District titles were decided in two big rivalry games in the area, and another was won on the road out in Wichita Falls. Steve Gamel and I look back at what was an exciting weekend in area high school football in our weekly recap.
Ryan at Guyer
AB: Steve likes to make it sound like I thought Guyer winning was a slam dunk, but that’s far from the truth. I will say this: I thought Ryan would have to force some turnovers to beat Guyer, and the Raiders didn’t. They just beat Guyer. It was impressive. I didn’t think Guyer played badly. In fact, after their first three drives against Ryan’s vaunted defense, they led 14-7 — a pretty good place to be in. After that, the Wildcats were outscored 24-0 before they found the scoreboard again. Guyer head coach John Walsh said his offense didn’t execute in the second half. I don’t have a keen enough football eye to notice that, but I thought it was a well-played game by both teams. Ryan’s defense is every bit as good as advertised despite giving up a season-high 28 points. Shawn Robinson had his best game of the year against the second-best defense he’s seen all year, and that’s a good sign moving forward for the Wildcats. I think both of these teams are going to be tough outs in the playoffs though both will be underdogs in their second-round matchups. Oh, and one more thing: I was uber impressed with Ryan sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders. Dude had an amazing night.
SG: Several members of the Ryan coaching staff came up to me before Friday night’s showdown to say they were surprised I picked them to beat Guyer. Apparently, I was in the minority. One prediction had Guyer rolling up 42 points. Another one said Guyer would at least score 31. Either way, unbeaten Ryan was a decided underdog coming in. That says a ton about Guyer and what they can and have done on both sides of the ball. But the Raiders’ win says a lot for how far they’ve come dating back to last year’s 5-5 finish. Ryan is the top seed in Class 6A Division I, and should be recognized as a top-tier team. The key was Ryan’s offense. Spencer Sanders guided a unit that struggled with consistency throughout district play to a mistake-free 31-28 win. Guyer played great despite the loss — especially quarterback Shawn Robinson, who I can’t say enough of — and should be more than fine going forward.
Denton at Wichita Falls
AB: As good as Guyer and Ryan both are, I’m starting to think that outside of Argyle, the Broncos might be best set up to make a deep playoff run. Denton came from behind and got a game-winning field goal to beat Wichita Falls on the road on Thursday and cap their season with yet another win. Xavier Scott is a running back you can lean on in the playoff run, and I fully expect the Broncos to do just that even though they like to fling the ball around – it’s a lot easier to turn around and hand it off. The Broncos made history by claiming their first district title since the year after I graduated from high school (that’s a long time ago, folks) and now they have a chance to make more, and more meaningful, history in the coming weeks.
SG: It came down to a field goal, and that’s totally OK. Congrats to the Broncos for clinching the District 5-5A crown for the first time since 1999 on a night where they had to travel to Wichita Falls and rise up against a solid Coyote team. Robert Reyes’ 24-yard boot couldn’t have come under more pressure. Per our own Patrick Hayslip, Denton quickly fell behind 13-0 before it could blink. The Broncos still trailed 20-7 early in the third quarter. After crawling all the way back, there was no way Reyes could miss that kick. And he didn’t. Xavier Scott did what he normally does and the defense came away with at least one turnover to put the Broncos in a position to win. Now comes the playoffs and a chance to make a seriously long run should all the stars align.
Sanger at Argyle
AB: I’ve seen both of these teams this year, and I was bummed that Guyer-Ryan was on the same night making it impossible for me to see this game. It was a game that featured strength vs. strength in Argyle’s offense and Sanger’s defense, and the Eagles won that matchup emphatically. Sanger’s defense is impressive, and to see what Dane Ledford & Co. did to the Indians is pretty remarkable, as Ledford accounted for four touchdowns, which is three more than the number of incompletions he had on the night. Both of these teams will be looking to make some noise in the postseason.
SG: The Argyle-Sanger rival game. Sanger came in unbeaten and with one of the saltiest defenses in Class 4A, but they couldn’t keep up with a near-perfect Eagle offense. Dane Ledford was 12-for-12 passing at one point in the game and finished with four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing). He only threw one incomplete pass while rolling up 269 yards through the air. Sanger lost out on the district crown, but should not be ashamed of its one-loss regular season. Both teams are playoff bound.
John Paul II at Liberty Christian
AB: Not really much to take from this result for the Warriors, who are heading into the playoffs next week, other than the fact their quarterback Nick Starkel can throw the pigskin. JPII didn’t have a win entering the game on Friday, and they surely don’t have one now after Starkel threw for more than 500 yards and found the end zone five times.
SG: I know this was a blowout, but I love a stat-heavy synopsis and this is one of those games. Liberty Christian rolled up 637 yards of offense against the winless Cardinals courtesy of the arm of OSU-bound Nick Starkel. Starkel completed 26 of his 36 passes for 503 yards and five touchdowns. Talk about going off! His TD passes went for 74, 62, 12, 87 and 38.
Anna at Aubrey
AB: Keith Ivy is a strong candidate for our All-Area Coach of the Year after turning around what looked to be another lean year in Aubrey and making the Chaps turn a corner early in the season en route to a somewhat surprising — OK, really surprising — playoff berth. They’ve done it simply, with a strong running game and an aggressive, attacking defense. Kudos to the Chaps.
SG: Aubrey’s rushing attack — which racked up 453 yards in a win over Anna — should be so much fun to watch in the postseason. John Delbosque and Pablo Vera both rushed for at least 165 yards in the win. Six of Aubrey’s touchdowns were on the ground, and it capped a solid comeback after a rough start to the season. The Chaps are playoff bound.