What you need to know: Cedar Hill

Cedar Hill quarterback Avery Davis (12) is pictured in action during the DeSoto High School Eagles vs. the Cedar Hill High School Longhorns high school football game in Cedar Hill, Texas on Friday, September 23, 2016. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

Cedar Hill quarterback Avery Davis (12) is pictured in action during the DeSoto High School Eagles vs. the Cedar Hill High School Longhorns high school football game in Cedar Hill, Texas on Friday, September 23, 2016. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

This has been a game circled on the calendar since DeSoto knocked off Cedar Hill and pretty much ensured the Longhorns would end up in Guyer’s part of the Class 6A Division II bracket.

It’s two storied programs, two state-championship winning coaches and two very different programs that are awfully familiar with each other. The teams have met five times before, and all but one of them was a great game.

So, here we go on getting you covered on everything you need to know about Guyer’s area-round playoff game on Saturday.

The Game: Guyer (9-2) vs. Cedar Hill (9-2), Saturday, 2 p.m., Mansfield’s Newsom Stadium

Series Record: Cedar Hill leads the all-time series 4-1 with Guyer’s lone win coming in the teams’ only playoff meeting in the 2010 5A Division II area round.

What happened last week: Cedar Hill rolled over a pretty good Waco Midway squad, and the Longhorns did it in Midway’s home stadium. Avery Davis, the Longhorns’ Notre Dame-bound QB was nearly perfect, completing 17 of 18 pass attempts for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns.

Guyer used a well-rounded effort to dominate Trophy Club Nelson in a game that was turned on a 91-yard pick-six from Guyer cornerback Dio Williams. Guyer once again showed its improving passing game in the first half as Luke Stillwell threw for 99 first-half yards and hit a long touchdown over the top to Donovan Greenhoward.

What to expect: A clash of styles, plain and simple. Cedar Hill will want a track meet type game with its seven big-time college level players spread around the offensive lineup, highlighted by Davis and Oklahoma commit wide receiver Charleston Rambo. Guyer will look to slow the pace and rely on its dominant ground game and suffocating defense. It’s going to be a great matchup and I’m guessing it’s going to be a pretty high-scoring affair.

Final say: This is truly going to be a great chess match between two of the best coaches in the state with two vastly different, equally successful programs. Cedar Hill hasn’t seen many good rushing attacks this year, and it’ll be interesting to see if Guyer, even without second-leading rusher Myron Mason, can exploit that with one of the best rushing attacks in the state. Look for a new wrinkle to be thrown in with an emphasis on the quarterback-read game, something Luke Stillwell hasn’t done a lot of this year especially since injuring his shoulder in Guyer’s Week 7 loss to Allen. He’s 100 percent now, and I think the reins will be taken off Stillwell to complement sophomore Noah Cain in the running game. I think that’s enough to help Guyer pick up its second all-time playoff win over Cedar Hill.

Prediction: Guyer 45, Cedar Hill 42

Joey McGuire dishes on Guyer-Cedar Hill

Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire and safety Kolbi McGary (31) celebrate after stopping South Oak Cliff in the first half of their high school football game in Cedar Hill. Mike Stone/Special Contributor

Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire and safety Kolbi McGary (31) celebrate after stopping South Oak Cliff in the first half of their high school football game in Cedar Hill. Mike Stone/Special Contributor

When it comes to Texas high school football coaches, there aren’t many higher on my personal list of favorites than Cedar Hill head honcho Joey McGuire.

McGuire has a few state championship rings in his jewelry box at home and is clearly one of the most knowledgeable, respected coaches in the state. This week, he gets to face his ol’ buddy John Walsh, who is also right up on that personal list of mine.

McGuire talked about Guyer and the programs’ history together which is comprised of four regular-season meetings from 2010-2013 and a postseason matchup in 2010, which is the only game of the series Guyer won.

Without further delay, here’s my conversation with McGuire. Drumroll, please…

On thought that Cedar Hill is hitting its stride now after some “struggles” in the regular season:

“We played a really tough schedule early in the year. Our first five games were brutal against very physical football teams. We grew as a team and we’ve been healthy and gotten better. But we’re playing a really, really tough football team on Saturday. I think it’s one of the best matchups in the state for a football fan.”

On Guyer’s physical brand of football:

“I think they do a phenomenal job in the offseason. Whenever you think of Denton Guyer, you think of a very physical, strong football team that is well-coached. They hang their hat on that. It gives them a chance every single year to be really good. When you look at it this year, we really better go in trying to slow down the run game. They do a great job of formationing you and getting numbers to run the ball. You better line up and have a simple game plan and play really fast.”

On how Guyer is a tough matchup and how its physicality can neutralize Cedar Hill’s speed:

“They’re a really tough matchup for a couple of reasons. One, they’re gonna be really physical and sound in what they do. Them being able to run the ball, they can grind stuff out. When you look at that DeSoto game [a 51-17 loss for Guyer in Week 2] it’s a little deceptive when they had some bad snaps in the punt game and that’s 16 points real quick. It was early in the year. If you’re playing now, I think Guyer is a lot like us. I think they’re playing their best football right now. That’s always scary.”

On how Luke Stillwell compares to former Guyer star quarterbacks J.W. Walsh and Jerrod Heard (McGuire faced Walsh twice and went 1-1 and went 3-0 against Heard): 

“I think he does a great job. He does a really good job in all their play-action stuff as far as making those linebackers come up. He does a great job in the QB-read game. He looks like he’s faster on film than what you might think. With so many people keying on their running backs, he does a great job taking some pressure of those guys with the QB-read game.”

On Cedar Hill QB Avery Davis, a Notre Dame commit, playing perhaps his best game of the year in the Longhorns’ first-round rout of Waco Midway, in which he went 17 for 18 with 4 TD passes:

“He feels really good right now. He’s really efficient with the football right now. He’s very accurate. He could’ve been 18 for 18 if not for a little drop. He’s doing a good job of taking care of the football.”

On Guyer’s defense, specifically its standout secondary led by safeties Bryce Jackson (Northwestern) and Thabo Mwaniki (Oklahoma State):

“They tackle extremely well. That’s one thing when you watch them on film, the first thing you see is they tackle really well as a unit. They limit yards after catch and contact. You have to do a good job taking care of the football. They do a good job up front. Their two defensive tackles are eally tough to move and No. 17 [defensive end Jalen Sutton] is really long and can give some tackles a whole lot of trouble.”

What does Cedar Hill have to do to win this game?:

“We have to make sure we’re taking care of the ball on offense. Whoever wins the turnover battle in this game wil probably win it. We have to do a good job of slowing them. I don’t think anyone stops a team like Guyer — as far as running — but we have to slow it down. We have to also take a couple of shots in the vertical pasing game and hit a few of those to put some stress on the defense.”

Weekend recap: Playoffs??!?!

Guyer senior defensive back Thabo Mwaniki (1) stops a pass thrown to Byron Nelson senior wide receiver Tyler Milliken (11) at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, Friday, November 11, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Guyer senior defensive back Thabo Mwaniki (1) stops a pass thrown to Byron Nelson senior wide receiver Tyler Milliken (11) at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, Friday, November 11, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Seriously, if you’re already singing Christmas songs and decorating Christmas trees, get off my lawn. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet! #TeamTurkeyDay.

Now, as I step off my soap box, let’s talk about the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the Texas high school football playoffs, guys, and it got started on Thursday night with a nice slate of area games and continued on Friday and Saturday. The area is down to five teams — Guyer, Ryan, Argyle, Krum and Aubrey — which is the same amount of teams we had make it to the REGIONAL FINAL last year.

Just goes to show, every year is different. So, without further delay, come with Steve Gamel and I as we take you down a path of opening-weekend recollection. It’s recap time, y’all.

Guyer vs Trophy Club Nelson

AB: Yeah, Trophy Club Nelson was red-hot and dangerous, as proven by wins over Euless Trinity and Flower Mound Marcus, but truthfully, this game was the appetizer for what remains — an insanely tough road to hoe in the most difficult region in the most difficult bracket in the state: Class 6A Division II Region I. Next up for Guyer is Cedar Hill, then likely Mansfield, then likely DeSoto. You get the idea. All Guyer can ask for is to be peaking at the right time, and judging by Friday’s performance, the Wildcats are. Luke Stillwell looked very good throwing the ball until he didn’t really need to anymore in the second half, Noah Cain was dominant and that defense that has been so good this year was once again suffocating and won the game early in the second half with a 91-yard pick-six by Dio Williams that completely changed the game.

SG: I expected a Guyer win, but I honestly expected a little more from Trophy Club Nelson. Not only have the Bobcats been on a roll this season, but if you remember last year’s district “monsoon bowl” between Guyer and Nelson where the game was played in heavy rain conditions, the Wildcats got all they could handle before winning with a late field goal. Guyer never gave Nelson a chance to get rolling, and that’s the mark of a good playoff team. Speaking of good playoff teams, Guyer faces Cedar Hill next. Having already lost to Allen and DeSoto, Guyer would love to knock off a perennial playoff power.

Ryan vs Fort Worth Brewer

AB: This wasn’t the conventional win for Ryan, but sometimes you’re going to have games like that. I even saw some action on Twitter talking about how Brewer had “let its chance slip away.” Not real sure about all that, but the Raiders capitalized on some key mistakes and made the Bears pay in a first-round rout. It was exactly what we expected, and while Round 2 theoretically should provide a much stiffer challenge with one-loss Richland, I’m not so sure. Richland should have had a relatively easy time with an injury-ravaged Fort Worth South Hills team and instead needed a big comeback to narrowly edge them. I’ll be tagging along with Steve to see Ryan-Richland, and I’m looking forward to seeing a full game from Ryan. I’m just not convinced I will. Call me when we get to the state semifinal…

SG: Ryan’s race for a state title began with a lopsided win over Fort Worth Brewer. It was expected, but what stood out to me the most were the different ways the Raiders put the game on ice. They scored 20 of their 26 first-half points off two Brewer turnovers and a blocked punt. There was also a blocked field goal, which extended Ryan’s streak of holding opponents scoreless in the first half to seven games. Then the offense exploded for three scores to open the third quarter. These are the sort of big-game plays Ryan will need to keep making as they move deeper into the postseason. Especially since Brewer – which won four games all year – is officially the last “weak” team on the playoff docket. Ryan plays Richland Friday at Northwest ISD Stadium.

Denton vs Justin Northwest

AB: Saw this score early in the evening on Friday and was frankly in shock. The Broncos were putting it on fellow one-loss team Justin Northwest, and it looked like it was gonna be a blowout. Then, disaster struck for Denton. As I’m sure coach Kevin Atkinson and his team knew, when you’re up almost 20 points on a 9-1 team, you have to put it away, and the Broncos couldn’t do it. Instead, Northwest’s explosive offense finally found its way in the second half and took its first lead of the night with just seconds remaining in a crushing loss for what is becoming a perennial playoff program from Fulton Street.

SG: It’s a shame that Denton lost this game after jumping out to such a great start. But Northwest is one of the better teams in the area, too, and that clearly showed as they used a strong second-half surge to steal a 31-29 win to knock the Broncos from the playoffs. Denton put together a solid season, with its only other loss coming at the hands of Ryan, but they clearly didn’t have all the necessary pieces to make a long run in the playoffs. Head coach Kevin Atkinson is getting there, though. After being a doormat for several years, Denton is a consistent playoff contender now.

Argyle vs Snyder

AB: This game was deceptively “close” for a while, but then Argyle showed its mettle and why its looking to play in its fourth straight state championship game and fifth in six years come December. Fortunately for Argyle, the travel hasn’t been quite as bad as we thought it might’ve been when the playoffs began and it should continue to get a bit closer to home with each passing week. The Eagles can expect a stiffer test from Lubbock Estacado than they got from Snyder, but it should ultimately be another cakewalk to set up an epic third-round game with Abilene Wylie, likely at Tarleton State.

SG: If Argyle is going to make the deep playoff run we all expect it to make, it will have to do a lot of travelling. The Eagles just finished a nearly two hour drive to Graham to be a one-win Snyder team and is now gearing up for a similar trip to Burkburnett to face Lubbock Estacado. After that is a possible date with longtime rival Abilene Wylie. Last year, this matchup was played in Waco. The good news is that Argyle has had to travel before, and it doesn’t seem like these boys are fazed by it much.

Krum vs Waxahachie Life

AB: I had the pleasure of covering this game, and minus the fact there were no rosters and a mouse was running around the press box, it was fantastic. Krum is very good, and the Bobcats have the perfect recipe in place to make a deep playoff run once again. They run the ball very well behind QB Brandon Reeves and running back Haeden Knight, who I liken to a Nick Ralston-type back. And they also play stellar defense led by a standout linebacking corps. Last year, Krum “shocked” Sweetwater, and while pundits might pick Sweetwater again, I don’t think this year will be a shock at all. Krum is looking at a regional final showdown with Monahans, which would be lit.

SG: This is a team we are expecting big things from this postseason and, unlike last year, there should be nothing shocking about it. Krum surprised many football experts with its run to the region final last year, but anything less than that this year could be deemed a disappointment. Krum is loaded with a talented senior class and it showed with an easy win over Waxahachie Life this past week. Up next is Sweetwater, a team Krum dismantled last year, too. Will the rematch yield similar results? I think so.

Aubrey vs Canton

AB: The Chaps have had some issues with the feared injury bug this year, but they’ve bounced back and keep on keeping on. That continued on Friday night. We’ve grown accustomed to the two-headed rushing monster of Gatlin Grisso and Pablo Vera, who missed part of the year with an injury, but the Chaps added in a third name on Friday as Sheldon Wingert eclipsed 100 yards on the ground to give Aubrey three 100-yard rushers. That, coupled with a standout defense, is going to mean sleepless nights and headaches for upcoming opponents. Next up, Jasper.

SG: The Aubrey train keeps on rolling. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Aubrey is easily one of the better feel-good football stories from the Denton area as it went from barely being able to win a single game to competing at a high level in the postseason starting last year. This year’s run already includes a big win over Canton, and up next is a strong Jasper team. Aubrey will have to travel to Tyler in order to play this game, but at the rate the Chaps are going, I’m sure they’d travel anywhere so long as they have a chance to keep playing.

 

What you need to know: Trophy Club Nelson

Byron Nelson Bobcats Tyler Milliken (11) carries the ball with a stiff-arm out during a varsity football game between Hurst L.D. Bell High School and Trophy Club Byron Nelson High School at Northwest ISD Stadium on Nov. 3, 2016 in Justin, Texas. (Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News)

Byron Nelson Bobcats Tyler Milliken (11) carries the ball with a stiff-arm out during a varsity football game between Hurst L.D. Bell High School and Trophy Club Byron Nelson High School at Northwest ISD Stadium on Nov. 3, 2016 in Justin, Texas. (Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News)

The postseason is here, and it’s officially the most wonderful time of the Texas high school football season. Guyer enters on a three-game win streak and is riding high on the heels of its defense, which has been a lockdown unit this year with the exception of blowout losses to arguably the two best teams in Texas — Allen and DeSoto.

And everyone knows what Guyer’s offense is capable of, even without the services of senior running back and second-leading rusher Myron Mason, who suffered one of the most freak injuries imaginable last week while running through the cheerleaders’ pregame sign. Now, let’s get to the game…

The Game: Guyer (8-2) vs. Trophy Club Nelson (4-6), Friday, 7:30 p.m., at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex

Series Record: Guyer leads the all-time series 4-0 with the four matchups coming in the last four seasons as former district foes.

What happened last week: Nelson beat Hurst L.D. Bell soundly to lock up its postseason berth after starting the year 0-5. Guyer beat Plano West 30-10 behind another dominant defensive effort.

What to expect: Points. Nelson is riding high with confidence, having won four of its last five games after starting the year 0-5. And the Bobcats are doing it with a dangerous spread attack led by two stud receivers in Tyler Milliken and Isaac Groves. Guyer’s defense has been tremendous this year, and will likely do its job again, but Nelson will get its points. Guyer, of course, will score behind its top-notch rushing attack and a quarterback in Luke Stillwell who is throwing the ball better than he has all year.

Final say: Nelson’s defense is an opportunistic, aggressive one, but that brand of defense can also get your burned, and Guyer will stick with what it does without trying to get cute or outsmart the Bobcats en route to a fairly decisive win.

Score prediction: Guyer 38, Trophy Club Nelson 21

What you need to know: Plano West

Plano West Wolves Cilton Manning (1) carries the ball down field during the high school football game between Plano West High School and Allen High School at Eagle Stadium on Sept. 30, 2016 in Allen, Texas. Allen Eagles win 61-19. (Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News)

Plano West Wolves Cilton Manning (1) carries the ball down field during the high school football game between Plano West High School and Allen High School at Eagle Stadium on Sept. 30, 2016 in Allen, Texas. Allen Eagles win 61-19. (Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News)

Do we have to play this game?

That’s probably what a lot of Guyer fans and possibly even players and coaches are saying secretly. It’s completely meaningless, and if it wasn’t for the fact it’s senior night I’d say it could be a tough one to get up for. But it’s the final step before the postseason begins.

The Game: Plano West (1-8, 1-5) vs. Guyer (7-2, 5-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., C.H. Collins Athletic Complex

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

What happened last week: Plano West continued its disappointing season with a deflating loss to another team with nothing to play for, and crosstown foe, Plano. The Wolves managed just six points in the loss and gave up a ton on the ground to a pretty good Plano rushing attack.

Guyer took some time to get into an offensive rhythm with just four possessions in the first half and led just 14-0 at half. Then the Wildcats’ defense made a big play as Guyer ran away in the second half en route to a shutout victory against McKinney Boyd.

What to expect: Hard to say. One thing we can say comfortably is a Guyer win, but what we’ll see from Guyer is a bit up in the air. However, knowing John Walsh and his staff and how they like to be primed at this point in the season and also score a lot of points, I could see this one getting pretty ugly with Luke Stillwell back at quarterback full-time after playing sporadically last week and looking pretty good throwing the ball around. We know Guyer will run effectively on West, but it seems pretty likely the Wildcats will throw it all over the place too.

Final say: This is a mismatch, plain and simple. Guyer’s defense is riding high with confidence and its offense is looking to hit another gear heading into he postseason. It’s a bad recipe for West, and this game should be over sometime early in the third quarter.

Score prediction: Guyer 49, Plano West 7

What you need to know: McKinney Boyd

McKinney Boyd running back Kaeden Markham (1) makes his way through the Mesquite Horn defensive line during the fourth quarter of their game on Thursday, August 25, 2016 at Mesquite Memorial Stadium in Mesquite, Texas.  (Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News)

McKinney Boyd running back Kaeden Markham (1) makes his way through the Mesquite Horn defensive line during the fourth quarter of their game on Thursday, August 25, 2016 at Mesquite Memorial Stadium in Mesquite, Texas.
(Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News)

Guyer is coming off a 12-point win over a playoff team in Wylie last week, but you wouldn’t have known it from the players’ and coaches’ reaction after the game. Head coach John Walsh wasn’t pleased with his team’s play, and the Wildcats have heard plenty about it since. But Walsh expects a much sharper effort from his team on Friday against a team just playing out the season in one-win McKinney Boyd.

The Game: Guyer (6-2, 4-1) vs. McKinney Boyd (1-7, 1-4), Friday, 7:30 p.m., at McKinney’s Ron Poe Stadium

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

What happened last week: Guyer got a good night from Mwaniki and another solid defensive performance, but the Wildcats’ vaunted two-headed running back monster of Myron Mason and Noah Cain struggled by their lofty standards and expectations. The result? Guyer failed to hit 300 rushing yards, which is an incredible rarity. Mwaniki led Guyer with 121 yards on the ground, and the Guyer defense held an explosive Wylie offense to a field goal in the first half before a couple of big draw plays caught Guyer off guard in the second half and allowed Wylie to make a game of it.

Boyd was tied with Plano at halftime before allowing 21 unanswered points in the second half to close out the game and a 35-14 Plano victory. Plano rushed for 319 yards, which doesn’t bode well for Boyd’s youthful defense. The Broncos completed just two passes (both screen passes) on the night, a massive departure from their early-season balanced attack, while running back Kaeden Markham rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns.

What to expect: Expect a couple of things, but most notably that Guyer will be better offensively than it was against Wylie. First off, Guyer has had a good week of practice following what Walsh called the worst offensive game Guyer has played all year. Second, Boyd has allowed 57.5 points per game if you throw out its 17-6 win over Plano West. Points will be there for Guyer to take, and with Thabo Mwaniki under center for a second straight week, the offense should operate more efficiently.

Final say: Boyd began the season as a competitive team, losing close ones to two good teams in Mesquite Horn and Coppell before something happened — I’m not sure what — and just took the fire out of the Broncos. After throwing the ball around for several weeks, the last few games have seen the Broncos do nothing but turn and hand the ball off, and they simply aren’t built to be that type of team despite having a stud offensive lineman and a good running back. Guyer shouldn’t have much trouble with this one as the Wildcats continue to mend some injuries and get back to full strength for next week’s regular-season finale.

Score prediction: Guyer 56, McKinney Boyd 13

Weekend recap: Winners all around

Guyer senior defensive end Jalen Sutton (17) sacks Wylie senior quarterback Emilio Ames (15) after he fumbles the ball at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, Friday, October 21, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Guyer senior defensive end Jalen Sutton (17) sacks Wylie senior quarterback Emilio Ames (15) after he fumbles the ball at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, Friday, October 21, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

The area was full of winners on Friday night, and even the teams that lost (Sanger and Braswell) had some positives to look at in their own regard.

My loyal sidekick Steve Gamel and I take a look back at the weekend that was in area high school football…

Wylie at Guyer

AB: The Wildcats played flawlessly on defense for a half before a pretty potent offense got to them. Take out the passing game like Guyer did (limiting Emilio Ames’ near 250 yards per game passing to well under 200), and you’re gonna get hit in the run game from time to time. That’s what Wylie did with a couple of well-timed draws to its shifty change-of-pace back, and they worked. Guyer’s offense did enough with Thabo Mwaniki getting the nod at quarterback, and he played well as he led the team in rushing and didn’t make any mistakes. Penalties were an issue again, and that’s something Guyer is simply going to have to clean up in these next two weeks before the money games start.

SG: My buddy Adam Boedeker will tell you this game was not as close as the score indicates, and maybe that’s true. I wasn’t there, after all. But I’m still surprised by the score. Wylie was able to hold Guyer to under 300 rushing yards, which for the Wildcats, is somewhat of an off night. Wylie was also able to pile up nearly 200 yards on the ground against what I believe is an incredibly salty defense. Regardless, it’s another win for Guyer and it comes off the heels of a rough loss to Allen. So kudos to Guyer for getting back in the win column, which is where I think they’ll stay heading into the playoffs.

Ryan at Wichita Falls

AB: It’s to the point now where I’m not really sure what to say about Ryan anymore other than the Raiders dominated another inferior opponent. It’s out of Ryan’s control, once you hit district play, you play who’s on your schedule. But this can’t be helping Ryan, who had one of the best nondistrict schedules in the state and went through it unscathed. But, Ryan opened 5-5A play with Denton, which is clearly the second-best team in the district but is clearly a large step down from Ryan. Since then, it’s been a lot of gross mismatches. That’s going to continue, even into the playoffs as not all 5A playoff teams are legitimate like the 6A run Ryan made last year. The Raiders will get tested, but it’s going to be interesting to see how they respond when that finally happens again.

SG: Man, it sure has been a long time since Ryan was last tested by an opponent, and that happens to coincide with the start of District 5-5A play. With the exception of Denton, which is a good team that the Raiders still were able to beat convincingly in the district opener, the rest of the slate has been incredibly subpar. That includes Wichita Falls, which turned the ball over four times Friday and had zero answers for anything Ryan did. Ryan should finish the regular season unbeaten, and most people still don’t see them getting tested until the third round of the playoffs. That’s a long time between quality opponents, but when you’re as good as Ryan is, everyone tends to look subpar.

Wichita Falls Rider at Denton

AB: Denton put it on Rider, and that’s impressive. Is Rider the dominant force it once was? Not even close, but the Raiders are still a proud program who can beat anyone on any day, and the Broncos ended any doubt pretty quickly. Colt Atkinson had a big night throwing the ball and saw to it that the game was in his team’s favor basically as soon as Denton tied it up at 7-7 in the first quarter. Atkinson used his athletes outside in throwing for better than 350 yards, as Colorado pledge Chris Miller racked up 133 yards on six grabs, including a long 62-yarder for a touchdown. Denton is poised for another nice playoff run, but would eventually run into Ryan.

SG: I actually anticipated this game being a little too close for comfort, so kudos to Denton for putting the kibosh on any sort of wild upset by Rider. Enough about the game, though. Let me say this about Colt Atkinson. In my mind, he doesn’t get a ton of credit for what he’s been able to do at quarterback for this program over the last few years. Being a young guy when he took the reins, he’s seen one graduation after another at wide receiver and running back. But he’s come back and put up solid numbers. The Denton area has great QBs this year in guys like Spencer Sanders at Ryan, Dane Ledford in Argyle and even Brandon Reeves in Krum. Hopefully everyone has Atkinson in that discussion, too.

Braswell at Denison

AB: For a different reason than Ryan, it’s getting hard to write about Braswell each week. The Bengals struggling horribly in not only their first varsity season, but also the first year in the school’s history — a huge disadvantage that many schools don’t face when they open. But, Braswell had some bright spots in its latest setback to a good Denison squad. Granted, the Jackets aren’t known for their defense, but Braswell did have a season-high point total (20) and their the Bengals’ offense is getting more productive with each passing week. We knew it’d be a process, and the process appears to be working for Cody Moore & Co.

SG: Ok, so I’m fixing to talk about another Braswell loss, but let’s be real for a second. Braswell was able to put up 279 total yards and the most points it has scored in any single game this season against a Denison team that is supposed to be the third-best team in District 5-5A. Yes, the result was still a loss – a blowout loss at that. But could Braswell actually getting better? I think so. It’s tough to tell at 0-8, but the stats don’t lie, folks. If the Bengals can show that type of production over their final two games, it will be something to build on – regardless if they don’t win the game.

Sanger at Argyle

AB: Argyle isn’t supposed to be tested in district play, especially not at home. Even though Sanger is a good program, the Indians haven’t had much luck with their arch-nemesis Argyle in recent years. But on Friday, Sanger almost did it and should have gained a lot of confidence from playing down to the wire with a deeper more battle-tested Argyle team at its place where the Eagles are basically unbeatable. Argyle is still the cream of the 4A Division I Region I crop, but Sanger might be looking toward a rematch down the road.

SG: This game was off-the-chain exciting, and it made me wish I could have been in two places at the same time. Sanger hasn’t had much luck against the Eagles in recent years, but this was a true battle between the top two teams in this district and it took a solid defensive performance and a rally by the offense for state-ranked Argyle to pull out the win. It was a tough loss for Sanger, but one the Indians can learn from as they ready for the playoffs. As for Argyle, this is the type of win they can use to light an extra fire as they push for another state title game berth.

Krum at Graham

AB: Graham is down this year, but the Steers are still a proud program and played host to Krum on Friday in a game that literally went down to the bitter end. The Bobcats pulled it out behind, you guessed it, their strong running game and opportune passing game. Their defense has been strong all year and while it struggled at times on Friday night it came up when needed the most and laid the hammer down on Graham at the 1-yard line. Thrilling way to win a game, and Krum marches on.

SG: Krum has been playing some stiff competition all year, and the Bobcats proved once again how difficult an out they are as they held on to beat perennial playoff favorite, Graham, on Friday. The game ended on a defensive stop at the 1-yard line, which is as exciting as it gets in high school football. At the beginning of the year, the sports staff here at the DRC pegged Ryan and Argyle as our two teams that would most likely make a run at a state title. Krum should be in that conversation now, too.

What you need to know: Wylie

Wylie quarterback Emilio Ames (15) throws a pass in the second quarter as Prosper High School hosted Wylie High School at B.W. Durham Stadium in Prosper on Friday night, October 16, 2015.  (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Wylie quarterback Emilio Ames (15) throws a pass in the second quarter as Prosper High School hosted Wylie High School at B.W. Durham Stadium in Prosper on Friday night, October 16, 2015. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

There are three games remaining in the regular season, and Guyer will be without its starting quarterback for at least this game and maybe next week’s at McKinney Boyd. As uneven as this matchup with Wylie might seem, it is technically very likely for the top seed in the Division II bracket in 6A out of District 6-6A since Plano has all but been eliminated and Plano East will now go Division I.

The Game: Guyer (5-2, 3-1) vs. Wylie (4-3, 3-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex

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

What happened last week: Wylie won its third straight game by dropping Plano to 0-4 in district play. Granted, the Pirates three consecutive wins have come against the worst teams in the district, but you play who you play, and Wylie has beaten them all since its district-opening loss to Plano East. Wylie rolled up 495 yards of offense on Plano last week with almost perfect run-pass balance, so quarterback Emilio Ames & Co. are coming in with a hot hand.

Guyer hung with No. 1 Allen for a quarter, and that was about it. By the time the middle of the third quarter rolled around, Guyer coach John Walsh said he was already thinking about Wylie. It was just one of those nights when a vastly superior team (to most teams in the country) made no mistakes and put it on Guyer. The biggest thing to come out of the game for Guyer was the loss of quarterback Luke Stillwell. He seemingly dodged a bullet as it looked like he might’ve suffered a broken collarbone, but it was just a bone bruise and he’s been cleared to return. That said, backup Thabo Mwaniki will get the start, and he’s not the average backup quarterback as he’s committed to Oklahoma State to play safety and is also the Wildcats’ leading receiver. He’s a freak athlete.

What to expect: This should be a physical game. Everyone knows Guyer’s physicality, but Wylie has a long history of being one of the most hard-nosed programs in DFW. Who wins that battle will go a long way to deciding who wins this game.

Final say: I don’t expect much decline from Guyer offensively without Stillwell, as the Wildcats’ offense makes it almost fool-proof at that position. Stillwell makes all the right reads and calls, but Mwaniki is faster and a shiftier runner. As long as Mwaniki doesn’t make big mistakes, the Wildcats’ offense should roll along just fine with Noah Cain and Myron Mason toting the rock. In the end, it should be another easy Guyer win against a team other than Allen or DeSoto.

Score prediction: Guyer 42, Wylie 17

Preseason basketball polls feature local flavor

Guyer freshman guard De'Vion Harmon (11) puts one up against South Grand Prarie, Friday, February 26, 2016, at Colleyville Heritage High School in Colleyville, Texas. David Minton/DRC

Guyer freshman guard De’Vion Harmon (11) puts one up against South Grand Prarie, Friday, February 26, 2016, at Colleyville Heritage High School in Colleyville, Texas. David Minton/DRC

While we’re knee deep in football season with just a few weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s pretty easy to forget that basketball season is just around the corner. 

The Texas Association of Basketball Coaches released their preseason state polls this week, and there are several area teams featured prominently, most notably the Guyer boys and the two-time defending girls 4A champions from Argyle.

Follow the jump to see each classification’s rankings with area teams highlighted…

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Playoff primer: Let’s try to map out Guyer’s road

Guyer head coach John Walsh argues with referees after the final play of the second quarter against Hebron, Friday, November 13, 2015, at Apogee Stadium in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer head coach John Walsh argues with referees after the final play of the second quarter against Hebron, Friday, November 13, 2015, at Apogee Stadium in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

There are still three games left in the regular season, but barring a complete surprise, we already know Guyer will be the No. 1 seed in the Class 6A Division II bracket out of District 6-6A, meaning the Wildcats would face the 2-seed in the Division II bracket from District 5-6A.

There’s just one problem. While 6-6A is pretty clear-cut, 5-6A is still a complete jumbled mess.

Here are the current standings in District 5-6A, along with enrollment figures for each school. Of course, the top two enrollments from each district’s playoff qualifiers go Division I, while the smaller two go Division II. I’ll also include the remaining schedules for each team.

Southlake Carroll (2,691) — 4-0: TC Nelson, L.D. Bell, Hebron

Hebron (3,454) — 3-1: Trinity, Lewisville, Carroll

Euless Trinity (3,378) — 2-2: Hebron, Flower Mound, FM Marcus

Flower Mound Marcus (3,317) — 2-2: Flower Mound, TC Nelson, Trinity

Flower Mound (3,541) — 2-2: FM Marcus, Trinity, Lewisville

Trophy Club Nelson (2,632) — 2-2: Carroll, FM Marcus, L.D. Bell

Lewisville (4,379) — 1-3: L.D. Bell, Hebron, Flower Mound

Hurst L.D. Bell (2,951) — 0-4: Lewisville, Carroll, TC Nelson

Hebron and Trinity are bolded because if the season ended today, those would be the two Division I representatives, and Guyer would host Flower Mound Marcus in the first round of the playoffs. But as you can tell, there’s still a lot that has to play out in this district.

Now, just for grins, let’s try to play out the rest of the season for all of these teams and project final district records. Since I am in a tight race for top spot in The Dallas Morning News high school pick ‘em this year (Humble brag!), I think you can trust these prognostications.

Southlake Carroll, 7-0

Trinity, 5-2

Hebron, 4-3

FM Marcus, 4-3

Flower Mound, 3-4

TC Nelson, 3-4

Lewisville, 2-5

L.D. Bell, 0-7

So, after all that, it looks like if I’m correct, it will, indeed be Hebron and Trinity that go Division I and leave Guyer to host Marcus in the first round of the playoffs. The one wild card here is if Flower Mound beats Marcus in the Mound Showdown this week, which isn’t only a rivalry game but now is a huge game for playoff implications.

If Flower Mound does beat Marcus and ends up bumping the Marauders out of the playoffs, Flower Mound goes Division I and bumps Trinity down to Division II. If that happens, Trinity would come to C.H. Collins for a first-round playoff game between two of the most physical programs in DFW.

Is it the most likely scenario? No. But is it definitely possible? Yeah, it is.

Basically, I can say with great confidence, Guyer will either be hosting Marcus or Trinity in the first round, and either way it’s going to be a 2-hour game because all three of those teams like to run the ball, and run it often. For a sports writer who deals with deadlines, that is awesome news.

If Guyer moves on past that first-round game, the Wildcats would likely draw Cedar Hill, which is a team that has been on really high highs this year and also hit some really low lows. One thing we do know about Cedar Hill? They have a lot of trouble stopping the run, and we all know that would play heavily into Guyer’s hands. The Longhorns would score points, but they’d have a tough time stopping Noah Cain and Myron Mason.

Third round? You’re most likely looking at a rematch with San Angelo Central, which is a vastly improved team this year from the one that pushed Guyer to the brink last year and could finally put a West Texas team deep into the 6A playoffs for the first time in a good while.

However, there is still a pretty decent chance Central goes Division I out of 2-6A. The last two spots in that district are still very much up for grabs between three teams: Wolfforth Frenship, Amarillo Tascosa and Midland Lee. If Lee gets in, Central goes Division II. If Lee is left on the outside looking in, Central goes Division I.

Get past the Bobcats, and you’re looking at a rematch with DeSoto, which of course, beat Guyer 51-17 in Week 2 behind Guyer’s former quarterback, Shawn Robinson.

We’re getting way ahead of ourselves now, but I hope this helps a little bit. Guyer is a program built for deep playoff runs, which is proven by its playoff history of eight straight years of making the playoffs with two second-round exits and the other six going at least four rounds deep. Pay close attention to that Mound Showdown at Flower Mound on Friday night, it will be huge for Guyer’s playoff scenario.