Guyer’s Walsh heaping praise on offensive line

Guyer head coach John Walsh high-fives players coming off the field against Southlake Carroll, Saturday, November 22, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer head coach John Walsh high-fives players coming off the field against Southlake Carroll, Saturday, November 22, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. David Minton/DRC

I’ve been covering Guyer football since that monumental 1-9 season in 2007, and even heading into that season, the Wildcats had two future Big 12 offensive linemen.

Since then, not much has changed, except for the Wildcats’ run of success that has seen them post a 94-22 record since the 2008 season began. In that time, the Wildcats mixed in a trip to the title game in the state’s largest classification (something no other Denton ISD program has accomplished) and back-to-back titles in the old Class 4A in 2012 and 2013.

Through all those successful seasons, there’s been a constant at Guyer — a really strong offensive line and a dominant rushing attack.

With all that said, this year’s prospects in those two areas look to be the strongest in program history. It starts with the running back tandem of senior Myron Mason, who could be a Division I running back by season’s end and sophomore Noah Cain, who was recently ranked as the top back in the Class of 2019 nationally and has several big-time offers after a great freshman year.

But those guys need help, and the offensive line should be ready to provide it this year despite returning just one starter in right guard Colton Kubicek (6-2, 270). Joining him are left tackle John Lanz (6-4, 260), who Walsh swears will be an FBS player, left guard Blake Watson (6-3, 240), who started for Flower Mound last year, center Dylan Alexander (5-11, 245) and right tackle Josh Nicholson (6-2, 230).

Wondering how the Wildcats could be better up front than ever, perhaps, despite four new faces? I was, too.

“We’ve had some really good offensive lines here,” Walsh said. “I’m really excited about this one because they have the talent the others have had but from left to right, it’s business every day, no nonsense, blue-collar and they’re extremely intelligent. When you have that going on up front you don’t have to be too special behind them.

“But we feel like we’re pretty special behind them.”

 

What you need to know: Mansfield Lake Ridge

Mansfield Lake Ridge head coach Kirk Thor receives the trophy after their big win over Aledo in the 5A Div I State Semifinal game at Birdville Fine Arts Complex in North Richland Hills, Texas, Friday, December 11, 2015. Lake Ridge won and is moving onto the State Championship for the first time in their short school history. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Mansfield Lake Ridge head coach Kirk Thor receives the trophy after their big win over Aledo in the 5A Div I State Semifinal game at Birdville Fine Arts Complex in North Richland Hills, Texas, Friday, December 11, 2015. Lake Ridge won and is moving onto the State Championship for the first time in their short school history. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

After months and months of waiting and weeks and weeks of hype, the regular season is here, and once again, Guyer will be a force to be reckoned with on the state landscape in Class 6A after a somewhat surprising run to the regional final a year ago.

Also, once again, the Wildcats will play a fierce nondistrict schedule starting with Mansfield Lake Ridge, which was one nightmarish, injury-laden state championship game away from hoisting the Class 5A Division I state championship trophy in just its fourth year of existence.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at what to expect as the regular season finally opens.

The Game: Guyer (0-0) vs. Mansfield Lake Ridge (0-0), 7:30 p.m., at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex. Guyer enters the season in the fourth “others receiving votes” spot, or 14th, in the preseason Class 6A Associated Press state poll. Lake Ridge enters the year tied for 11th in the first “ORV” slot, and oddly, got one first-place vote.

Series Record: This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

What happened last week: Well, one of those fake games, as I like to call them. I was at Guyer’s scrimmage against traditional state power Euless Trinity, and walked away not being exactly sure what I’d just seen. Guyer’s first team dominated the Trojans’ first-teamers, but I’m not so sure this year’s Trinity squad is the typical Trinity squad. Regardless, the Wildcats looked good. Lake Ridge also scrimmaged, and according to Guyer coach John Walsh looked much like the team that took the state by storm a year ago, only with a few new faces. Lake Ridge actually lost 47 players to graduation and a staggering 81 percent of its total offense — mostly quarterback Jett Duffey and running back Duke Carter, who were both injured before the state championship game loss last year.

What to expect: This is going to be a good game between two athletic teams with a lot of swagger. Sure, Duffey is gone and he was a transcendent player, but the Eagles now have junior Jason Bean under center and he already has an offer from SMU despite never having started a varsity game. Guyer will be shorthanded on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense. Middle linebacker Caleb Bridges suffered a broken collarbone in last week’s scrimmage and is out 6-8 weeks, meaning outside linebacker Tucker Nitardy will move to the middle and Trevon Turner will step in for Nitardy. The biggest absence will be that of Thabo Mwaniki, a two-way standout who’s committed to Oklahoma State. Mwaniki is a starting wide receiver and safety for Guyer but won’t be at the game as he’ll be overseas for funeral services for his father. That will mean a good challenge for some new faces from a Lake Ridge offense loaded with athletes.

Final say: I think Lake Ridge will give Guyer a good game, but ultimately, as long as Guyer doesn’t turn the ball over too much, the Wildcats will pull away in the fourth quarter and take advantage of Lake Ridge’s man-press defense that is hard to execute against good, athletic offenses.

Prediction: Guyer 38, Mansfield Lake Ridge 24

What you need to know: Lancaster

Sean Steffen / Amarillo Globe-News Denton Ryan's Tamar Butts returns a punt 74-yards for a touchdown against Tascosa Monday, November 30, 2015 during a Class 6A Regional game at Dick Bivins Stadium in Amarillo.

Sean Steffen / Amarillo Globe-News Denton Ryan’s Tamar Butts returns a punt 74-yards for a touchdown against Tascosa Monday, November 30, 2015 during a Class 6A Regional game at Dick Bivins Stadium in Amarillo.

Nearly a month’s worth of practices and scrimmages are in the books and it’s finally time to talk about the regular season. If you didn’t get a chance to grab a copy of the Denton Record-Chronicle’s award-winning (8 times, people) magazine on newsstands now, you need to!

But because I’m a nice guy, the link to the online version can be found here.

Meanwhile, we have a Week I to breakdown. And for Ryan fans, that means Ryan vs Lancaster. This is a top 10 matchup, folks. Ryan is No. 3 in the Associated Press Class 5A state poll, and Lancaster is No. 10. Lancaster is one of three state-ranked teams the Raiders have to play in the first four weeks of the season.

It should be a doozy between two teams that advanced to the state quarterfinals in their respective classifications last year. I will have a longer game advance in tomorrow’s paper. For now, here’s some quick info.

 The Game: Ryan (0-0) at Lancaster (0-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Beverly D. Humphrey Tiger Stadium in Dallas.

Series Record: Believe it or not, this is the first-ever meeting between the schools.

What happened last week: Both teams held their final scrimmages of the preseason. Ryan looked great in its first scrimmage, but it was hard to replicate that effort last week against Rockwall-Heath when the scrimmage was moved indoors due to inclement weather. Both teams came into fall workouts shouldering high expectations after the Raiders went 13-1 in Class 6A in 2015. Lancaster finished 10-4 in Class 5A and went just as deep in the postseason.

What to expect: A great game. I have read as much as I can on Lancaster, and the Tigers are dangerous with big-play receivers Omar Manning and Cartrell Thomas. Both combined for more than 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns last year. Lancaster has a stingy defense, too, but what stands out to me is an intriguing matchup between Lancaster’s high-flying offense and a loaded Ryan defense. If Ryan has inexperience anywhere on its veteran defense, it’s in the secondary with first-year guys Jordan Rucker and Kosi Eldridge stepping into leading roles. But everyone has been extremely high on the both of them, and not to mention, they are surrounded by returning stars Delano Robinson (SMU), Tamar Butts (he will also play running back) and Randy Gray. Ryan has incredible punch up front on its defensive line, and let’s not forget its own offense knows how to stretch a field and light up the scoreboard with Spencer Sanders, Gabriel Douglas and Tauskie Dove to name a few.

Final say: As good as Lancaster is, I think Ryan’s offense is explosive and its defense will provide more than enough pressure to make finding Manning and Thomas difficult for first-year Tigers quarterback Trevor Hatton. In the end, the Raiders overwhelm their opponent in the season opener.

Prediction: Ryan 31, Lancaster 20

What you need to know: Haslet Eaton

Braswell High School football players on the school's first ever football practice

It’s finally here! After years of planning, preparing and eventually building Denton’s fourth high school, Braswell, the Bengal football team is prepping to play its first opponent — also in its first year playing a varsity schedule — Haslet Eaton.

After 18 practices, a couple of scrimmages in the mix, and three days of classes, coach Cody Moore, his staff and the rest of the Bengals are ready to kick off their inaugural season tomorrow.

The Game: Braswell (0-0) at Haslet Eaton (0-0), Thursday, 7:00 p.m. at Northwest ISD Stadium

What happened last week: Braswell scrimmaged Grapevine Faith and Eaton squared off against Midlothian Heritage for its final tuneup. During the live quarter portion of the scrimmage, Braswell’s defense flew to the ball carrier, played physical and recovered two fumbles. Its largest concern was the lack of pressure applied in the backfield. Faith ball carriers burst through the Bengals’ interior defensive line, oftentimes untouched until they got to the second level of the defense.

Moore said his defense played phenomenal, and hopes it continues against Eaton.

What to expect: Two teams trying to find a rhythm on both sides of the ball. Between Braswell’s hurry-up offense and Eaton relying heavily on its running back, Titus Swen, it’ll all come down to what team can execute. Braswell hopes to execute its offense in order to give its defense ample rest to prepare for Swen. The offense must move the ball, and recently, it hasn’t shown it can very well. Expect Eaton to spread the wealth, but also give Swen his touches in the running and passing game. The sophomore tailback currently holds an offer from SMU. He could see between 20 and 30 touches a game, so the Braswell defense will have to key on him.

Final say: It sounds simple, but with two teams never taking a varsity snap, I think the team that scores first will have the upper hand from kickoff to the final whistle blow. It’s a jump on ‘em early or not at all bout.

Prediction: Braswell 14, Haslet Eaton 10

Former Guyer QB named DeSoto starter

Denton Guyer High School quarterback Shawn Robinson (3) throws a pass as he is pressured by San Angelo Central High School defensive tackle Jordan Schellhase (41) during the second quarter as Denton Guyer High School hosted San Angelo Central High School at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, November 27, 2015.  (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Denton Guyer High School quarterback Shawn Robinson (3) throws a pass as he is pressured by San Angelo Central High School defensive tackle Jordan Schellhase (41) during the second quarter as Denton Guyer High School hosted San Angelo Central High School at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, November 27, 2015. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

After there appeared to be (at least somewhat of) a quarterback competition going on in the spring involving former Guyer standout Shawn Robinson and Courtney Douglas at Robinson’s new school DeSoto, the Eagles have reportedly pulled the trigger and named Robinson their starter under center just a few days before they open the 2016 season against Jesuit on Friday.

Robinson, who starred at Guyer as a sophomore and junior after transferring from Saginaw Chisholm Trail following his freshman season, transferred to DeSoto back in April after his mom, Andrea, and dad, Othell, each landed coaching jobs at DeSoto.

Robinson battled a hamstring injury in the spring and last year’s backup at DeSoto, Douglas, was reportedly holding his own in holding off the highly touted four-star recruit in Robinson. But it appears, for the time anyway, Robinson has gotten the nod.

The Dallas Morning News received an email from DeSoto head coach Todd Peterman confirming the decision.

Robinson, a TCU pledge, inherits a team full of FBS commits on the offensive line and at wide receiver, so if he can stay healthy he should be be able to thrive. Of course, DeSoto hosts Guyer on Sept. 2 in what should be a complete circus in terms of hype.

Robinson put up monster numbers as a sophomore at Guyer but struggled at times as a junior, especially in the passing game. In the postseason, however, he took over a couple of games and finished with 1,474 yards passing yards and 11 touchdowns, with eight interceptions for Guyer. He led the team with 1,678 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

Football: Ryan lineman Javaris Steward commits to UTSA

Ryan sophomore defensive end Javaris Steward (9) wraps up Justin Northwest senior quarterback Jesse Drummer (16), Friday, October 31, 2014, at Northwest ISD Stadium in Justin, TX. David Minton/DRC

Ryan sophomore defensive end Javaris Steward (9) wraps up Justin Northwest senior quarterback Jesse Drummer (16), Friday, October 31, 2014, at Northwest ISD Stadium in Justin, TX. David Minton/DRC

Ryan High School defensive lineman Javaris Steward announced Friday that he has verbally committed to Texas-San Antonio, possibly putting an end to an intriguing recruiting process that saw him decommit from two high-profile programs.

The 6-3, 245-pound senior had previously committed to USC in October before switching to UCLA in February. He decommitted from the Bruins roughly two months later and said prior to Ryan’s scrimmage against Richland on Friday that he has been speaking to the coaching staff at UTSA ever since.

“I’ve been hit up on Twitter by a few people who hope that I stick with this school this time,” Steward said. “I just didn’t feel comfortable [with USC or UCLA]. I think this is the right fit this time. I think I’m going to stick with it.”

Verbal commitments are nonbinding. The first day a class of 2017 recruit can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 1.

Steward bolsters a Ryan defense that returns eight starters and already features three Football Bowl Subdivision recruits in linebacker/running back Tyreke Davis (North Texas), defensive lineman Earnest Brown IV (Northwestern) and versatile defensive back Delano Robinson (SMU).

Steward, who is projected to play defensive tackle and end, played for Ryan as a sophomore before moving to California for family reasons. His mother later passed away and he played his entire junior season for Pomona (Calif.).

He returned to Ryan in March. Ryan, which went 13-1 last season in Class 6A, is now the No. 3 team in the Associated Press Class 5A state poll.

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.

 

 

 

AP Preseason Poll: Argyle No. 1 in Class 4A, Ryan No. 3 in 5A

Argyle head coach Todd Rodgers on the sideline against Navasota, in the UIL Class 4A Division 1 State Championship game, Friday, December 19, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. David Minton/DRC

Argyle head coach Todd Rodgers on the sideline against Navasota, in the UIL Class 4A Division 1 State Championship game, Friday, December 19, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. David Minton/DRC

The Associated Press preseason football poll is out, and as expected, two Denton-area teams have landed in the Top 3.

Argyle, which has played in a state title game four out of the last five seasons, is the No. 1 team in Class 4A. The Eagles are just ahead of West Orange-Stark and Waco La Vega. La Vega edged Argyle in last year’s title game.

In Class 5A, Denton Ryan came in at No. 3 behind Aledo and Cedar Park. The Raiders finished 13-1 last year in the state’s largest classification and are a favorite to compete for a state championship.

The complete list is below. Guyer and Lake Dallas were in the “others receiving votes” section for their respective classifications.

Class 6A

1. Katy (14) 220
2. Lake Travis (5) 195
3. Cedar Hill (3) 182
4. Allen (2) 152
5. Austin Westlake 128
6. DeSoto 96
7. Cibolo Steele 95
8. Galena Park North Shore 80
9. Euless Trinity 37
10. Converse Judson 34

Others receiving votes: 11, Richmond George Ranch 33. 12, Southlake Carroll 23. 13, The Woodlands 12. 14, Denton Guyer 10. 15, Longview 6. 15, Mansfield 6. 17, Smithson Valley 3. 18, Lufkin 2. 18, Friendswood 2. 20, Pearland 1. 20, Rockwall 1. 20, Tyler 1. 20, Hewitt Midway 1.

Class 5A

1. Aledo (7) 218
2. Cedar Park (9) 209
3. Denton Ryan (7) 197
4. Manvel 130
5. Temple 116
6. Frisco Lone Star 97
7. Dallas Highland Park 92
8. CC Calallen 60
9. Richmond Foster 58
10. Lancaster 30

Others receiving votes: 11, Crosby 27. 11, Mansfield Lake Ridge (1) 27. 13, Angleton 16. 14, Ennis 6. 14, Lake Dallas 6. 14, Texarkana Texas 6. 17, College Station 5. 18, Boerne Champion 4. 19, Marshall 3. 19, Bryan 3. 21, Colleyville Heritage 2. 21, Mesquite Poteet 2. 21, Frisco Liberty 2. 21, EP Chapin 2. 25, Mansfield Summit 1. 25, Abilene Cooper 1.

Class 4A

1. Argyle (9) 210
2. West Orange-Stark (12) 195
3. Waco La Vega (2) 138
4. Navasota (1) 135
5. Carthage 119
6. Gilmer 116
7. Celina 88
8. Abilene Wylie 75
9. Texarkana Liberty-Eylau 60
10. Kennedale 54

Others receiving votes: 11, Cuero 52. 12, Liberty Hill 21. 13, China Spring 18. 14, La Grange 13. 15, Bellville 8. 16, Stafford 5. 17, Kilgore 3. 17, Brownwood 3. 19, Henderson 2. 19, Terrell 2. 21, Sweetwater 1. 21, Silsbee 1. 21, Sinton 1.

Class 3A

1. Brock (9) 210
2. Mineola (10) 184
3. Cameron Yoe (1) 178
4. Canadian (1) 132
5. Waskom (1) 129
6. Newton (2) 115
7. Malakoff 80
8. Franklin 77
9. Wall 46
10. East Bernard 26

Others receiving votes: 11, Sunnyvale 23. 12, La Marque 17. 13, Crockett 15. 14, Boling 14. 15, Cisco 13. 16, Arp 11. 16, Pottsboro 11. 18, Teague 8. 19, Grandview 7. 20, Blanco 6. 21, Mathis 5. 22, White Oak 4. 23, Rockdale 3. 23, Idalou 3. 25, Hallettsville 1. 25, Odem 1. 25, Eastland 1.

Stillwell now officially ‘the guy’ as Guyer hits field

Denton Guyer High School quarterback Luke Stillwell (18) tries to escape the grasp of San Angelo Central High School defensive end Elbert Paulk III (33) during the third quarter as Denton Guyer High School hosted San Angelo Central High School at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, November 27, 2015.  (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Denton Guyer High School quarterback Luke Stillwell (18) tries to escape the grasp of San Angelo Central High School defensive end Elbert Paulk III (33) during the third quarter as Denton Guyer High School hosted San Angelo Central High School at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, November 27, 2015. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Luke Stillwell was seemingly born to be the starting quarterback at Guyer High School.

When the Wildcats take the field for their season opener against Mansfield Lake Ridge on Aug. 26, it will be Stillwell who starts the game under center.

It’s what was meant to be. It’s just a year earlier than planned after star quarterback Shawn Robinson transferred to DeSoto in the spring, thrusting Stillwell into the spotlight.

On Monday morning as the sun was rising, Stillwell was leading what is now his team during the Wildcats’ first workout.

“It feels like it is my team now,” said Stillwell, a 6-4, 190-pound junior who was attending Guyer football camps at the program’s inception in the mid-2000s. “We have so much talent all over the field, but I kind of feel like it’s my team to take over and take control of. It feels like it’s my turn.”

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Raiders practice in pads, and other football tidbits

Defensive coordinator, coach Shane Tolleson, shouts instructions to his players on the first day of practice Monday.

Defensive coordinator, coach Shane Tolleson, shouts instructions to his players on the first day of practice Monday.

The first week of Texas high school football practice is in the books for most area teams, with Friday being the first day they were allowed to practice in full pads.

There’s not a ton to report from Ryan’s first padded workout, but you could tell from being there that the intensity was kicked up a notch and players were eager to line up and hit someone as opposed to just being in helmets and shorts.

The Raiders practiced early and were able to finish their entire workout by roughly 8:30 a.m. this morning. Head coach Dave Henigan cut his players loose a little early instead of sending them over to the weight room.

DEFENSIVE LINE

I mentioned this earlier in the week, but thanks to two move-ins, Ryan has plenty of depth on its defensive line. Kaelin Murray (end), Thomas Wilson III (end) and Earnest Brown IV (tackle) all are returning starters from last year, but the addition of experienced linemen Dayton LeBlanc (tackle) and Javaris Steward (tackle and end) give them similar depth to what they had last year despite losing Ken McLaurin (SMU) and Mario Caballero to graduation.

LeBlanc and Steward both have varsity experience, with Steward having played at Ryan as a sophomore before moving to California for his junior season. LeBlanc came from Petal (Miss.) and also plays offensive line.

Henigan said all five linemen are considered starters.

THE 2016 SCHEDULE

The Raiders’ schedule has been out for a while now, but I posted it below for those of you who haven’t seen it yet (you’re welcome). Ryan did not hold spring workouts, so it has two scrimmages this year against Richland (next Friday) and Rockwall-Heath. The regular season opener is at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at Lancaster.

Ryan plays four of its first six regular season games on the road. The schedule also includes three Thursday night tilts, and two trips to Wichita Falls.

DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
8/12 Richland (scrimmage) 7:30 p.m. Ryan
8/19 @ Rockwall-Heath (scrimmage) 7:30 p.m. (tentative) Heath
8/26 @ Lancaster 7:30 p.m. Beverly Humphrey Stadium
9/2 @ Mesquite Poteet 7:30 p.m. Mesquite Memorial Stadium
9/8 (Thurs) @ Wylie East 7:00 p.m. Wylie ISD Stadium
9/16 Frisco Lone Star 7:00 p.m. C.H. Collins Athletic Complex
9/23 *Denton 7:00 p.m. C.H. Collins Athletic Complex
9/29 (Thurs) *@ Denton Braswell 7:00 p.m. C.H. Collins Athletic Complex
10/7 BYE    
10/14 *Sherman 7:00 p.m. C.H. Collins Athletic Complex
10/21 *@ Wichita Falls 7:00 p.m. Memorial Stadium
10/27 (Thurs) *Denison 7:00 p.m. C.H. Collins Athletic Complex
11/4 *@ Wichita Falls Rider 7:00 p.m. Memorial Stadium

 

Guyer’s Cain named country’s top ’19 RB

Guyer freshman running back Noah Cain (22) evades a tackle by Southlake Carroll junior defensive back Jake Murphy (18), Friday, November 20, 2015, at Eagle Stadium in Allen, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer freshman running back Noah Cain (22) evades a tackle by Southlake Carroll junior defensive back Jake Murphy (18), Friday, November 20, 2015, at Eagle Stadium in Allen, TX. David Minton/DRC

If there’s one thing I have known about Guyer sophomore Noah Cain since, oh, about the Keller game last year, it’s that he is really good at running with a football in his hands.

See what I mean?

Well, all that hype and all those accolades were given some “oomph” on Wednesday afternoon when recruiting site 247 Sports released its initial rankings for the Class of 2019.

Cain, who’s 5-11 and now a hair over 200 pounds, missed the better part of four games last year with a broken hand, but still managed to rack up 1,058 yards on 112 carries (9.4 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns while adding another score through the air.

And now, he’s ranked as the nation’s top running back in his class and as the No. 5 player overall nationally. The sophomore-to-be is poised for a huge season as a part of what is sure to be a dynamic Guyer rushing attack with Cain, seniors Myron Mason and Christian Moore and junior quarterback Luke Stillwell.

Cain already has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Kansas, Miami, Oklahoma State, SMU, Texas A&M and Tulsa and is sure to get a lot more in the next few years.