The Denton Record-Chronicle lost just one area team over the weekend, meaning we’re all still really busy, so thanks, schools. Keep reading as Steve Gamel and I take a look at the weekend’s action.
Hebron at Guyer
AB: I said before this game that if Guyer could get everything together on offense, they could beat anyone in the 6A Division II bracket. And I still believe that. They’re an incredibly inconsistent team offensively this year, and that was on full display on Friday. Guyer trailed 13-6 at half (even though it easily could’ve been 13-13 if not for a questionable out-of-bounds call on Shawn Robinson’s tremendous run) and trailed 26-13 with 1:40 left in the third quarter. Then, the Wildcats showed up and were that “good” version of themselves. That’s when Guyer began to impose its will on the ground and just ran wild on the Hawks behind Shawn Robinson’s 247 rushing yards and freshman, yes FRESHMAN, Noah Cain’s 177 yards. From that 1:40 mark on, Guyer rushed for 262 of their 532 rushing yards and averaged 13.1 yards per carry. It was almost comical how easy it was for them. Now, Guyer gets a rematch with Southlake Carroll, who ended the Wildcats’ year in the area round last year in a high-scoring affair plagued by Guyer mistakes. If the Wildcats have mistakes like that, or like they did Friday, this game won’t end well for Guyer. If the Wildcats play clean football, like I said, they can beat anyone in front of them because of their defense and their insane rushing attack.
SG: I love reading quotes from Guyer coach John Walsh, don’t you? I mean, this guy laughs in the face of the whole “coach-speak” philosophy and simply tells it like it is – win or lose. I respect that, especially when he went on record with my buddy Adam by saying, “…We collectively screwed it up.” Hebron is obviously a better team than what I saw when Ryan sliced and diced the Hawks in Week 2, but Guyer honestly should have done the same early on in Friday’s first-round playoff game. Walsh clearly agreed. Two takeaways and the Wildcats still trailed 13-6. But, like all championship-caliber teams do – Guyer has won two titles, remember? – the Wildcats didn’t fold. Shawn Robinson and freshman Noah Cain obliterated the Hawk defense with 247 and 177 rushing yards, respectively. Cain, in particular, has been absolutely insane this season and is practically a lock for our DRC all-area newcomer of the year.
Plano East at Ryan
AB: Just sitting here at the office talking to my co-worker Steve, and I told him about my revelation that came full circle over the weekend. As it turns out, Ryan is a really, really good football team. I had pretty much come to that conclusion after the Raiders beat Guyer to close the regular season, but I’m all-in now. They didn’t use their usual defensive dominance to beat Plano East in their bi-district playoff win. Instead, they used a high-flying offensive attack led once again by the great Spencer Sanders. All the stars showed up for the Raiders — Sanders, Gabriel Douglas, Rodney Gladney, and of course, Tyreke Davis, who had a pick-six. Anyway, you don’t go 11-0 without being good, regardless of a lack of competition throughout the season, and the Raiders are a darn good football team. Word of caution for Raiders fans, though: Don’t think you got a break by not having to face previously unbeaten Euless Trinity. SGP can play.
SG: I’ve been saying all year long that Ryan is a more complete team than it is being given credit for, even at 11-0. Not only have the Raiders remained unbeaten, but they’ve won those games in a variety of ways (offense, defense, special teams, low-scoring and high-scoring). On Friday, they went toe-to-toe with a pretty good offensive team in Plano East and flat-out outscored them while rolling up 514 total yards. This could have been a tighter game but Plano East was, in my opinion, too fancy for its own good going for 2-point conversion attempts early in the first half. They missed two in a row, then had an extra point kick blocked and turned the ball over twice. Meanwhile, Ryan didn’t commit a single turnover and at one point lead by 17 early in the second half. Not a bad start at all to the playoffs for Ryan. Next up is South Grand Prairie at AT&T Stadium.
Grapevine at Denton
AB: Somehow, some way, the Broncos won this game. That, in itself, is a compliment to Kevin Atkinson’s team because if you look at the numbers, they really had no business winning. But good teams find ways to win, and Denton did that late Saturday night. Denton had six first downs and got just 32 rushing yards from its 200-yard guarantee, Xavier Scott, yet a kick return touchdown on the opening kickoff set the tone enough as Denton overcame the fact they were outgained by nearly 100 yards and had more than 100 yards in penalties. Next up for the Broncos is powerhouse Aledo. Eek, that’s gonna be a tough one.
SG: Things weren’t as nip-and-tuck as the Broncos would have wanted in their first-round game at AT&T Stadium – it had a 9 p.m. start time for starters. But as they say, a win is a win is a win. Denton got a monster 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Micah Gray on the opening play of the game and held on for an awkward 12-11 win. Denton showed resolve in a game everyone expected them to win. Now it’s on to the next round. We had been projecting for weeks that Denton could be set up for a long playoff run, but to do that, it will need to upend Aledo this week. That’s tough for any team in Class 5A, and for Denton to pick up a win, it will have to do better than the 12 points it mustered on Friday.
Lake Dallas at Fort Worth Brewer
AB: Last year, we all thought the Falcons were set for a long playoff run, having avoided the bear trap of playing Aledo. The same goes for this year. Last year, the Falcons were ousted by a Wichita Falls team that shut down the Falcons’ high-scoring attack. That didn’t happen on Friday against Brewer, as Dagan Haehn rushed for more than 100 yards and threw for a touchdown, as well. Now, they’ll face a Burleson team that they should do similar things to, and that deep playoff run looks highly possible.
SG: Many people think the Falcons will have a long playoff run ahead of them. We said this same thing last year, but Lake Dallas didn’t hold up its end of the bargain in a first-round loss to Wichita Falls. They got that out of the way this year with a win over Brewer. I would love to see this happen. Michael Young has done a superb job for over a decade building a contender. He has the players (Dagan Haehn and Keegan Brewer being two) and it’s time to make it happen.
Springtown at Sanger
AB: Last year, Sanger took a big step by beating Springtown in the bi-district round with a freshman quarterback and a star running back that was out with an injury. It was almost a moral victory. This year, the Indians beat that same team, and they did it soundly and with no satisfaction of ending their year next week. The Indians scored in all three phases, which will almost guarantee a victory, and got a huge defensive effort from safety Cody Hunter with two interceptions — one pick-six and another returned inside the Springtown 5-yard line.
SG: I thought this season would be a rebuilding year at Sanger. Sanger lost a ton of talent from last year’s team (Tre’von Jackson, Brance Watts, Brandon Mann), but in walks C.J. Jackson, Peyton Howard and a nasty defense to boot, and the Indians are no worse for wear. Sanger is one of the more well-rounded teams in Class 4A and proved that in Friday’s win over Springtown with a pick-6, kickoff return for a score and 341 yards of offense.