In what is being billed as a battle of two great defenses, Ryan and Highland Park square off tomorrow at AT&T Stadium in a Class 5A Division I state semifinal. It’s a monster game considering it features two tradition-rich programs, plenty of storylines, and of course, the whole state title game berth on the line thing.
That means anything can happen. So sit back, relax and allow me to share some small nuggets of truth before my longer game advance in tomorrow’s Denton Record-Chronicle. Enjoy!
The Game: No. 4 Ryan (14-0) vs Highland Park (12-2), Saturday, 1:30 p.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Series Record: Ryan leads the all-time series 2-1. This is the first meeting since 2005, though incidentally, Ryan beat the Scots in the 2003 state semifinals to advance to what was their fourth-straight state title game.
What happened last week: Ryan beat Colleyville Heritage 24-10. Highland Park held off Mansfield Legacy, 14-7.
What to expect: Expect anything. Both defenses have played absolutely out of their mind all season long. Highland Park is giving up an average of 13.5 points per game while Ryan is averaging 16.1 points against through 14 games. That would make for a low-scoring game, but as I said, expect anything. Ryan’s offense is averaging just more than 40 points per game and features a Division I quarterback in Spencer Sanders, a Division I linebacker who also plays running back in Tyreke Davis and a Division I wide receiver in Gabriel Douglas. Add in receiver Tauskie Dove, who is Division I material in a lot of people’s minds, and you have a ton of weapons to contend with. Highland Park is here for a reason, though, and not only have the Scots made a career out of winning big games, they also don’t make a ton of mistakes.
Final say: I was talking to my compadre, Adam Boedeker, yesterday and he made the comment that I might be underestimating Highland Park. Quite the contrary. I’m not underestimating the Scots. I’d be stupid to do that. But with that said, I don’t think I am overestimating Ryan, either. My thoughts boil down to this: if Ryan wins, everyone will say they expected that to happen. If Highland Park were to win, many people would consider it an upset on some level. Also, Ryan is undefeated. So for the Scots, to be the man you have to beat the man.
Prediction: Ryan 30, Highland Park 14.