Associated Press state poll: Week 1

Denton senior wide receiver Chris Miller (14) stiff arms Lake Dallas senior line backer Jacob Schuster (35), Friday, August 26, 2016, in Corinth. Jeff Woo/DRC

Denton senior wide receiver Chris Miller (14) stiff arms Lake Dallas senior line backer Jacob Schuster (35), Friday, August 26, 2016, in Corinth. Jeff Woo/DRC

The newest edition of the Associated Press state poll is out after one week of games, and there was a little movement for the area teams in the poll after several big matchups and some upsets.

The biggest movement came from the Denton Broncos, who jumped from nowhere to be found in the Class 5A poll all the way up to the first team receiving votes (No. 11) after a sound beating of Lake Dallas, which opened the year at No. 14. Ryan remained at No. 3 in 5A while Cedar Park and Aledo traded places above the Raiders. Argyle stayed at No. 1 in Class 4A, and Guyer moved up one spot in the “ORV” to No. 13 and now have No. 3 DeSoto waiting for them this week.

Here is The Associated Press high school poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records, points based on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, and the team’s ranking in last week’s poll:

Class 6A
School Record Total Points Prv
1. Austin Westlake (7) (1-0) 215 5
2. Allen (14) (1-0) 212 4
3. DeSoto (1) (1-0) 161 6
4. Converse Judson (2) (1-0) 134 10
5. Katy (0-1) 132 1
6. Galena Park North Shore (1-0) 103 8
7. Cibolo Steele (1-0) 101 7
8. Lake Travis (0-1) 70 2
9. Cedar Hill (0-1) 69 3
10. Euless Trinity (1-0) 67 9

Others receiving votes: 11, Richmond George Ranch 26. 12, Arlington Martin 14. 13, Denton Guyer 6. 14, Lufkin 3. 15, The Woodlands 2. 16, Tyler 1. 16, Mansfield 1. 16, Pearland 1. 16, San Angelo Central 1. 16, Cedar Park Vista Ridge 1.

Class 5A
School Record Total Points Prv
1. Cedar Park (9) (1-0) 218 2
2. Aledo (10) (1-0) 215 1
3. Denton Ryan (5) (1-0) 195 3
4. Manvel (1-0) 151 4
5. Temple (1-0) 134 5
6. Frisco Lone Star (1-0) 120 6
7. Dallas Highland Park (1-0) 112 7
8. CC Calallen (1-0) 71 8
9. Richmond Foster (1-0) 50 9
10. Angleton (1-0) 11 NR

Others receiving votes: 11, Denton 8. 11, Lancaster 8. 13, Texarkana Texas 7. 14, College Station 6. 15, Ennis 5. 16, Crosby 4. 17, Mansfield Timberview 2. 18, Georgetown 1. 18, Canyon 1. 18, Abilene Cooper 1.

Class 4A
School Record Total Points Prv
1. Argyle (13) (1-0) 226 1
2. West Orange-Stark (10) (1-0) 221 2
3. Waco La Vega (1) (1-0) 187 3
4. Gilmer (1-0) 151 6
5. Carthage (0-0) 145 5
6. Abilene Wylie (1-0) 108 8
7. Kennedale (0-0) 70 10
8. Cuero (1-0) 42 NR
9. Navasota (0-1) 32 4
10. China Spring (1-0) 24 NR

Others receiving votes: 11, Texarkana Liberty-Eylau 21. 12, Liberty Hill 20. 12, Celina 20. 14, La Grange 18. 15, Henderson 12. 16, Princeton 9. 17, Terrell 5. 18, Sweetwater 4. 19, Van 2. 20, Sinton 1. 20, El Campo 1. 20, Center 1.

Class 3A
School Record Total Points Prv
1. Brock (19) (1-0) 231 1
2. Cameron Yoe (2) (1-0) 210 3
3. Newton (2) (1-0) 160 6
4. Franklin (1) (1-0) 154 8
5. Waskom (1-0) 152 5
6. Malakoff (1-0) 128 7
7. East Bernard (1-0) 72 10
8. Mineola (0-1) 56 2
9. Canadian (0-1) 32 4
10. Crockett (1-0) 27 NR

Others receiving votes: 11, Sunnyvale 26. 12, Cisco 16. 13, Teague 14. 13, La Marque 14. 15, White Oak 8. 16, Wall 6. 16, East Chambers 6. 18, Rockdale 3. 19, Grandview 2. 19, Pottsboro 2. 21, Mathis 1.

Class 2A
School Record Total Points Prv
1. Refugio (20) (1-0) 235 1
2. Bremond (4) (1-0) 207 2
3. Shiner (1-0) 192 3
4. Iraan (1-0) 160 4
5. Stratford (1-0) 124 5
6. Albany (1-0) 119 6
7. Mart (1-0) 83 9
8. Tenaha (1-0) 64 10
9. Muenster (1-0) 45 NR
10. Lovelady (0-0) 23 NR

Others receiving votes: 11, Alto 16. 12, Wellington 15. 13, Post 8. 14, Goldthwaite 7. 15, Stinnett West Texas 6. 16, Crawford 5. 16, Mason 5. 18, Seagraves 2. 18, Thorndale 2. 18, Weimar 2.

Weekend recap: Let’s get it on

Sean Steffen / Amarillo Globe-News Denton Ryan quarterback Spencer Sanders throws a pass 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 quarterback Spencer Sanders throws a pass against Tascosa Monday, November 30, 2015 during a Class 6A Regional game at Dick Bivins Stadium in Amarillo.

After all those lame practices and scrimmages, things got real on Friday (Thursday, actually) and we had our opening week of Texas high school football season. There were some upsets, some blowouts, some injuries, and more, and my esteemed colleague, Steve Gamel, and I take a look back in our weekend recap.

Ryan at Lancaster

AB: I figured Ryan would win this game, but I was interested to see how it’d play out knowing the athleticism Lancaster possesses as a big test for what is a loaded Ryan team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. True to form in games like that, Lancaster made it interesting for a while before Ryan eventually pulled away and proved to be the better team. The Raiders’ offense is going to be really tough to stop this year with Spencer Sanders and his stable of receivers, and everyone knows what that defense is capable of. For Ryan, it’s state title or bust, as far as I’m concerned. The Raiders are that good.

SG: Ryan did not look sharp early on against Lancaster, but let’s not forget this was a top 10 matchup between two of Class 5A’s elite teams. And it was a season opener, so crazy stuff is bound to happen. Ryan turned the ball over three times, but in the end proved it was the better team by forcing four turnovers and scoring 28-straight points to pull away. Couple of quick thoughts: That defense is amazing and the pressure they can inflict up front is unreal. Also, Gabriel Douglas (11 catches, 190 yards and two touchdowns) is an absolute monster at wide receiver.

Mansfield Lake Ridge at Guyer

AB: Yes, Lake Ridge lost 47 seniors from last year’s team that was a couple of key injuries away from being 16-0. Yes, the Eagles lost quarterback Jett Duffey and running back Duke Carter — more than 80 percent of their offense from a year ago. But they simply reloaded. There is some serious skill on that team out wide and in the secondary on defense. It was enough to lead Guyer, 15-3, midway through the second quarter before the Wildcats reeled off 21 unanswered points and never looked back in a 55-35 win. I said on many occasions Guyer might have the best 1-2 running back punch in Texas, and I’m standing by it after Week 1 as Myron Mason and Noah Cain rushed for nearly 400 yards combined. Guyer is going to be fine. Yes, even without Shawn Robinson. Speaking of… You know what’s next.

SG: This was a matchup against a really really really good Class 5A team that could be playing well past Thanksgiving. We all knew Guyer had a loaded running game, though, and that talk was backed up when the Wildcats – namely Myron Mason and Noah Cain – rolled up a staggering 494 rushing yards. That rushing attack was working so well that Guyer barely had to throw the ball. Luke Stillwell passed for 19 yards but added 92 rushing yards and a touchdown run of his own. Must be rough for opposing defenses when you know what a team is going to do, but still can’t stop them.

Denton at Lake Dallas

AB: I was shocked by this result. Sounds like the Broncos pretty much had their way with Lake Dallas. The Falcons lost a ton of really good players to graduation from last year’s state semifinalist squad, but they had enough back to where it seemed there wouldn’t be a huge drop-off. There’s still plenty of time to prove that theory after just one game, but Denton sure had its way with the Falcons and seemed to have found another stud running back in Caleb Osuofa. Big win for Kevin Atkinson & Co.

SG: I love when our Denton-area teams face off, though I was surprised by the outcome. That’s not a knock against Denton. I just felt like, despite the losses to graduation, the Falcons would turn in a better performance – though I’m sure they will rebound just fine from this. Denton’s ground game rolled up 303 rushing yards despite losing star back Xavier Scott to graduation. We see you, Caleb Osuofa. Lake Dallas turned the ball over four times – including three interceptions from a quarterback that managed to start five games last year and is no slouch.

Braswell at Haslet Eaton

AB: I didn’t see this game, and unfortunately for Braswell, it doesn’t sound like I missed much. But take it from someone who saw Guyer’s 1-9 season in Year 2 of its program and actually saw the Wildcats play a game in its opening year (0-10), a program’s first game, or even first year are hardly indicative of where said program is going. I’ve heard from some good football people that Cody Moore is without question a great football mind and coach, so I have no doubt they’ll get things squared away. Just don’t expect it real soon.

SG: This was one of three games I attended this weekend, and even with the lopsided loss, I do truly believe that Braswell will be just fine. People forget that Guyer and many other quality programs went through a similar shellacking early on before becoming some of the top programs in the area. The same will happen at Braswell. By the way, the Bengals have some quality athletes whose performances were clearly overshadowed by the 55-0 loss. Ki’Andre Jackson rushed for 70 yards and caught two passes for 11 yards in the losing effort.

Argyle at Lovejoy

AB: I was following along in passing on Saturday night and kept seeing a close game and thought, “Wow, that’s a pretty good result for Argyle to beat a solid 5A team.” Then, I heard later on in the night that Tulane pledged quarterback Dane Ledford didn’t play the entire second half after suffering a wrist injury, which is thought to be a sprain. I thought Dillon Carter was going to be the Eagles’ featured running back, but it seems like they found their guy in Don Williams, who had a whale of a game in helping to carry a Ledford-less offense while also displaying what we already knew about the Eagles — their offensive line is off-the-charts good.

SG: Everyone is going to be talking about quarterback Dane Ledford’s wrist injury after this one, and rightfully so. He’s extremely talented and, as of right now, is slated to have an MRI. That’s all we know about the Tulane commit, but we wish him well. As for the game, it shouldn’t be brushed under the rug that Argyle poured it on Lovejoy in the second half – without its quarterback. Don Williams is going to be a dynamic running back.

Pilot Point at Krum

AB: I knew coming into this year Krum had a chance to be a really good team. That will tend to happen in small-school 4A football when you have more than 30 seniors on your roster. It looks like that leadership is paying dividends for the Bobcats early on after their shutout whuppin’ of Pilot Point. Krum had a Cinderella run to the 4A Division II regional final last year, but I’m starting to think they’ll return this year and there will be no “Cinderella” about it.

SG: Another battle of Denton-area teams, and Krum dominated it, 29-0. I read that was the first shutout Pilot Point has suffered since 2011? That’s big, if true. Meanwhile, Krum forced three turnovers, rolled behind a steady run game, and proved it can be a major playoff power this season. Krum ran the ball 50 times compared to just 12 pass attempts. With that being said, quarterback Trent McMillin appears to be a solid addition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motivation Begins

Denton High School football players hit the field before sunrise on the first day of fall practice

As much as Monday represented the official start to a new season for the Denton Broncos, it was also head coach Kevin Atkinson’s first opportunity to motivate his entire team in a several months.

The night before the start of practice Atkinson can never sleep. Unable to go to bed until after midnight with a 3:30 a.m. wakeup time, he is like a kid on Christmas Eve, too excited for the day ahead.

Finally, his alarm rings and Atkinson gets in a 45-minute workout full of running and weight lifting before he has his breakfast protein shake and heads up to the Denton High School field house, where he plans for the morning ahead and writes a to-do list for after practice.

This habit of his has been entrenched in him for a long time – a routine similar to the foundation he and his coaches are trying to instill in their young team that it will need to have complete grasp of by the first game of the season.

Often times throughout practice, Atkinson takes time to huddle the team and spend a few minutes motivating them and Monday was no different.

“I just told them that we just have to keep getting better, pay attention and have a lot of effort,” Atkinson said. “Those types of things are kind of laid out in the offseason, but you have to always coach effort I think, especially this day and age. Some people say you shouldn’t have to coach effort. It’s hot and you have to get up here early, so you have to motivate them a little bit.”

Atkinson made it clear to his team that self-motivation never stops and stressed just how important the process is to the end goal.

He also told a small story as the group of intently-listening players leaned forward in excitement and encouragement.

“There’s an old Indian story about a little brave that comes up to his chief all concerned and he says, I have two dogs barking in my head. One is barking the right thing to do and one is barking the wrong thing to do. The chief said we all have two dogs barking in our heads. The brave said, which one wins and the chief said the one that you feed the most,” Atkinson said.

A lot of learning on the first day of practice is sink-or-swim to Atkinson. Some kids catch on faster than others, but it’s up to the coaches to gauge where each player is and modify their approach.

As much as the pain of last season’s playoff loss to Aledo still haunts them and as ready as they are to get pads on at the end of the week, it’s natural for some players to be chomping at the bit and impatient.

“It is frustrating,” senior linebacker Eric Borst said. “You’re antsy because we expect to go to the playoffs now after going the past two years but it’s good to learn the basics, especially for the people not practicing religiously, they kind of forget the basics and how to make a tackle so that when we get back to the playoffs those mistakes don’t come.”

“It’s definitely a race. When we’re going through this, all we want to do is put pads on and hit and do our thing.”

For senior offensive lineman Grant Polley, who recently committed to Colorado, fundamentals still are fun to him.

“The basic stuff is the best stuff.” Polley said. “That’s your foundation and that’s what you always rely on when you play. I’m glad they are switching it up some. We’re going to get a lot out of it and switch it up from the daily grind we’re used to.”

With padded practices beginning Friday and the Broncos’ first game against Lake Dallas on August 26th, there isn’t time to waste according to Atkinson.

“I talked to them today about how everybody that is taking the practice field this Monday or next Monday around the state has aspirations of a state championship in December,” Atkinson said. “We have to match our work ethic with our dreams, otherwise what are you doing. Are you just dreaming or you actually matching the work to reach those dreams?”

PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.

Lake Dallas’ Tompkins resigns, heading to Denton

 

Former Lake Dallas head coach John Tompkins hands the ball off to senior Parker Tuck (4) against Grapevine, Friday, June 3, 2016, at Horner Ballpark in Dallas. David Minton/Denton Record-Chronicle

Former Lake Dallas head coach John Tompkins hands the ball off to senior Parker Tuck (4) against Grapevine, Friday, June 3, 2016, at Horner Ballpark in Dallas. David Minton/Denton Record-Chronicle

One of the most successful coaches at Lake Dallas will not return for the 2016-2017 school year as head baseball coach John Tompkins turned in his resignation Tuesday.

Tompkins said he will accept a job to be the varsity assistant at Denton under Nick Buck.

“I think it’s just the best decision for me and my family at this time,” Tompkins said. “It was a tough decision, but it’s just what we felt like was best at this time.”

Tompkins, who was 185-116 in his nine seasons at the helm for the Falcons, is fresh off leading his team to the Class 5A Region I final before falling just shy of a state tournament appearance after being swept by District 6-5A foe and eventual state champion Grapevine.

Tompkins and Buck have a long history. The former Lake Dallas skipper coached Buck in the Texas Collegiate League with the now defunct Denton Outlaws. Tompkins said he will replace Donnie Watson, who recently took the head coaching job at Braswell, which is set to open in August.

The move was a welcomed surprise for Buck, who said he contacted his longtime friend to see if he knew anyone who would be interested in replacing Watson. The answer he got wasn’t exactly what he was expecting.

“He’s going to bring a ton,” Buck said of Tompkins. “John’s got the experience at the high school level and he’s done a great job at Lake Dallas. He’s done a great job developing players. He already has that experience on how to get every ounce of effort out of kids. I’m super excited to have him come on board and continue to develop the kids here at Denton High.”

The Falcons finished with a 26-12 record in 2016, which was the second-highest win total in Tompkins’ tenure — two shy of a 28-win season in 2011. In his nine seasons, Tompkins guided Lake Dallas to six playoff appearances and his teams racked up a 25-16 postseason record.

“It is a big blow. I hate to see him go,” said Lake Dallas athletic director Scott Head. “I understand why he’s going. He’s doing it for family reasons. He did a good job for us. Any time you lose a good coach like that it hurts, but you just have to reload.”

Head said the job opening has been posted and he will see what type of candidate pool he can get despite the resignation coming late. Teaching contracts for the upcoming school year will soon take effect.

“[Assistant athletic director and head football coach Michael] Young and I have been tossing stuff around. We’re going to throw it out there and see what we get,” Head said. “We posted it as soon as we got the resignation.

“He did a great job for us. We hate to see him go. I understand what’s going through his head though. It was a good year to leave on.”

Tompkins said the decision was a tough one considering the relationships he formed over the years, especially with his 13 departing seniors from the 2016 squad.

“We were able to make Lake Dallas a special place baseball-wise with the success we had,” Tompkins said.

Despite the tough decision, Tompkins said he’s ready for the next chapter and to work with an old pupil in Buck at an assistant level.

“I’m really excited to coach with Nick, because he’s a great baseball mind,” Tompkins said. “I think we’ll complement each other real well. I’m excited about working with him. I think we’ll balance each other out very well. I’m a little more intense and he’s a little more laid back. I think it’ll be a good combination.”

 ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.

 

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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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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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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Weekend recap: Domination station

Ryan head coach Dave Henigan on the sideline against Justin Northwest, Thursday, October 29, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Ryan head coach Dave Henigan on the sideline against Justin Northwest, Thursday, October 29, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

I’m getting a little overly clever with my headlines on these things, but if the DRC coverage area was a station, it’d apply well.

Several area teams scored blowout victories in a rain-soaked weekend that saw the majority of the games moved to Thursday, and my cohort Steve and I take a look back at what was a pretty impressive weekend of #txhsfb action in northern Denton County.

Justin Northwest at Ryan

AB: This game went about like I saw it going — an utter demolition of an inferior Northwest team by an unbeaten Ryan team. The fact that it was a 33-0 game at halftime without Ryan’s best player Tyreke Davis after an early ejection was a mild surprise, but just barely. Anyway, enough about this game, let’s move on to what’s important, and that’s this week’s clash with Guyer. We hear all the time that teams don’t look forward and only concentrate on the here and now, and the here and now is finally here. (By the way, I find it near impossible to believe that Ryan’s kids weren’t thinking about what was coming when they were running through Northwest like a hot knife through butter last week). With Ryan’s first-team unit in, the Raiders beat Northwest 40-0 to continue what’s been an amazing run from the Raiders’ defense. Now, they’ll try to keep it up against what appears to be a rejuvenated Guyer offense.

SG: This game was merely a weak appetizer for what everyone in Raider Country has been waiting for, a showdown against Guyer with the District 5-6A title on the line. Ryan has played lights out this year and is the only unbeaten team left in the district, but the only option Ryan has to come away with an outright district title is to beat the Wildcats. Have you bought your ticket yet? It’s gonna be a doozy! In the meantime, there was little doubt Ryan would take care of business against Northwest, which came in with just one win on the season. Ryan’s first teamers jumped out to a 40-0 lead, doing most of it without two-way star Tyreke Davis, who was ejected early in the first quarter. Ryan comes in having allowed 130 points against in nine games. That’s pure domination.

Guyer at Keller Timber Creek

AB: Guyer did exactly what it needed to do on Thursday night, and that was win a game in convincing fashion after a recent cold spell that included a 12-10 win and a shocking loss to a Keller Central team who will likely end the season with its only district win coming over Guyer. Things weren’t looking to rosy for the Wildcats, and then, with a flip of the proverbial switch they played what might have been their best overall game of the season and scored a big win when they needed a big win, not just a win. Shawn Robinson returned from illness and looked good throwing the ball. It wasn’t a perfect night, but compared to what we had been seeing, it was a big step in the right direction. While the offense was coming to life, the defense was doing what it’s done all season, which is dominate folks. This is a program that prides itself on peaking about this time in the season, and we had a lot of reasons to wonder if that was going to happen this year. We’ll know for sure on Friday against Ryan, but it appears the Wildcats are right on schedule.

SG: Shawn Robinson is back, and though I wasn’t there to see this game live, I heard from my buddy Adam that he was in true form while carving up the Timber Creek defense for 160 rushing yards and 184 yards through the air. Robinson scored two touchdowns. Guyer is clearly a better team offensively with Robinson in the game, and even though this hasn’t been his best season since transferring to Guyer, he is clearly a threat. Two games removed from losing their first district game in what seems like ages, the Wildcats are supremely focused on proving they are still the team to beat in this district. Adam texted me late Thursday to tell me he was amped for the upcoming Ryan-Guyer game, and I can’t disagree. Both teams deserve a ton of credit, and it’s exciting to see so much on the line.

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Weekend recap: Week of statements

Argyle senior wide receiver Drew Estrada (3) can't get to a pass after interference from Celina senior defensive back Travis Tolbert (20), Friday, September 11, 2015, at Bobcat Stadium in Celina, TX. David Minton/DRC

Argyle senior wide receiver Drew Estrada (3) can’t get to a pass after interference from Celina senior defensive back Travis Tolbert (20), Friday, September 11, 2015, at Bobcat Stadium in Celina, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer at Wichita Falls Rider

AB: Guyer’s passing game still doesn’t look the part when looking at the stats, but the eyeball test showed something different on Friday night. Shawn Robinson made some good throws that were either dropped or looked off because of bad, inexperienced route-running. Several times in that game, Guyer had three sophomores and one freshman wide receiver on the field, and it showed. At the same time, one of those sophomores, Colton Phillips, had a big night and caught Robinson’s first touchdown pass of the year on a bomb. The rushing attack finally showed up as advertised, and did it against a Rider defense that at least looked the part physically. The Wildcats’ defense forced a couple of big turnovers, including a key interception from one of the big boys in P.J. Broussard to set up an easy TD that turned a potential one-score game into a three-score game in a hurry. Now, it’s bye week time before the Wildcats begin District 5-6A in a game that could end up deciding the district title against unbeaten Keller.

SG: Guyer hasn’t completely broken out from under its offensive slump, but the Wildcats did more than enough to roll past former district rival Wichita Falls Rider. Of course, it wasn’t the same as last year’s 66-0 thumping the Wildcats gave Rider, but they scored 35 second-half points this time – and until the passing game sorts itself out, it’s nice to be able to rely on a running game that produced 444 yards.  Next up is an all-important bye week heading into District 5-6A. This year’s district slate has improved with Ryan’s revival and Keller off to a solid start. First up is Keller (3-0), so as nice as it was to have the run game clicking so well, the Wildcats must sort out their passing situation if they want to run this particular district table for a second-straight season.

Ryan at Wylie East

AB: Color me impressed. The Raiders have something cookin’ with three straight wins to start the season after a disappointing 5-5 campaign a year ago. On one hand, those three wins don’t mean a thing when it comes to November. On the other, they’ve been huge for the confidence of a Ryan team that appears to be rolling offensively while also having the defense that many of us have come to expect year in and year out from the Raiders. Spencer Sanders is showing why folks were so excited about him a year ago. As a freshman, he suffered some growing pains. As a sophomore, he looks like a star, and he seems to have the Raiders easily on track to return to the postseason after a one-year drought.

SG: There were so many question marks heading into Ryan’s bye week last year, but as I wrote in my game story the other night, the Raiders have written themselves a pretty intriguing first chapter for 2015 with just three games down. Three wins, all blowouts, and not a single offensive turnover. The defense is playing lights out, it’s hard to find much wrong with the play of sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders, and he’s got three studs in the passing game in senior Rodney Gladney and sophomores Gabriel Douglas and Tauskie Dove. Last week’s win over Wylie East was probably their best game overall, holding highly touted running back Eno Benjamin to 33 rushing yards while rolling up 294 passing yards in a 43-20 win. Time will tell how good these Raiders really are, but they appear to be a lock for a playoff spot heading into District 5-6A next week.

Denton at Carrollton Creekview

AB: As I said above in regards to Ryan, but in a completely different context: These first three games of the schedule don’t mean anything come playoff time. Make no mistakes, the Broncos plan on playing in the postseason, and they might have had a cold slap to the face to serve as a bit of a wake-up call on Thursday night when they lost to a Carrollton Creekview squad that had looked anything but impressive leading into the game. With that said, when teams hold Xavier Scott and the Broncos’ passing game to well under their season averages, it’s going to be a long day for a Broncos team that relies so heavily on both.

SG: A last-ditch field goal sailed wide and Denton was brought back down to earth on Thursday in a close loss to Carrollton Creekview. It’s just one loss, so let’s not panic. But the penalties last week need to be cleaned up. There were nine total for 56 yards, and according to our own Patrick Hayslip, eight of those were false starts.  The Broncos also had trouble establishing all-world running back Xavier Scott early – he was held to 44 yards going into the third quarter – and the passing game yielded 154 yards. Creekview didn’t appear to be too imposing, but the Mustangs did just enough to eke out the win, including a safety in the third quarter. By the looks of it, that one safety proved to be the difference in the game. Denton will try to regroup after this stunning loss, hopefully just in time for district play.

Argyle at Celina

AB: When you figure the prowess Celina has had on the state football landscape over the last two or three decades, you have to figure a team even as dominant as Argyle has been can’t dominate the series between the teams forever. And on Friday, Celina showed that to be true with what appeared to be a pretty thorough beating of an Argyle team ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 4A that had played in two straight state title games, winning one and losing another in double overtime. As far as current “power ranking” I’d put Argyle beyond Celina from a program standpoint, but for one night, the Bobcats proved they aren’t to be taken lightly.

SG: You know you must be doing something right when you elicit the response Celina had during and after its big win over Argyle. Argyle had Celina’s number in recent years, and the Bobcats hadn’t beaten the Eagles since 2008. The atmosphere was playoff-like in a battle of state-ranked teams. Unfortunately for Argyle, its offense started slow and the defense could not slow Celina running back Jarren Alexander. Alexander rushed for 222 yards and three touchdowns, and Celina looked mighty impressive. It was a tough loss, but one the Eagles will bounce back from. And for those remaining teams left on Celina’s schedule … look out!

Krum at Sanger

AB: Last year, Sanger rushed out to an undefeated start with the help of an all-state caliber running back. Then, he suffered a season-ending injury only to watch his teammates rally and go on to a playoff win. This year, the Indians are capable on offense, but don’t seem to have that go-to guy just yet. With that said, their defense appears to be every bit the dominant unit, and that showed with a great effort against a scrappy Krum team on Friday night.

SG: From what I heard from our reporter on the scene, Jimmy Isbell, this game was a bit chippy at times between two of our better area schools. Nonetheless, Sanger got another solid showing from its quarterback, CJ Jackson (114 passing, 63 rushing and 1 TD run) to preserve a 16-14 win that pushed the Indians to 3-0 and the Bobcats to 1-2. This is not the start we all envisioned from Krum, whose two losses came to Class 3A Pilot Point and now Sanger. The Indians are a solid bunch, and have retooled nicely after an injury-plagued 2014.

Weekend recap: A win is a win

Guyer senior linebacker Michael Carillo (6) loses his helmet after a tackle against Ennis, Friday, September 4, 2015, in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer senior linebacker Michael Carillo (6) loses his helmet after a tackle against Ennis, Friday, September 4, 2015, in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer rebounded with a win on Friday night after being whipped by the best team in the state, but it wasn’t a pretty win. The Guyer offense sputtered for the second straight game, mainly because of penalty issues (more than 100 yards) and a few protection problems. But a win is a win, and Guyer avoided an 0-2 start against a really good team and a defending state champion in Ennis.

Ennis at Guyer

AB: This was honestly one of the most ugly, frustrating games I’ve ever covered in my 10 years of doing this. It was sloppy, but the referees also got a little trigger-happy with their flags, which resulted in game that didn’t end until almost 11 p.m. despite being two running teams because of almost 30 penalties. Enough about me, though. The real star of this game was the Guyer defense, which backed up what Guyer coach John Walsh was saying about them after they allowed 48 points to Allen: They really are pretty dang good. They showed it against Ennis, holding the Lions scoreless for nearly three entire quarters behind yet another outstanding effort from the front seven and a much better outing from the secondary, including an interception from running back Christian Moore, who replaced Dio Williams at cornerback after an injury. Things will get much easier for the Wildcats this weekend against Wichita Falls Rider before a needed bye week and District 5-6A play starting.

SG: Told ya Guyer would rebound. The Wildcat offense apparently has a long way to go, still, but the defense deserves a ton – and practically all – the credit for knocking off Ennis on Friday. The Wildcats’ defense held Class 5A No. 2 Ennis off the scoreboard until the third quarter and only allowed 19 points against a usually-potent offense. It also helped when Ennis quarterback Tre Elliott made an inadvertent spike on fourth down in the closing seconds, but who cares? A win is a win is a win. The win helped the Wildcats avoid a 0-2 hole and gives them an added boost after falling to Allen in the opener. Clearly, though, the offense needs a boost after gaining just 250 total yards. Combined with the lack of offense against Allen, that is extremely un-Wildcat like. For now, just focus on the win.

Hebron at Ryan

AB: I went up to C.H. Collins on Thursday night to check out about a quarter of this game. Unfortunately, it was the third and a little bit of the fourth quarter, so I missed what seemed to be the most exciting moment with the Hail Mary, but I saw enough to come to the conclusion that Ryan is a pretty salty team. I saw Ken McLaurin throwing around Hebron folks like rag dolls and looking to be every bit the next great Ryan defensive lineman. The Raiders are most definitely playing with swagger right now after last year’s disappointing season and barring disaster they’ll end that streak of missing the playoffs at one year. I didn’t see a lot of Spencer Sanders, but by that point, the game was readily in hand. It sounds like the sophomore is moving right along and improved from the eight games of varsity experience he got last year as a freshman quarterback in 6A — a rarity, in itself.

SG: For those of you who missed this game, and didn’t read my game story, allow me to set the scene. With two seconds left in the first half Friday, Ryan’s coaching staff called a timeout to give its offense a chance to regroup. What happened next proved exactly how bad the Raiders want to win this year, when Spencer Sanders heaved a Hail Mary pass 48 yards to the back of the endzone. Gabriel Douglas came up with the catch and touchdown, and that one play spurred the Raiders to another lopsided win. Sure the offense has started slow in consecutive weeks, but they’ve responded each time. Combine that with a stout defense and opportunistic special teams play – Hebron had four turnovers – and Ryan is suddenly hard to beat. Tyreke Davis racked up 11 tackles and a sack and still had enough left in the tank to rush for two touchdowns. A great win, which now has Ryan at 2-0.

Granbury at Denton

AB: Once again, the Broncos worked an overmatched nondistrict opponent behind a huge offensive night from the bell cow of their team, running back Xavier Scott. The senior rushed for 275 yards and four touchdowns and looks to be every bit as dangerous as he was a year ago despite losing a few of his big friends up front. Denton has one more team to steamroll in nondistrict before things get real in District 5-5A play in what should be a pretty solid district against after Saginaw Boswell was left out of the playoffs despite a 7-3 record a year ago. Denton’s receivers look to be plenty talented this year, despite losing stud Key’andre Hearvey to graduation, and they’re giving new quarterback Colt Atkinson a vast arsenal of weaponry on Friday nights. As he gets more experience under his belt, that’s going to grow more dangerous by the week.

SG: We see you Denton. Denton has outscored its first two opponents 98-19. Let that sink in for a second. Now check this out: On Friday, the Broncos rolled up 442 yards of offense against Granbury thanks largely to the solid running of all-world back Xavier Scott. Scott rushed for 275 yards and four touchdowns … Granbury amassed 256 yards. So at this point, I’m convinced he’s not from this planet. Even against what I believe was an inferior Granbury team, you don’t do what Scott did without having a ton of talent. Scott has that, and then some. I am curious to see how Denton does as the season progresses, but if the first two games are any indication, it appears the Broncos haven’t lost any firepower from last season, and have the defense to flat-out shut opponents down.

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