What you need to know: Mansfield

Arlington Lamar junior safety Tre'shun Miller (26) is unable to stop Mansfield junior running back Kennedy Brooks (5) from scoring a touchdown during the second half of a high school football playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Saturday, November 28, 2015. Mansfield won 34-29. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

Arlington Lamar junior safety Tre’shun Miller (26) is unable to stop Mansfield junior running back Kennedy Brooks (5) from scoring a touchdown during the second half of a high school football playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Saturday, November 28, 2015. Mansfield won 34-29. (Brandon Wade/Special Contributor)

It’s Game 14 now, and everyone left in the playoffs is a big boy. Guyer is experienced at deep runs, having been to the fourth round five times in school history, and winning all five of them. Mansfield is playing in December for the first time in school history, but don’t think that means they aren’t supposed to be here.

The Game: Mansfield (11-2) vs. Guyer (10-3), Saturday, 2 p.m., at Southlake’s Dragon Stadium

Series record: The teams have one previous meeting, in the 2011 area round. Mansfield ran away late with that game while Guyer struggled offensively thanks to seven sophomore starters, including Jerrod Heard.

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Weekend recap: Winner-winner, chicken dinner

Denton Guyer High School cornerback Dio Williams (38) celebrates an interception in the end zone to help secure the win in front of San Angelo Central High School wide receiver Cal Vincent (7) during the fourth 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 cornerback Dio Williams (38) celebrates an interception in the end zone to help secure the win in front of San Angelo Central High School wide receiver Cal Vincent (7) during the fourth 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)

Can you believe it? Every team in our coverage area playing in the third round won this week (with one still to play). Can’t say I saw that one coming (looking at you, Krum!). I think it’s safe to say this is the most teams we’ve ever had playing in the fourth round of the playoffs, and it’s come in a year we expected to be a down year for the area as a whole when the season began.

Without further delay, let Steve and I take you on a trip down memory lane to just a couple of days ago with our weekly recap.

Guyer vs San Angelo Central

AB: For a quarter, it looked like Guyer would once again literally run away with another playoff victory. Myron Mason had two touchdown runs early, including a long one, to give the Wildcats a pretty quick 14-0 lead over the seemingly overmatched Bobcats from West Texas. Then, Guyer allowed a kickoff return TD, and it was game on. Shawn Robinson wasn’t himself, and even got benched for a series in the third quarter, but to his credit he came back in and busted his one big run of the day — an 80-yarder —to set up a remarkable Hail Mary from 3 yards out (if that’s possible) to freshman wide receiver De’Vion Harmon to take the lead for good. Guyer pushed its lead to two scores in the closing minutes with a 75-yard score from Mason but Central rallied and had the ball throwing to the end zone to tie it as time expired. It was a gutty win for Guyer, whose offense wasn’t at full tilt, but the Wildcats got a great performance from its defense, led by PJ Broussard, Michael Carrillo and Dio Williams, against a really potent Central passing attack. Now, it’s on to the fourth round, a round in which Guyer is 5-0 all-time.

SG: Guyer found itself in a dogfight against San Angelo, saw its starting quarterback benched for a short period in the second half, and still found a way to come out with some late-game heroics in a 35-27 win. I wasn’t at this game so I’m not going to speculate on the reasons why Shawn Robinson was pulled in favor of Luke Stillwell. But whatever the reason may be, I expect Walsh and Robinson to figure it out by the time this Saturday’s game against Mansfield comes around. The Wildcats are still alive to fight another day, but Robinson and his ability to do the near impossible are a key factor in whether or not Guyer moves on to the state semifinals. This isn’t the time to let inner strife get in the way.

Ryan vs Amarillo Tascosa, Today

AB: My buddy Steve had to play the waiting game, and what seemed like a logical conclusion the whole time was finally reached officially on Saturday morning. Now, the Raiders finally get to hit the field in Amarillo on Monday afternoon against a 10-2 Amarillo Tascosa team with its throwback offense, similar to the one run by Amarillo against Guyer in 2013. Those old-school West Texas squads aren’t as athletic as Guyer or Ryan, so they try to play keep-away and keep their team in games, and that’s what Tascosa will do today. Ultimately, I think Ryan will be too much for Tascosa, they’ll improve to 13-0 on the season and have a battle of undefeated teams on Saturday against Allen. That’ll be fun.

SG: I’m here in Amarillo and in a few short hours I’ll be covering the third-round Class 6A Division I slugfest between Ryan and Tascosa. It’s hard to tell just how good Tascosa (10-2) really is. The Rebels run a triple option attack, which if you didn’t know, isn’t used often. That will be a challenge for the Raiders’ defense, plus the fact there are no common opponents to compare against. I have to believe Ryan is ready for this showdown, and for the first time in quite some time, I think many of my fellow experts agree. Offensively, Ryan has proved itself time and time again and picked up big wins over Plano East and South Grand Prairie to set up this showdown. Should Ryan win this game, too, it will set up a quick turnaround to face Allen on Saturday. It will be the toughest challenge the Raiders face, but first, you got to knock off Tascosa. Follow me for updates on Twitter (@NewspaperSteve) starting at 3 p.m.

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Weekend recap: Upset city

Denton Ryan quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) shows the ball under pressure in the fourth quarter during a high school football class 6A division I Region I area playoff round game between Denton Ryan and South Grand Prairie at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Friday November 20, 2015. Denton Ryan beat South Grand Prairie 43-35. (Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News)

Denton Ryan quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) shows the ball under pressure in the fourth quarter during a high school football class 6A division I Region I area playoff round game between Denton Ryan and South Grand Prairie at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Friday November 20, 2015. Denton Ryan beat South Grand Prairie 43-35. (Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News)

I tweeted something that I have to brag about a bit on Friday night, because I think it was a telling tweet. It went something like this: “Remember when Ryan wasn’t very good until they beat Guyer, but it didn’t matter because Guyer wasn’t very good?” Welp, here we are in the regional semifinal and both teams are still alive and coming off perhaps the two most impressive wins in the state over the weekend, particularly Guyer’s curb-stomping of Carroll. Both teams proved a lot in games that were seen as upsets, while Denton ran into the Aledo buzzsaw. Steve and I look back on a great weekend of area playoff games. Enjoy…

Ryan vs South Grand Prairie

AB: The Raiders just keep on winning, and just when I thought their run of success might be coming to an end (I was following along as best I could on the Dallas Morning News’ live stat website), they kicked it into another gear and shocked a South Grand Prairie team that was coming off a defeat of state powerhouse and previously unbeaten Euless Trinity. I picked Ryan to win this game, and I’ll do it again this week against Amarillo Tascosa, because I’ve finally come to the conclusion this is a really good football team. There are a couple of reasons for that — first off, the defense is as advertised, and despite giving up some points the last two weeks has come through when needed, and second, Spencer Sanders, y’all. The sophomore quarterback has been so impressive really since Ryan’s win over Guyer, when he was superb.

SG: Pack your bags for Amarillo, folks. Ryan beat South Grand Prairie last week by forcing four turnovers in a game that, prior to those momentum changers, looked like it could get away from the Raiders. But it didn’t, and that’s something Ryan has done time and time again. At 12-0, I believe Ryan will win over some “experts” who may have previously viewed them as an underdog going into this Saturday’s showdown against Tascosa. Then it’s a date with Allen or Arlington Martin. Let me give credit to linebacker Nick Watts. Not only did he have a fumble recovery in the third quarter against SGP and a clutch interception late in the fourth, but I hear he also forced two fumbles. Rodney Gladney’s 82-yard kickoff return before halftime kept Ryan in it, and Spencer Sanders was as cool as the other side of the pillow with his team needing to overcome a 5-point hole in the final 8:50 of the game.

Guyer vs Southlake Carroll

AB: If Guyer’s playoff win over Hebron last week was one of the most odd, weird games I’ve ever covered. Friday night’s win over the heavily favored Southlake Carroll Dragons was one of the most impressive ones. John Walsh told me before the game they were going to milk the clock and play ball-control offense with their three-headed rushing attack because it was their best chance of pulling off the upset, and I wasn’t sure what to think. Not that I didn’t believe him, but that’s not in Walsh’s quick-strike, score, score, score DNA. But the Wildcats did it to perfection, and it was thing a beauty. Big, big kudos to Shawn Robinson, who has taken some deserved criticism at times this year, but man, he’s hit his playoff switch really over the last four games — Keller Timber Creek, Ryan, Hebron and Carroll. I’ve said all along, Guyer is a dangerous team in the playoffs because IF they figure things out and get right, they can beat anyone, largely because of Robinson and their running game with Myron Mason and Noah Cain, who neared 200 rushing yards himself as a FRESHMAN in Class 6A football. Now, Guyer gets to play my hometown, boyhood team, San Angelo Central. That’s right, I grew up as a kid dreaming of being a Bobcat before moving to DFW in middle school. I don’t know a lot about Central now, other than they can score lots of points and their defense is better against the run than the pass, so Guyer might have to change up its strategy a bit this week and put more on Robinson’s arm. Don’t worry, though, the way he’s playing now, he’s plenty capable of that.

SG: Dragon slayers. I loved the headline from Adam’s game story except that they hadn’t “become” anything. Guyer has longstanding success against Carroll, and it wasn’t long ago that the Wildcats beat the Dragons twice in one season. Many “experts” picked against the Wildcats. I have to admit I figured it would be a tighter game than what happened, but Southlake has shown it is susceptible to giving up huge chunks of yards in the run game. Guyer took advantage to the tune of 544 rushing yards. That was the game plan going in, and they worked it to perfection. Shawn Robinson, Noah Cain and Myron Mason all rushed for at least 104 yards. Robinson tallied 263 yards on the ground on a night where he only needed to throw for 65 yards. Heck of a performance, and now it’s on to the third round – Guyer’s deepest run in the state’s largest classification since making it to the 2010 state final.

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What you need to know: Southlake Carroll

Guyer quarterback Shawn Robinson (3) dives into the end zone in Guyer's playoff game against Southlake Carroll. The junior-to-be earned a five-star rating from Scout on Monday.

Guyer quarterback Shawn Robinson (3) dives into the end zone in Guyer’s playoff game against Southlake Carroll. The junior-to-be earned a five-star rating from Scout on Monday.

After three quarters of the Wildcats’ playoff opener last week against Hebron, there had to have been a lot of folks who thought they were watching the end of the road for the 2015 season and watching Guyer lose in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in program history.

That didn’t happen. What did happen was an offensive surge unlike any I’ve seen a while, as Guyer reeled off more than 200 yards rushing and averaged 13.1 yards per carry from the time there was 1:40 left in the third quarter through the end of the game to score 28 unanswered points and beat Hebron.

Now, they’ll look to carry that momentum into the latest edition of what has become a pretty significant rivalry in recent years against the tradition-rich Southlake Carroll Dragons.

The Game: Southlake Carroll (9-2) vs. Guyer (8-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Allen’s Eagle Stadium

Series record: The all-time series is squared up at 2 wins apiece. Guyer won twice in 2010 — once at Dragon Stadium to snap a 40-something game home winning streak and then another in the regional final. Carroll came back to win in 2011 in a game that went to the final minutes, and jumped out to a big lead on Guyer in last year’s playoff win that the Wildcats were never able tor recover from.

What happened last week: Guyer overcame an awful start and a disjointed offense to get back to what they do best and win the game with a strong rushing attack. Carroll jumped out to a big lead on two-time defending state champ Cedar Hill before the Dragons were held scoreless in the second half only to hold on for a 37-33 win with a late safety.

What to expect: A heated battle between two proud programs who respect each other, but don’t particularly like each other. Guyer was considered the favorite a year ago, but a horrible start doomed the Wildcats. This year, the Wildcats are considerable underdogs and Carroll must avoid a hangover from a high-profile, nail-biter of a win over Cedar Hill. Shawn Robinson put up 505 total yards in last year’s game, but the Guyer defense allowed 58 points. Robinson will look to make amends for that game, and the Wildcats should be more crisp and efficient than they were last year with two turnovers and more than 100 yards in penalties. After going through a midseason funk, Robinson, and subsequently Guyer’s offense, have looked much stronger over the last three games. Guyer’s rushing attack is full-steam ahead right now, and the Wildcats will look to ride that to a win. If it gets into a shootout, that heavily favors the Dragons.

Final say: It’s a cop-out, I know, but I could really see this game playing out in two different ways, and which way proves to be true will determine the winner. If Guyer makes mistakes and allows the Carroll offense to stay on the field, it’s going to be a long day and a pretty significant Dragon win. If Guyer can play its game and assert the ground attack while playing mistake-free football, there could be an upset brewing. Just know this, Guyer doesn’t want this game to get out of the 30s, on either side, really.

Score prediction: Guyer 34, Southlake Carroll 33.

Weekend recap: Bi-district dandies

Guyer freshman running back Noah Cain (22) cruises into the end zone for a touchdown against Hebron, Friday, November 13, 2015, at Apogee Stadium in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer freshman running back Noah Cain (22) cruises into the end zone for a touchdown against Hebron, Friday, November 13, 2015, at Apogee Stadium in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

The Denton Record-Chronicle lost just one area team over the weekend, meaning we’re all still really busy, so thanks, schools. Keep reading as Steve Gamel and I take a look at the weekend’s action.

Hebron at Guyer

AB: I said before this game that if Guyer could get everything together on offense, they could beat anyone in the 6A Division II bracket. And I still believe that. They’re an incredibly inconsistent team offensively this year, and that was on full display on Friday. Guyer trailed 13-6 at half (even though it easily could’ve been 13-13 if not for a questionable out-of-bounds call on Shawn Robinson’s tremendous run) and trailed 26-13 with 1:40 left in the third quarter. Then, the Wildcats showed up and were that “good” version of themselves. That’s when Guyer began to impose its will on the ground and just ran wild on the Hawks behind Shawn Robinson’s 247 rushing yards and freshman, yes FRESHMAN, Noah Cain’s 177 yards. From that 1:40 mark on, Guyer rushed for 262 of their 532 rushing yards and averaged 13.1 yards per carry. It was almost comical how easy it was for them. Now, Guyer gets a rematch with Southlake Carroll, who ended the Wildcats’ year in the area round last year in a high-scoring affair plagued by Guyer mistakes. If the Wildcats have mistakes like that, or like they did Friday, this game won’t end well for Guyer. If the Wildcats play clean football, like I said, they can beat anyone in front of them because of their defense and their insane rushing attack.

SG: I love reading quotes from Guyer coach John Walsh, don’t you? I mean, this guy laughs in the face of the whole “coach-speak” philosophy and simply tells it like it is – win or lose. I respect that, especially when he went on record with my buddy Adam by saying, “…We collectively screwed it up.” Hebron is obviously a better team than what I saw when Ryan sliced and diced the Hawks in Week 2, but Guyer honestly should have done the same early on in Friday’s first-round playoff game. Walsh clearly agreed. Two takeaways and the Wildcats still trailed 13-6. But, like all championship-caliber teams do – Guyer has won two titles, remember? – the Wildcats didn’t fold. Shawn Robinson and freshman Noah Cain obliterated the Hawk defense with 247 and 177 rushing yards, respectively. Cain, in particular, has been absolutely insane this season and is practically a lock for our DRC all-area newcomer of the year.

Plano East at Ryan

AB: Just sitting here at the office talking to my co-worker Steve, and I told him about my revelation that came full circle over the weekend. As it turns out, Ryan is a really, really good football team. I had pretty much come to that conclusion after the Raiders beat Guyer to close the regular season, but I’m all-in now. They didn’t use their usual defensive dominance to beat Plano East in their bi-district playoff win. Instead, they used a high-flying offensive attack led once again by the great Spencer Sanders. All the stars showed up for the Raiders — Sanders, Gabriel Douglas, Rodney Gladney, and of course, Tyreke Davis, who had a pick-six. Anyway, you don’t go 11-0 without being good, regardless of a lack of competition throughout the season, and the Raiders are a darn good football team. Word of caution for Raiders fans, though: Don’t think you got a break by not having to face previously unbeaten Euless Trinity. SGP can play.

SG: I’ve been saying all year long that Ryan is a more complete team than it is being given credit for, even at 11-0. Not only have the Raiders remained unbeaten, but they’ve won those games in a variety of ways (offense, defense, special teams, low-scoring and high-scoring). On Friday, they went toe-to-toe with a pretty good offensive team in Plano East and flat-out outscored them while rolling up 514 total yards. This could have been a tighter game but Plano East was, in my opinion, too fancy for its own good going for 2-point conversion attempts early in the first half. They missed two in a row, then had an extra point kick blocked and turned the ball over twice. Meanwhile, Ryan didn’t commit a single turnover and at one point lead by 17 early in the second half. Not a bad start at all to the playoffs for Ryan. Next up is South Grand Prairie at AT&T Stadium.

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What you need to know: Hebron

Hebron quarterback Clayton Tune (12) throws the ball while being covered by Plano East defensive back Reuben Donald (8) in the first quarter during a high school football game between Plano East and Hebron at Hawk Stadium in Carrollton, Texas Thursday October 29, 2015. (Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News)

Hebron quarterback Clayton Tune (12) throws the ball while being covered by Plano East defensive back Reuben Donald (8) in the first quarter during a high school football game between Plano East and Hebron at Hawk Stadium in Carrollton, Texas Thursday October 29, 2015. (Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News)

The Wildcats are coming off a loss, but in the grand scheme of things, last week’s 31-28 loss meant nothing to Guyer outside of a blow to the Wildcats’ pride. John Walsh was pleased with his team’s week of preparation and their focus in the rivalry game, and now he seems confident they’re carrying that over to this week where a sub-.500 team awaits in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

The Game: Hebron (4-6) vs. Guyer (7-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m., at UNT’s Apogee Stadium

Series record: Guyer leads the all-time series 1-0, with that one win coming in a 2011 bi-district playoff game at AT&T Stadium. It went to double overtime and was the first of 13 career playoff wins for two-time state champion quarterback Jerrod Heard, who was a sophomore at the time.

What happened last week: Hebron needed a 10-point win over a McKinney Boyd that was also fighting for its playoff life to make the postseason, and the Hawks won by 14 points. It was impressive. Sophomore quarterback Clayton Tune threw for 232 yards and four touchdowns, including two to Isaiah Gary. Guyer had an epic clash between crosstown rivals with a district title on the line. After the Wildcats raced out to a 14-7 lead after three possessions, Ryan’s defense showed its mettle by holding Guyer scoreless over the second and third quarters before a late Guyer push fell just short.

What to expect: Since Shawn Robinson has returned from an illness that forced him to miss Guyer’s 12-10 win over Trophy Club Nelson, he’s been fantastic — both in a win over Keller Timber Creek and in last week’s loss to Ryan when accounted for four touchdowns and had an unbelievable highlight-reel touchdown run. Most importantly, he hasn’t turned the ball over in those two games after he threw three interceptions in Guyer’s shocking loss to Keller Central before he fell ill. Expect a fine-tuned Guyer offense that will be committed to re-establishing a dominant ground game that rushed for just 204 yards last week — 100 yards below its season average.

Final say: Hebron is hot, and you could make a pretty strong case that Guyer isn’t. But last week’s loss should do a lot to propel Guyer into playing some of their best football of the year in the postseason, like it always does. When Guyer is on, the Wildcats can beat anyone. And I think we see that version of Guyer on Friday night.

Score prediction: Guyer 38, Hebron 20.

Weekend recap: Rivalry week

Ryan wins the coin toss before kickoff against Guyer, Friday, November 6, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Ryan wins the coin toss before kickoff against Guyer, Friday, November 6, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

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.

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Ryan-Guyer will feature two special linebackers, and then some

Guyer's Michael Carrillo (6) tackles Southlake Carroll's Ryan Aqnew (7) Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Matt Garnett/Special Contributor

Guyer’s Michael Carrillo (6) tackles Southlake Carroll’s Ryan Aqnew (7) Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Matt Garnett/Special Contributor

Dharius Timmons might be the best middle linebacker Guyer has ever had, and Guyer’s coaches have said he’s almost surely the most intelligent one with the best football IQ and understanding of the position. Ryan linebacker Nick Watts drew all kinds of praise from Guyer head coach John Walsh this week.

But Friday’s matchup between Guyer and Ryan — the rubber match of the all-time series that sits at at 3-3 tie with no certainty of when the teams will ever meet again — will feature two extraordinary linebackers in Guyer senior Michael Carrillo and Ryan junior Tyreke Davis.

Both are versatile — Carrillo was a standout tailback in middle school and could be for Guyer if not for a stable of quality runners. He still returns punts for the Wildcats and has housed a couple of punt returns in his career as a three-year starter. But he excels on defense and is known as one of the area’s, if not the state’s, most fearsome hitters.

This season, Carrillo has been in on 69 tackles, including 17 behind the line of scrimmage in eight games. He’s broken up six passes with two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and a defensive touchdown.

“He’s a great player,” Ryan coach Dave Henigan said. “He means a lot to that defense, and I think it was very noticeable when he didn’t play that one game when he had his wisdom teeth out [in Guyer's stunning loss to Keller Central]. He’s unbelievably physical, and he’s around the ball a lot. He makes tackles, but they aren’t just tackles, he tackles violently. I really enjoy watching him play.”

Ryan junior linebacker Tyreke Davis (21) slams into Keller Central junior quarterback Reese Robertson (10), Friday, September 25, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Ryan junior linebacker Tyreke Davis (21) slams into Keller Central junior quarterback Reese Robertson (10), Friday, September 25, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

As for Davis, the mutual respect from the coaches carries over on the other side of the spectrum. Davis took the area by storm last year and was voted as our All-Area Newcomer of the Year after a standout sophomore year as a running back and linebacker.

This year, Davis has had his hands in on 85 tackles, including 15 behind the line of scrimmage, two sacks and an interception returned for a score. He’s rushed for 574 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games.

While Walsh said, obviously, he’s partial to Carrillo, Davis would be his next choice if he was putting together a defense.

“I think I have the best linebacker in the state of Texas, but if I was looking for another one, it’d be Tyreke,” Walsh said. “He’s fun to watch on film. To watch him run the ball and then go play defense at a high level is impressive. He doesn’t get blocked, he has great instincts and he does some punishing when he gets there. I have a lot of respect for him. When I turn on film for Ryan, I find myself not watching the scheme, I find myself watching No. 21.”

So if you want something to watch within the game on Friday night, keep an eye on those two because they’re both incredibly special players.

What you need to know: Keller Timber Creek

Guyer sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson (3) stiff arms Wichita Falls Rider senior defensive back Israel Esquibel (3), Friday, September 12, 2014, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson (3) stiff arms Wichita Falls Rider senior defensive back Israel Esquibel (3), Friday, September 12, 2014, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer’s last two games haven’t been satisfactory to head coach John Walsh, and I’m guessing his entire program echoes that thought. Two weeks ago, of course, the Wildcats dropped a stunner to end a 24-game district winning streak dating back to 2011, and then last week, they held on to beat Trophy Club Nelson 12-10, watching as the Bobcats blew some big chances while Guyer blew a couple of its own. This week, the Wildcats need to show more before heading into a key regular-season finale against Ryan.

The Game: Guyer (6-2, 4-1) at Keller Timber Creek (3-5, 2-3), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Series record: Guyer is 1-0 all-time against the Falcons, as the Wildcats beat them 58-21 when Shawn Robinson threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns while Guyer led 51-7 at halftime.

What happened last week: Guyer overcame injuries to three two key defensive starters prior to the game (defensive end Cameron Wax and outside linebacker Dante Ramacher) and two more during the game (defensive tackle Arian Bhat and cornerback J.T. Ashcraft), as well as an illness that forced blue-chip quarterback Shawn Robinson to miss the game. The result? A terribly ugly 12-10 win, but a win nonetheless. Guyer had two first-and-goal situations in the game and came away with zero points on those two possessions, but got great play from its defense and an early safety that ended up being the margin of victory. Timber Creek more than doubled up Justin Northwest, hanging 45 points on the Texans behind their bruising rushing attack and a pretty dang good defense.

What to expect: The Wildcats will have to wait another week to get guys like Wax and Ashcraft back, but they will get a big boost with the return of Robinson under center. Sophomore Luke Stillwell was more than admirable in his varsity debut, but Robinson is on another level. He hasn’t had quite the season everyone expected from him this year, but there is still time for him to rectify that.

Final say: The Wildcats are desperate for momentum at this point. This is a program that has prided itself on peaking at just the right time and playing its best football heading into the postseason, dating back to their breakthrough 2008 season. They got the playoff-clinching part out of the way last week, now they just need to start playing good football in all three phases. The coaching staff has been pushing for momentum and dominance pretty heavily this week, and I think the Falcons, as improved as they are, will be the victims of that.

Score prediction: Guyer 38, Keller Timber Creek 21

 

What you need to know: Keller Central

Ryan senior linebacker Nick Watts (11) wraps up Keller Central junior quarterback Reese Robertson (10), Friday, September 25, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Ryan senior linebacker Nick Watts (11) wraps up Keller Central junior quarterback Reese Robertson (10), Friday, September 25, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer will look to keep its growing offensive machine rolling against a high-risk, high-reward Chargers defense, all while looking to preserve the Wildcats’ unbeaten district mark and extend their district winning streak to 25 games.

The Game: Guyer (5-1, 3-0) at Keller Central (2-4, 0-3), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Series record: Guyer holds a 2-1 series edge over the Chargers, as Central shocked Guyer in 2011 with a sophomore Jerrod Heard under center as current Oklahoma defensive back Zack Sanchez scored multiple touchdowns on defense and special teams for the Chargers.

What happened last week: The only team statistically worse than Central on offense and defense in District 5-6A is Justin Northwest, and the Texans spanked the Chargers last week to the tune of 34-18. Meanwhile, Guyer’s offense was good — a bit sloppy, but good — and they also scored on defense and special teams, as the defense held a decent Fossil Ridge offense to two touchdowns.

What to expect: Guyer rolled up 551 yards of offense on the Central 3-3 Stack and won 56-27 last year despite a slow start that led to a first-quarter Central lead. This team seems to have more of an edge than last year’s and hasn’t let bad teams hang around, so I don’t expect to see that again. In fact, players told me this week that they know they let teams hang around last year when they shouldn’t have, and they are making a point not to do it again. I’d expect a really dominant effort, even if it’s Guyer’s rushing attack busting big runs on Central’s risky scheme. If the passing game is working, and it has been more and more the past couple of weeks, then you should really look out.

Final say: Central is statistically the second-worst team in the district — both on offense and defense. Guyer, on the other hand, has far and away the best offense in the district and that includes a few weeks early in year when the unit was struggling. Look for lots of points from Guyer as the Wildcats will move to 3-0 in Keller ISD Athletic Complex this season.

Score prediction: Guyer 66, Keller Central 17.