run, as he might take over for retiring Denton ISD AD Ken Purcell.
If it was his last game, there was no way Florence and the Raiders were going out in a blowout defeat.
This year Ryan matched its deepest playoff run in 5A (2004) and there’s no dishonor in losing to Cedar Hill. It was always a competition to see who’s finishing second to Katy, because after the way Katy crushed a very good Manvel team 56-14, it’s highly likely Katy repeats as 5A DII champs.
Also, to put this run in perspective, the Raiders went farther than they did in 2011, when they had six highly-touted college prospects. That’s remarkable.
Boedeker: Eventually, you just had the feeling that Ryan’s magic was going to run out. And while it did on Monday against a team that played in last year’s state title game and could play in another one, the Raiders’ miraculous run was a really fun one to watch (or hear about, if you’re me).
I wrote the Raiders off against Waco Midway. I’ll gladly admit it. Many people did. They proved us all wrong. I actually picked Ryan to beat Keller Fossil Ridge and then they did so in the most unlikely manner.
Ryan was just outmatched by Cedar Hill, who racked up 438 rushing yards against Ryan — a number that normally isn’t even approached against a Ryan defensive front. The Raiders briefly made things interesting in the third quarter, reeling off 23 points in the third to pull within a touchdown and two-point conversion, but then Cedar Hill quit playing with its food.
There’s a lot of speculation out there that this was Joey Florence’s final game as the Ryan head coach, as it’s rumored he’ll replace the retiring Ken Purcell as Denton ISD’s athletic director. If true, Florence would be a great administrator. And honestly, there’s not much more he can accomplish at Ryan, where he started in 2000 and went to four straight state championship games (winning two) before adding another appearance in 2010. If it is, in fact, the end of Florence roaming the sidelines, the city of Denton has been lucky to have him and will be fortunate to have him in another capacity.
Class 4A Division I Region I final, Apogee Stadium
Guyer 53, Birdville 28
Baby: We were taking over/under odds on how many yards Birdville running back Xavier Turner was going to rattle off.
We failed to do the same for Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard, and we probably should have.Heard was fun to watch on Monday night, as he and the rest of the Wildcats were elusive in the 53-28 win.
Heard rushed for 212 yards in the win and he threw for 135 yards and a score. There were moments when he ran the ball in the first half and he slithered around the field and around Birdville’s defense, moments that showed why Texas badly wanted him.
Turner tallied 20 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including a 58-yard run where he burned Guyer’s defense. Isaiah Duarte had 63 of his 69 rushing yards on a 63-yard TD run for the Hawks.
But this was all Guyer. It was 39-7 at halftime, and I got in my car and rumbled home over the ice. Guyer, like Aledo and San Antonio Brennan, has not struggled at all in the postseason and we’re already at the state semifinals. Guyer won’t have it easy against Highland Park, but the Wildcats should move past the Scots to face either Houston Stratford or Brennan (my money’s on Brennan).
Boedeker: I felt pretty accomplished on Tuesday afternoon. After writing late Monday night after the game on our blog (you can check that bad boy out here) that Monday night’s game was Jerrod Heard’s second-best of his high school career, I decided to see if I was right.
I’m obviously no football coach, so I asked Guyer head coach John Walsh (a straight shooter 100 percent of the time) if my analysis was accurate. He said it was. There you go, I’m now an expert.
In all seriousness, Heard was fantastic on Monday night in the Wildcats’ win over Birdville, a game that was pretty much over in the first quarter after Guyer capitalized on a fumbled kickoff and reeled off 20 straight points. Heard was fantastic in the passing game, going 10-for-11 in the first half, and rushing for 212 yards, including a couple of long highlight-reel runs.
I talked to a coach from another prominent 4A program, who said Guyer’s offense busts plays from time to time, but Heard bails them out with his legs and always gets first downs. He’s obviously special, and he showed that on Monday night. The only game he’s played better was of course last year’s state championship when he accounted for all seven of Guyer’s touchdowns.
OK, enough about Heard. Guyer’s defense was phenomenal against the area’s top-ranked rushing offense and top running back Xavier Turner. The bruising, physical back that entered Monday’s game with 50 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 rushing yards got 124 rushing yards — with 58 coming on one long touchdown run. Other than that, he had 19 carries for 66 yards. Not bad at all.
Class 3A Division II Region II final, Waco Midway
Argyle 42, Gladewater 8
Baby: This had the potential to be a trap game for Argyle. Monday’s game was sandwiched between a win over rival-Gilmer and a potential matchup against undefeated Graham. So much for that. Argyle cruised in a 42-8 win over Gladewater, and it was 42-0 after three quarters.
Last week, an opposing head coach was in the press box for the Gilmer-Argyle game, and he said the winner was going to crush Gainesville or Gladewater. He was right.
Gladewater didn’t use star junior Daylon Mack as much as was anticipated. The stud defensive tackle had been moonlighting at running back, but James Reese carried the load with 26 carries for 172 yards, 68 of those coming on a touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
I’m looking forward to this Argyle-Graham matchup this Saturday. It’ll be a rematch of the 7-on-7 state championship (which doesn’t mean a whole lot), and a matchup of undefeated teams. I think the winner will end up facing Fairfield in the state championship game.
Boedeker: Well, this game was never a game. We’ve been saying for weeks now that whoever won that Argyle-Gilmer clash would waltz to the Class 3A Division II state championship game, and well, of course Argyle won, and it looks like they might make us look smart.
Argyle rolled to a 42-8 win over Gladewater behind a 130-yard rushing performance from Nick Ralston and two receiving touchdowns from do-it-all wide receiver Ian Sadler. Argyle led 42-0 through three quarters before letting off the gas.
Now, Argyle should get a decent challenge in the state semifinal from Graham, a team the Eagles beat in the 2007 playoffs when they shut down a quarterback by the name of Case McCoy in Stephenville. Graham won the state 7-on-7 state championship this summer, so you know they like to throw the ball around. Still, I think we both expect Argyle to be playing before Guyer next Friday at AT&T Stadium.