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.