Denton Ryan players run onto the field before a high school football game between Frisco Lone Star and Denton Ryan at C. H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, Texas Friday September 16, 2016. (Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News)
Playoffs baby! I’m sure we can all agree it’s been a rather quick regular season, and an exciting one at that. But now it’s time to move on to the Main Event – the 2016 postseason.
So sit back and enjoy as my sidekick Adam Boedeker and I take a look back at what got us to this point.
Ryan at Wichita Falls Rider
SG: I think everyone expected Ryan to be exactly where it is right now heading into the playoffs – unbeaten and the top seed in Division I. Now the only question left is can the Raiders live up to all the hype and take their hot winning streak all the way through the state championship game? Thursday’s first round game at Fort Worth Brewer looks to be a cake walk, but after that the playoff road gets tough as they’ll likely face Richland followed in order (my opinion) by Amarillo, Colleyville Heritage and either Highland Park or Mansfield Lake Ridge before they can play in the title game. That’s just my opinion on the playoff road, so take it with a grain of salt. Regardless, the Raiders have to get there first.
AB: For six weeks now, Ryan has gone without a real test, and judging by score alone this was its biggest one. I’m sure there were other factors involved in that score, and whether anyone would admit it, I’m betting some of it had to do with looking ahead to the postseason. It’s OK and it’s understandable. Ryan simply hasn’t been tested in a while, and the Raiders won’t be any time real soon either. The machine is going to keep rolling along for a few more weeks before things get real in Round 4. At some point, Ryan is going to be tested, and you hope it won’t stun them when they are.
Guyer vs Plano West
SG: Guyer won Friday – easily I might add — but I can’t take my mind off the news that running back Myron Mason dislocated his elbow in a freak pregame mishap and will be out of action several weeks at best. That’s a huge blow to a Wildcat offense that, really, has been able to bull its way over opponents with a powerful run game. It will be interesting to see what Guyer does going forward, but head coach John Walsh still has plenty of bullets in the arsenal with Christian Moore, quarterback Luke Stillwell and, of course, Noah Cain. Guyer opens the playoffs against Trophy Club Nelson.
AB: Like most games this season, Guyer’s defense was dominant in the Wildcats’ regular-season ending win over Plano West. Through 10 regular-season games, they allowed 20.5 points per game, but if you take out two losses to the top two teams in the state Class 6A poll (Allen and DeSoto), that number drops to a staggering 11.2 points per game. The worst part of this game for Guyer was what happened before it when a freak accident saw star running back Myron Mason suffer a break and dislocation in his elbow. Christian Moore filled in admirably with over 100 total yards and a touchdown, and Noah Cain did his usual Noah Cain things. It’ll be interesting to see how Guyer’s offense looks with a full week of practice with Moore in Mason’s spot. I don’t expect much drop-off, if any at all, as Moore is basically a $1 million insurance policy most teams don’t have.
Denton vs Braswell
SG: This game went about as well as anyone would have expected. Denton’s lone loss in district came at the hands of Ryan, which means it will face Justin Northwest in the first round. The good news is Denton will get Northwest at home, but this is a really tough first round matchup. Northwest is a really good team this year and is certainly tested coming out of a district that includes Aledo. Denton is no slouch, but it will be interesting to see what happens. As for Braswell, the pains of this season are finally over and the Bengals’ coaching staff can start molding this team during a true offseason. Big things are ahead for the Bengals.
AB: Denton finished up its fine-tuning for the postseason with a unique game against Braswell, where several of the Bengals’ players were formerly part of Denton’s program before Braswell opened in August. The Bengals saw their season come to an end with an 0-10 record but gradually saw improvements across the board heading into their first true offseason. Denton, on the other hand, is 9-1 and in a rare first-round playoff matchup up 9-1 teams as the Broncos prepare to take on Justin Northwest. It’s sure to be one of the best first-round games in 5A.
Lake Dallas vs Prosper
SG: I have a ton of respect for Lake Dallas and its coach, Michael Young. But most people may have thought this was a loss for the Falcons coming into the game. In fact, with a playoff berth completely out of the equation, even I figured with Prosper’s unbeaten district record that it was a foregone conclusion the Falcons would lose. That didn’t happen, though, and it’s a sign of some great things to come for a program that for all intents and purposes was extremely young following last year’s magical ride to the state semifinals. Young’s squad should not be counted out going forward.
AB: This year didn’t go as the Falcons and head coach Michael Young planned. Lake Dallas battled the injury bug all year and were simply outmanned at some spots on the field, and last week, the Falcons were officially eliminated from postseason contention. That meant they were playing for one thing on Friday, and they sure did get a lot it — pride. The Falcons beat the previously unbeaten-in-district-play Prosper Eagles with a last-minute touchdown run from senior Brendan Contreras. The game also saw the return to action for senior quarterback Spencer Frederickson, who spent most of the season on the sideline due to injury.
Argyle vs Burkburnett
SG: We keep talking about Argyle each week because, well, the Eagles are the No. 2 team in Class 4A. Plus, they just have so many weapons that, just like Ryan, we expect another long playoff run. So can you really blame us? Argyle will face a one-win team in Snyder in the first round, and after that will do a ton of travelling as it attempts to make it back to its fourth-straight state title game. Right now, I think they have all the ingredients – namely a solid dual-threat QB and a running back in Don Williams who has become a lights-out option on offense.
AB: A big second quarter was kickstarted by a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Slater Wright, and Argyle ended up rolling to another home win against an overmatched Burkburnett team. Don Williams rushed for four touchdowns and Dane Ledford threw for 273 yards and two scores, and now comes the postseason. The Eagles open things up against a Snyder team with one — yes, ONE — win, like on the season. That’s really happening.
Liberty Christian at Fort Worth Nolan
SG: Liberty is on a roll right now after booting a field goal in the waning seconds to knock off Nolan Catholic. That’s four-straight wins for the Warriors, who enter the postseason against a familiar district foe in Bishop Dunne. Liberty beat Dunne two weeks ago, but if that’s going to happen again, the Warriors may have to do it without starting quarterback Jon Copeland. Copeland was hit hard late in Friday’s win and, according to head coach Barton Hundley, is day to day.
AB: The Warriors are going into the postseason on a high note after pulling out a dramatic win over rival Fort Worth Nolan on Friday. And it was all thanks to the foot of Cameron Baller, who on Friday night was, well, a baller. His 26-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter broke a scoreless fourth-quarter tie and gave Liberty Christian a win heading into the playoffs. Now, they’ll await the status of star quarterback Jon Copeland, who accounted for almost 300 yards and threw three touchdown passes before leaving with an undisclosed injury.