Weekend recap: Raider rebound

 

Ryan head coach Dave Henigan watches as Quarterback Spencer Sanders throws a pass during practice at Ryan High School Monday morning August 10, 2015, in Denton, Tx. Photo by Al Key/DRC Ryan head coach Dave Henigan watches as Quarterback Spencer Sanders throws a pass during practice at Ryan High School Monday morning August 10, 2015, in Denton, Tx. Photo by Al Key/DRC

Ryan head coach Dave Henigan watches as Quarterback Spencer Sanders throws a pass during practice at Ryan High School Monday morning August 10, 2015, in Denton, Tx. Photo by Al Key/DRC Ryan head coach Dave Henigan watches as Quarterback Spencer Sanders throws a pass during practice at Ryan High School Monday morning August 10, 2015, in Denton, Tx. Photo by Al Key/DRC

After a struggle in 2014, Ryan showed out and put on for its city by shocking a Rockwall team that started the 2014 season 12-0 before bowing out in the third round of the playoff. Granted, it was a different Rockwall team, but this is a different Ryan team. In a weekly staple, Steve and I will look at some of the previous week’s top games and it all starts with Ryan’s bounce-back victory to get the season started on the right foot.

Ryan at Rockwall

AB: This game was a tough one to pick because you had to figure Ryan was going to be better with Spencer Sanders back healthy under center and with eight games of varsity experience under his belt, not to mention an older, stronger, better Tyreke Davis and what looked to be a pretty stout defense. Rockwall, meanwhile, lost a ton of production from last year’s stellar team in running back Chris Warren and wide receiver Xavier Castille. Sanders put up some really nice numbers, rushing for nearly 200 yards and passing for 129 yards and a score, and the Ryan defense shut down a Rockwall offense trying to find its way. It’s always hard to judge too much from season openers — good or bad — but from a confidence standpoint, if nothing else, Friday’s win for Ryan was a biggie.

SG: An upset win for some football know-it-all writers, but not me. Check out my blog from last week and I predicted a 24-21 win. That’s a lot tighter than what happened – the Raiders won 31-14 – but it’s a win nonetheless. And what a great win it was for a program that had its 14-year playoff streak snapped last fall. Spencer Sanders was grinning from ear to ear on the field after the game, on a night where he rushed for 178 yards, passed for 129 and accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing) against a Rockwall team that went 12-1 last year. His 81-yard TD run in the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty, and proved this is a guy teams need to look out for. Defensively, Ryan was just as dominant – the unit allowed one TD early in the third and didn’t allow another until the game was out of reach.

Guyer at Allen

AB: Even when Guyer took a 10-7 lead midway through the second quarter over Allen, there was never a real strong feeling things were going to end well for the Wildcats. Guyer was out of rhythm offensively, and you got the feeling the defense would eventually get worn down from being on the field so much. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened and when the Wildcats botched a punt and gave Allen the ball at their 9-yard line to go up 21-10, that was pretty much all she wrote. At that point, the momentum and excitement surrounding the re-opening of Allen’s $60 million stadium proved to be way too much to overcome. Allen’s defense was by far the best Guyer will see this year, so fear not, Guyer nation, things will get better, and it’ll start this weekend against Ennis.

SG: So what? Yes, it would have been nice to see the Wildcats come away with a win, but losing to the greatness that is Allen is nothing to get too concerned about – especially for a season opener. Speaking of season openers, need I remind everyone that Guyer hasn’t won a season opener since 2011? It’s true, and year after year the Wildcats end up being one of the top teams in the state. If there is anything that surprised me, it was the score. I had Guyer winning by a touchdown and if memory serves my compadre, Mr. Boedeker, had them by four. No one expected a 48-16 thrashing. Guyer took the lead once, and after that, it was all Eagles. Next, it’s on to another defending state champ, Ennis.  Guyer did beat them last year, and I expect nothing short of a solid rebound game for the Wildcats.

Wilmer-Hutchins at Denton

AB: Give Denton credit for whupping up on a team they were supposed to whup up on. That hasn’t always happened, but in this new age of Bronco football, it does. The Broncos had a couple of questions going into the game, most notably how quarterback Colt Atkinson would perform in his first game as the starter. He didn’t disappoint, throwing for 271 yards and three scores while running back Xavier Scott cruised to 165 yards and four scores in a very Scott-like effort. Denton won’t be tested in non-district play. We’ll have to wait until what is a pretty good district slate to see what they’re really made of, but they appear to be on the verge of another successful season over on Fulton Street.

SG: There’s a ton of hype surrounding Denton this year after the team started off 6-0 in 2014 en route to a winning season and long-awaited playoff victory. With that being said, and I’m not trying to take anything away from Denton, but this score is not surprising at all given who they played. I’ve seen Wilmer-Hutchins play basketball, and they are one of the toughest outs in the postseason. In football … well … again, Denton was supposed to win this game. Xavier Scott did what Xavier Scott does in rushing for 165 yards and four touchdowns, and new Broncos quarterback Colt Atkinson tossed three touchdowns while passing for 271 yards. Overall, Wilmer-Hutchins was outgained 507-171 and trailed 39-6 by halftime. The competition will surely get tougher for Denton as the season rolls along, but this was a nice beat down to start the 2015 season.

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Three Things: Guyer at Allen

Guyer senior defensive end Tevan McAdams (8) celebrate after a play against Allen, in the 2015 Tom Landry Classic, Friday, August 28, 2015, in Allen, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer senior defensive end Tevan McAdams (8) celebrate after a play against Allen, in the 2015 Tom Landry Classic, Friday, August 28, 2015, in Allen, TX. David Minton/DRC

Well, Friday’s game was not what many people expected to see. A few folks picked Guyer to win, myself included, but just about everyone was predicting a tight game between two state-ranked teams.

It started out that way, but after Shawn Robinson’s highlight-reel 55-yard TD run gave Guyer a 10-7 lead midway through the second quarter, the Allen machine took over and rolled to a 48-16 win — the Eagles’ 44th straight win.

Here are three quick things I took away from the game, which went from good to bad pretty quickly for Guyer.

1. Guyer’s defense is going to be good: Guyer coach John Walsh has been playing up his defense all spring and summer, and on Friday, they showed they’re going to be a force. But they gave up 48 points, you say. Well, that happens when you’re on the field the majority of the game and you’re up against a really good football team. Two big reasons for Walsh’s enthusiasm are his bigger and better defensive ends, Cameron Wax and Tevan McAdams, and both displayed greatness on Friday. McAdams was in on nine tackles and had four behind the line of scrimmage with a sack. Wax was in on eight stops with three behind the line, a pass breakup, a sack and two QB hurries. That’s going up against the top player in the nation in Allen tackle Greg Little. They were also missing Ben Nwiba on Friday with a broken hand. He’s not a starter, but their fifth defensive lineman and a huge factor given that when he plays on the end, it allows Wax to move inside. They’re going to be a force for the rest of the season and present a ton of problems to opponents.

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What you need to know: Allen

Allen head coach Tom Westerberg (right) talks to Alex Robinson (left) as quarterback Seth Green (7) listens during afternoon practice on Aug. 10 in Allen. (G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News)

Allen head coach Tom Westerberg (right) talks to Alex Robinson (left) as quarterback Seth Green (7) listens during afternoon practice on Aug. 10 in Allen. (G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News)

Well, folks. Here we go. That annual #txhsfb grind begins on Friday, and Guyer’s game against Allen is quite possibly the biggest of a big slate of marquee games in the area in Week 1. It’s going to be spectacle city in Allen as the Eagles reopen their $60 million stadium after a year of structural fixes — as an aside, keep us in the press box in your thoughts — and there is even a sky-diving team set to jump out of an airplane and deliver the game ball. Boy, you just can’t get any more Allen and #txhsfb than that.

The game itself? Well, it should be a dandy between two teams ranked in the preseason top 10 of the Associated Press Class 6A state poll. Last year was the coming out party for Shawn Robinson, Guyer’s dynamic dual-threat quarterback who made his first start for the Wildcats against Allen last year. That was a game featuring a tremendous matchup at quarterback, but now all-World QB Kyler Murray is at Texas A&M and Allen must turn elsewhere under center. They have two options, and both are expected to play, in Minnesota move-in Seth Green, an Oregon commit, and Mitchell Jonke, who transferred to Allen from Lovejoy two years ago.

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Preseason questions: Game-changer?

The Guyer Wildcats are set to begin fall practice on Monday, and with days to go before that early morning practice comes, we’re going to take a look at five preseason questions/things to watch for in the upcoming season.

Guyer is set to open their 10th regular season in program history on Aug. 28 in the re-opening of Allen Eagle Stadium against the three-time defending Class 6A Division I state champion Eagles. Before that, the Wildcats scrimmage Euless Trinity and have a lot of practices leading up to that.

Question: The Wildcats have a history of utilizing some pretty good tight ends in the last seven or eight years. This year, they have what could be the next in line, and he’s a completely different animal. Can the Wildcats properly utilize Brian Polendey’s skill set?

Over the years, the Wildcats have had some really good tight ends, but for the most part, it’s basically been an extension of their stout offensive line and helped contribute to one of the best rushing attacks in the state on an annual basis. Names like Xavier Brown, Jonathan Pershall and Austin Otto stand out. One time, back in 2010, they had someone who could be heavily utilized in the passing game in Dominic Ramacher, but he was more of an H-back than a true tight end.

Now, the Wildcats have a unique weapon in the form of Brian Polendey, a 6-5, 240-pound tight end, and a tight end in the truest sense of the term these days. Think Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce, etc. That’s what Polendey has the chance to be.

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Preseason questions: Two-way troopers

Guyer's Thabo Mwaniki (30) tackles a Keller Central Charger during a game last season at C.H. Collins Stadium. Maegan Puetz/For the DRC

Guyer’s Thabo Mwaniki (30) tackles a Keller Central Charger during a game last season at C.H. Collins Stadium. Maegan Puetz/For the DRC

The Guyer Wildcats are set to begin fall practice on Monday, and with days to go before that early morning practice comes, we’re going to take a look at five preseason questions/things to watch for in the upcoming season.

Guyer is set to open their 10th regular season in program history on Aug. 28 in the re-opening of Allen Eagle Stadium against the three-time defending Class 6A Division I state champion Eagles. Before that, the Wildcats scrimmage Euless Trinity and have a lot of practices leading up to that.

Question: The Wildcats have a history with two-way players, even though it isn’t something that is too prevalent at the state’s largest classification. Josh Stewart was one of the best players in the state while starring at cornerback and wide receiver for Guyer before going on to Oklahoma State and then the Tennessee Titans. The Wildcats will rely on a couple of more two-way stars this year. Can they hold up?

In 2010, when the Wildcats advanced to the Class 5A Division II (now known as 6A) state championship game, they did it with a couple of studs going both ways at wide receiver and cornerback. It all started with Stewart, who racked up nearly 1,000 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns despite not playing on offense until the fifth game of the season. On defense, he racked up 85 tackles, broke up 12 passes and had seven interceptions. For good measure, he added a punt return touchdown.

They also had Quint Gardener, who missed several games due to injury but had 544 receiving yards with six touchdowns to go with 29 tackles, five breakups and four interceptions and was huge in the postseason on defense.

Will they have anyone like Stewart this year? If they do, look out. But even if they don’t, they’re going to have a couple of players who will seeing lots of action at wide receiver and in the secondary. Defense will be priority for cornerback Brandon Daniel and safety Thabo Mwaniki, but they’ll get on the field on offense in what Guyer coach John Walsh calls “money time.”

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Preseason questions: Man in the middle

 

Guyer linebacker Dharrius Timmons (25) brings down Keller's quarterback in a game last season at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex. David Minton/DRC

Guyer linebacker Dharius Timmons (25) brings down Keller’s quarterback in a game last season at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex. David Minton/DRC

The Guyer Wildcats are set to begin fall practice on Monday, and with a week to go before that early morning practice comes, we’re going to take a look at five preseason questions/things to watch for in the upcoming season.

Guyer is set to open their 10th regular season in program history on Aug. 28 in the re-opening of Allen Eagle Stadium against the three-time defending Class 6A Division I state champion Eagles. Before that, the Wildcats scrimmage Euless Trinity and have a lot of practices leading up to that.

Question: The Wildcats have had a pretty stellar run of great play from the middle linebacker spot, but Dharius Timmons has something many of them didn’t have — experience. Can he build on a solid junior year and be the next great one as a senior?

Last year as a junior in his first year starting for Guyer, Timmons racked up 91 tackles in 12 games with 13 coming behind the line of scrimmage. He added two sacks, four pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a recovery. Most importantly, he got a full year of experience under his belt at one of the most important positions on the Guyer defense, and one with a rich history in recent years.

Several key figures in Guyer’s football history have played the “Mike” in the Wildcats’ defense — most recently Dominic Ramacher, Terence Belton and Marcel Thomas. Those three names each got just one year as the starter in the middle. Timmons is about to enter his second year as the team’s starter.

For that reason, Timmons is far ahead of any of those three entering their senior seasons, and that should play heavily in his favor. He’s already a cerebral player with off-the-charts intelligence at the position. One thing Guyer coaches noted was that he has to shore up his tackling this year and become a more sure tackler, but he has everything else you want in a standout high school middle linebacker.

The experience he has is key, and it’ll be interesting to see what we’ll be saying about Timmons when this season comes to an end, whenever that may be.

Coming Thursday: Two-way troopers

From Tuesday: Filling a void

From Monday: Buying into bulk

Liberty-ex Lundblade earns scholarship at OSU

Just like that, former Liberty Christian offensive lineman Brad Lundblade, far right in the picture, was put on scholarship today by Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy.

It’s a neat deal for Lundblade, who turned down 10 Football Bowl Subdivision offers to walk on at Oklahoma State. That was a big risk to take, but one Lundblade had obviously thought a lot about.

After one year, it’s paid off for him, and it’s not a surprise.

As Kyle Fredrickson wrote back in April, Lundblade made his first career start against Baylor as a freshman walk-on center. It was overshadowed by freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph making his debut the same night, but it was equally impressive.

“We were in it together, and we were confident in what we could do,” Rudolph told the Oklahoman. “Whenever you kind of get thrown into the fire together, you’re going to have a special bond.”

It’s a good story of good fortune for Lundblade, who put himself at risk by passing up so many opportunities for a free education. But now, it’s one that’s paid off in a big way as he’s set to compete for the starting center job this fall and be a key player in the Big 12 for years to come.

 

Preseason questions: Filling a big ol’ void

Guyer wide receiver Brandon Daniel (16) celebrates a touchdown catch against Keller Fossil Ridge last season at C. H. Collins Athletic Complex.  Michael Clements/For the DRC

Guyer wide receiver Brandon Daniel (16) celebrates a touchdown catch against Keller Fossil Ridge last season at C. H. Collins Athletic Complex.
Michael Clements/For the DRC

The Guyer Wildcats are set to begin fall practice on Monday, and with a week to go before that early morning practice comes, we’re going to take a look at five preseason questions/things to watch for in the upcoming season.

Guyer is set to open their 10th regular season in program history on Aug. 28 in the re-opening of Allen Eagle Stadium against the three-time defending Class 6A Division I state champion Eagles. Before that, the Wildcats scrimmage Euless Trinity and have a lot of practices leading up to that.

Question: The Wildcats lost a huge chunk of production from the wide receiver position, leaving a gaping hole at an important unit in the Guyer offensive machine. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the country, but who will Shawn Robinson throw the ball to?

Shawn Robinson is the No. 1 dual threat quarterback in the country for the Class of 2017, and according to several recruiting services, would also be the top of any in the Class of 2016. In short, the kid is really, really good and has a chance to go down as the best quarterback Guyer has ever produced. That’s saying something given the Wildcats brief, albeit impressive, history at the position.

But there’s a big question surrounding Guyer as the Wildcats prepare to start practice next week: Who, exactly, is going to catch Robinson’s passes? Last year, Robinson completed 145 of his 238 pass attempts for 2,799 yards and 33 touchdowns. Of all of that, 22 of his 145 completions were to guys who return this year. Of those 2,799 yards, only 358 yards return. The touchdowns? That number dips to six.

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Preseason questions: Buying into bulk

Guyer defensive lineman Cameron Wax (22) brings down Southlake Carroll running back Lil' Jordan Humphrey in the Wildcats' playoff loss to the Dragons last November at AT&T Stadium. David Minton/DRC

Guyer defensive lineman Cameron Wax (22) brings down Southlake Carroll running back Lil’ Jordan Humphrey in the Wildcats’ playoff loss to the Dragons last November at AT&T Stadium. David Minton/DRC

The Guyer Wildcats are set to begin fall practice on Monday, and with a week to go before that early morning practice comes, we’re going to take a look at five preseason questions/things to watch for in the upcoming season.

Guyer is set to open their 10th regular season in program history on Aug. 28 in the re-opening of Allen Eagle Stadium against the three-time defending Class 6A Division I state champion Eagles. Before that, the Wildcats scrimmage Euless Trinity and have a lot of practices leading up to that.

Question: The Wildcats have six returning starters on defense and will be looking to shore up a run defense that had trouble containing at times last year, especially on the edge. Defensive end is a strength, and can bulked up versions of Tevan McAdams and Cameron Wax siphon more to the Wildcats’ play-making linebackers?

McAdams is one of those guys you look at and think, “Wow, that guy could be something really special.” He’s the brother of former Guyer standout and All-American defensive tackle Taylor Bible, and while their frames might be vastly different McAdams showed their play can be similar last year. At this point last year, McAdams was a speed edge rusher at 6-2, 210 pounds. Now, he’s added weight and looks to be a more traditional defensive end.

Wax might not have the athleticism that jumps off the page at you, but there were times last year, especially after Carl Thompson’s season-ending injury, when Wax was the most dominant force on the Guyer’s defensive front. Up from just 190 pounds a year ago, he has a starting gig solidified now and will bring a very real brand of physicality to the unit.

With those two setting the edge and all-world outside linebacker Michael Carrillo waiting to pick up the scraps, the year could end up being a really good one from a run defense perspective. Last year was by no means bad (172.4 yards per game over 12 games) but it can be better, and those two will be play a huge part in seeing that it is.

Coming Tuesday: Where will wide receiver production come from?

Former Guyer standout makes big jump for Yanks

Former Guyer catcher KJ Alexander rounds third base in a game back in 2009. Now, he's fresh off a promotion to Double-A in the Yankees organization after completely bypassing Class-A ball. DRC File Photo

Former Guyer catcher KJ Alexander rounds third base in a game back in 2009. Now, he’s fresh off a promotion to Double-A in the Yankees organization after completely bypassing Class-A ball. DRC File Photo

The day my story about Jacob Rhame’s recent promotion from High-A Rancho Cucamongo to Double-A Tulsa in the Los Angeles Dodgers system and the shorter it made his path to the big leagues ran on Saturday, I also got some other news on another former Guyer baseball standout making progress through the hierarchy of pro baseball.

Now Rhame’s former Guyer teammate KJ Alexander, aka Kevin Alexander, was promoted within the New York Yankees farm system, and it wasn’t the typical promotion.

The former Guyer star catcher, who went on to play for local powerhouse Dallas Baptist, had a pretty nice year in Rookie League last season with the Gulf Coast Yankees, hitting .304 with an .867 OPS, a homer and eight RBIs. He also walked 15 times to go with his 17 strikeouts.

But instead of starting the 2015 season back in the Rookie League, Alexander was called up, and not just to the logical next step of Class-A ball. Alexander got the call straight to Double-A Trenton, completely bypassing Class-A. He’s now on a roster loaded with some of the Yankees’ top prospects, and judging by the lofty promotion, he could be working his way into similar promise. Not bad at all for any prospect, especially not for an undrafted free agent signee.