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.


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.

Weekend recap: Little bit of everything

Guyer senior linebacker Gio Williams (8) tackles McKinney junior running back Matthew Gadek (9) for no gain on fourth-and-1, Friday, October 7, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Guyer senior linebacker Gio Williams (8) tackles McKinney junior running back Matthew Gadek (9) for no gain on fourth-and-1, Friday, October 7, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

This week’s game in the area featured blowouts, games interrupted by Mother Nature and overtime thrillers between top-notch teams. It gave us a true sample of everything that is great about high school football, and my compadre Steve and I are here to recap the weekend that was Denton-area high school football.

McKinney at Guyer

AB: For the second straight week, Guyer allowed points in the first minutes of a game. For the second straight week, that was all she wrote for the opposing offense. Are Plano East and McKinney world beaters? No, but they both had offenses averaging better than 30 points per game entering their game against Guyer, and the Wildcats dominated. At this point, it’s basically a lock the Wildcats will dominate with their rushing attack, and if their defense keeps doing this, look out. This week will be a stiff test and good barometer as Guyer travels to No. 1 Allen. Check my Twitter (@aboedeker) if you want to see John Walsh’s thoughts on playing the state’s No. 1 team. This is going to be a good one.

SG: Guyer has put up some impressive offensive numbers courtesy of some amazing players on that side of the ball over the years, but the program has always had a suffocating defense. For the second straight week, the Wildcats dominated a District 6-6A opponent thanks to that unit. I’m not shocked, but color me impressed. Head coach John Walsh feels incredibly confident in this group, which could be the catalyst to lead Guyer deep into the playoffs. Not to be outdone, that running game continues to churn out yards. Teams know what’s coming. They can’t stop it.

Denton at Wichita Falls

AB: If we’re being real, it’s going to be really hard to get a good gauge on Denton until the postseason starts, which can be both a blessing and a hindrance, depending on how a team approaches things. This isn’t your father’s District 5-5A, which was a really competitive district the past two years and prepared the Broncos for the playoffs. Wichita Falls is nothing like what Denton will see in November, and frankly, no team they see from here on out will be. Denton has to just focus on making itself better every week, and I fully believe Kevin Atkinson will drill that into his team.

SG: I saw this one coming. I mean, the District 5-5A schedule is not strong beyond Ryan and Denton. Since losing big to Ryan, the Broncos have reestablished themselves as the next-best team in this district. Did I mention the Denton defense forced five turnovers against Old High? Colt Atkinson again turned in solid numbers, and he’s being made to look even better with guys like Chris Houston and running back Caleb Osuofa.

Braswell at Sherman

AB: Things aren’t getting any easier or better for Braswell. The Bengals struggled to move the ball once again — this time against an average Sherman team. The Bengals have suffered tons of bad breaks on the injury front, with every quarterback they roll out there going down to injury, it seems. You have to feel for the Bengals’ players, but the good thing is they’re all underclassmen and can work their tails off for a year after this inaugural season is over.

SG:  A loooooong inaugural season for Braswell continues. Head coach Cody Moore said last week that he wanted to establish the running game against Braswell, mainly for two reasons: 1. Sherman has not done a great job stopping the run so far this season, and 2. The Bengals don’t have a quarterback thanks to a slew of injuries. The plan didn’t work. Braswell not only couldn’t run the ball, but it was held to 75 total yards – all on the ground – in a 42-7 loss.

Argyle at Decatur

AB: Checking on this game from time to time on Twitter, it looked like Argyle was getting its money’s worth from Decatur in both teams’ district opener. With Dane Ledford back in the fold, you have to figure Argyle will hit its stride and begin its journey to another deep playoff run. He had a big game in his return from a fractured wrist, throwing for four touchdowns. Now, we just count down the days until Argyle hoists its most recent district championship trophy…

SG:  I had the privilege of covering this game. I say privilege because it’s always fun watching this Eagles team work. Offensively, Dane Ledford returned from a wrist injury and rolled up nearly 300 yards through the air and four touchdowns. Don Williams rushed for nearly 200 yards and added three total touchdowns (2 rush, 1 pass). Defensively, the Eagles shut down a Decatur offense that definitely has some stars. Overall, solid win for Argyle to start off district play.

Krum at Iowa Park

AB: Since losing to Sanger in Week 2, Krum has made everyone in its way pay dearly for what was a hard-fought, close loss. The Bobcats did it again on Friday night in an epic clash with previously unbeaten Iowa Park, and they did it on the road in a tough environment. Once again, Krum did most of its damage with its pounding rushing attack led by quarterback Brandon Reeves and running back Haeden Knight, as well as its suffocating defense. Krum has established itself as a favorite to make it out of Region I in Class 4A Division II — not bad for a fledgling program.

SG:  Can Brandon Reeves be any more amazing than he already has this season? I mean, seriously … seven touchdowns? With that type of performance against a previously-unbeaten team, it’s shocking this game went three overtimes. Had Reeves not been in Krum’s corner, things would not have turned out the same for the Bobcats. Krum is rolling y’all. It doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon.

Sanger at Wichita Falls Hirschi

AB: This game was played over two days thanks to Mother Nature, and after the delay, Sanger got the better of a game Hirschi squad. Surprise, surprise: The Indians relied heavily upon their ground game behind running backs Dameon Moser and Gavin Brown — so much so they didn’t even need quarterback CJ Jackson to do too much.

SG: This game was interesting in the sense that it was delayed due to weather, and before the delay, Sanger was trailing 28-14. The Indians regrouped in a big way to win 49-41 and did so by leaning on the running back combo of Dameon Moser and Gavin Brown. The duo combined for 342 yards and six scores.

Weekend recap: One rivalry resumes, another begins (for wrong reason)

Denton Guyer High School running back Myron Mason (2) breaks off a big run during the second half as Plano Senior High School hosted Denton Guyer High School at John Clark Field in Plano on Friday night, September 23, 2016.  (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Denton Guyer High School running back Myron Mason (2) breaks off a big run during the second half as Plano Senior High School hosted Denton Guyer High School at John Clark Field in Plano on Friday night, September 23, 2016. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Ryan and Denton resumed their rivalry after a four-year hiatus on Friday. This time, Ryan was good (as usual) and Denton was good too (not the case the last time the teams played), but Ryan showed they are still above and beyond what anyone else in District 5-5A is.

Meanwihle, Guyer had a big win over Plano that wasn’t too aesthetically pleasing and was soured by a dirty, dirty play in the game that is sure to create some bad blood when the teams meet next year at C.H. Collins.

My buddy Steve and I take a look back on the area football weekend with our weekly recap, coming now…

Continue reading

Weekend recap: It’s not how you start…

Denton Ryan senior wide receiver Jimmy Love (13) tries to evade tackles from Wylie East senior defensive back Corey Gentle (4) and junior linebacker Justin Smith (12), Thursday, September 8, 2016, in Wylie, Texas.  Jeff Woo/DRC

Denton Ryan senior wide receiver Jimmy Love (13) tries to evade tackles from Wylie East senior defensive back Corey Gentle (4) and junior linebacker Justin Smith (12), Thursday, September 8, 2016, in Wylie, Texas. Jeff Woo/DRC

In a week that didn’t feature a whole lot in the way of big matchups in the area, there were a few that stood out in the gaggle of duds. Ryan remained unbeaten with a win over yet another quality opponent. Argyle avenged a crushing loss from last season, and Sanger got the best of Krum in a matchup of top-notch area Class 4A squads. Steve Gamel and I take a look back on the weekend in our weekly recap…

Ryan at Wylie East

AB: So the general theme surrounding Ryan so far this season has been the Raiders’ slow offensive starts. While that’s been true, the Raiders’ offense still has some players, most notably under center. When you have that, you’re usually going to end up being OK, and Spencer Sanders saw to it again on Thursday with a phenomenal second half to help Ryan run away with a convincing win over a good Wylie East team. The Raiders arguably have the toughest nondistrict schedule in the state in Class 5A, and they’ve got a 3-0 record with another big clash coming against Frisco Lone Star. Yeah, the offense has had its share of problems, but with a defense like that and the playmakers on offense, Ryan is going to be very tough to beat.

SG: Another great win for Ryan. While sitting in the press box prior to Thursday’s game, I overheard a few Mesquite Poteet coaches talking. Ryan had rallied the previous week in the second half to pick up the win, and those coaches kept saying their kids gave Ryan everything they could. That was a true statement, and it’s true for each of Ryan’s first three opponents. All of them are good teams, but they don’t have what Ryan has. People keep asking me what’s wrong with Ryan? Honestly, the Raiders are playing good teams, so it’s going to be a tough road. But their punishing defense wears teams down, and despite its slow starts, the offense has too many weapons to be held down for four quarters.

Guyer at Dallas Kimball

AB: There really wasn’t much to say about this game. Kimball was vastly overmatched, and while I commend the Knights’ coaches for wanting a matchup with Guyer, you have to wonder if it was even too much of a step up in weight class. Truthfully, it’s hard to imagine what good Kimball gets out of a 63-7 thrashing, and the same goes for Guyer. One thing Guyer did get was some confidence heading into its bye week and the subsequent District 6-6A opener against Plano. Luke Stillwell opened up the passing game that had accounted for 39 yards in two games by throwing for more than 200 yards and four touchdowns in one half of action. The Wildcats had shown they could throw the ball in a scrimmage against Euless Trinity, and they reaffirmed it Friday, albeit in a gross mismatch.

SG: Without having read my buddy Adam’s assessment of the Wildcats’ latest win, I’m sure I am echoing his thoughts when I say kudos should go out to Dallas Kimball for stepping up to ask Guyer for this Week 3 game. Most people may not know that. It was a tall order and a game Kimball was destined to lose, but it shows what type of program Kimball wants to be. As for the game, there’s really not much to say because the Wildcats dominated in every way possible. I hear Adam had his story written by halftime – must be nice.

The Colony at Denton

AB: The Broncos continue to find ways to win tight games behind a solid running game and a defense that won’t crack. The latest victim was The Colony, who couldn’t get a late big play to topple the Broncos. Denton will face another test this weekend against an upstart, unbeaten Keller Timber Creek that might be finding its identity after a few lean years upon the school opening. The Broncos should be favored, but going on the road on a short week won’t be easy for the Broncos.

SG: Denton found itself in another tight game going into the second half, but flexed its muscle in route to another solid win. The Broncos came into this week at No. 8 in The Associated Press’ Class 5A poll, and you have to believe they will stay ranked for the rest of this season. Caleb Osuofa is turning out to be a solid running back, and Colt Atkinson is doing some good things under center. Up next is a matchup against Class 6A Keller Timber Creek. I’ve never really thought too highly of Timber Creek as an opponent, but it’s a chance to build momentum heading into the District 5-5A opener against Ryan.

Braswell at Frisco Reedy

AB: To be perfectly honest, I was starting to wonder what I was going to write each week for Braswell’s games in these recaps after the Bengals were outscored 112-0 in their first two games. But they put on a good showing on Thursday night at the Ford Center at the Star — Frisco’s new monstrosity of a stadium. Cody Moore has still yet to find his high-flying passing attack he led at Mesquite Horn and Rockwall prior to starting the Braswell program, but he did find a 100-yard back in Ki’Andre Jackson. It’s going to be a lean year for Braswell, who saw its best chance at a win escape it, but with each passing week the Bengals seem to be improving.

SG: At 0-3, surely the Bengals’ coaching staff is looking at third-string quarterback Palmer Campbell as a realistic starter for this week’s game against Kaufman. Palmer stepped in against Reedy this past week as the starter due to injuries, and completed 16 of 25 passes for 88 yards. According to our Jimmy Isbell, coach Cody Moore lamented over not giving Palmer more chances to rack up yardage in a game the Bengals only lost, 28-12. There are no moral victories, but that’s a step forward for a team that had been outscored 112-0 coming in. Oh, and another thing – good job to Ki’Andre Jackson, who rushed for 160 yards and scored both touchdowns.

Celina at Argyle

AB: This one had to feel good for Argyle. True, Celina is obviously not the same team that walloped Argyle a year ago and went on to play in the Class 4A Division II state championship game — a game the Bobcats lost after starting quarterback Conner Pingleton broke his arm early in the game. Pingleton is still there, but something isn’t the same because the Bobcats aren’t nearly the team they were a year ago. However, with Argyle’s dynamic senior quarterback Dane Ledford out with a wrist injury, the Eagles are far from full strength either. And the Eagles put it on Celina in a big way to avenge last year’s loss and remain unbeaten on the year heading into a big road game at Abilene Wylie.

SG: Hayden Clearman, everybody. I don’t want to take away from a defense that did a tremendous job completely shutting down Celina’s offense, but the sophomore under center looked tremendous. And I can say that because I was there. Clearman threw just four incomplete passes while rolling up 226 yards and three touchdowns. That type of performance is just what the doctor ordered for an Argyle offense that soon enough will have Tulane commit Dane Ledford (wrist) back at quarterback. Until then, Clearman is no slouch.

Krum at Sanger

AB: This game lived up to the billing as one of the better matchups of the weekend as Sanger ended up pulling out a 14-6 win in what was expected to be a defensive clash. Krum will be just fine after a loss to a big 4A school, and Sanger rebounded nicely from a close loss to a big Class 5A school in Denton last week. Sanger’s offense is proving to be really versatile with CJ Jackson throwing for 300 yards one week and Dameon Moser throwing up 100-plus on the ground in a grind-it-out game the following week. With the Indians’ defense as good as ever, this team has a chance to be special later in the year.

SG: Neither Adam nor I got to see this game, which we pegged as a potential classic coming in. At 2-0, Krum looked red hot. Even Sanger’s wide-open passing attack appeared to be on-point. What ended up happening was a tight game that saw Sanger capitalize on a solid showing from Dameon Moser in a 14-6 win. Opponents really need to take Sanger a bit more seriously. As for Krum, one loss doesn’t break this season. They’ll be fine.



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.














Weekend recap: End of the road

Allen quarterback Mitchell Jonke (2) dives for a touchdown as Ryan linebacker Nick Watts tries for the stop in the first quarter during the Allen High School Eagles vs. the Denton Ryan High School Raiders playoff football game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Saturday, December 5, 2015. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

Allen quarterback Mitchell Jonke (2) dives for a touchdown as Ryan linebacker Nick Watts tries for the stop in the first quarter during the Allen High School Eagles vs. the Denton Ryan High School Raiders playoff football game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Saturday, December 5, 2015. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

While Argyle and Lake Dallas lived to see another week and a state semifinal football game, this past weekend marked the end of the road for three other DRC-area teams, as Guyer, Ryan and Krum all lost in the regional final round.

Buckle up, as Steve and I look back on the week that was and look ahead to next week’s games while putting a bow on the season of the departed teams.

Ryan vs Allen

AB: When I was on Dave Campbell’s Texas Football podcast on Friday, I was asked what Ryan would have to do to win this game and what kind of chance I thought the Raiders had at pulling the gigantic upset. I proceeded to tell them my line about how I told myself after the Ryan-Guyer game that I was finished picking against Ryan. Then, came this game. Sorry, but I just don’t see anyone beating Allen this year. The fact Ryan made the game somewhat interesting is a testament to the year the Raiders had, and to do that without super-special two-way star Tyreke Davis was really impressive. Another thing from that podcast: It was brought up that we might as well start calling Ryan the 2016 Class 5A Division I state champion, because, y’all, it’s gonna happen. Great season for the Raiders, and I think it’s safe to say their 13-0 start was totally unexpected, and I’ll call Steve a liar if he says otherwise.

SG: I wrote in my game story that Ryan had practically every card in the deck stacked against it heading into this game, but in no way was that to suggest the Raiders didn’t belong there. Many experts refused to give Ryan its due credit this season, and maybe that’s because as reporters we get comfortable seeing certain teams in the mix every year. The thing is, Ryan is one of those teams. Yes, the Raiders were coming off a 5-5 season, but going 13-1 this year is about the standard since 2000. There was every reason to believe Ryan could beat Allen, at least in my opinion. That didn’t happen, but that’s OK. This program is back in the mix, and with a drop to Class 5A next year, will go from being the team no one wanted to pick each week this season to being the odds on favorite. This season only proved that point.

Guyer vs Mansfield

AB: This game got out of hand, but not before Guyer blew a chance to possibly get the ball rolling the other way when they shot themselves in the foot repeatedly in the first quarter. Truthfully, Guyer had a great chance to have a three-score lead in the first quarter, as its defense was bottling up Mansfield’s offense and getting turnovers of its own. Only problem was, Guyer had three first-quarter fumbles and five turnovers in the game, and oh, another thing, Mansfield was really, really good. Like John Walsh said after the game, those fumbles made the game out of hand, but I’m not exactly positive Guyer would’ve won that game even without the fumbles. It definitely would’ve been a lot closer though. A lot happened to Guyer this year — injuries, identity shift, and other stuff — and for the Wildcats to find themselves in Round 4 with a chance at the state semis speaks volumes about what they were able to do this season.

SG: I was a little surprised by this outcome. This round of playoffs is always tough to predict because every team that has made it this far is extremely talented. Mansfield is a perfect example, but a Guyer win was not out of the question. Had Guyer lost by one or two touchdowns, I wouldn’t have batted an eye, but to lose 44-7? I remember reading my buddy Adam on Twitter that Guyer’s opening touchdown drive looked incredibly easy. But they didn’t score again and were held to a paltry 190 yards. Guyer hasn’t lost by that wide a margin, or been beaten that soundly, since it was a fledgling program 9-10 years ago. It’s far from a death sentence, and the Wildcats have plenty to be proud of in a season where – like Ryan – many experts weren’t giving them enough credit.

Continue reading

Weekend recap: Winner-winner, chicken dinner

Denton Guyer High School cornerback Dio Williams (38) celebrates an interception in the end zone to help secure the win in front of San Angelo Central High School wide receiver Cal Vincent (7) during the fourth quarter as Denton Guyer High School hosted San Angelo Central High School at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, November 27, 2015.  (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Denton Guyer High School cornerback Dio Williams (38) celebrates an interception in the end zone to help secure the win in front of San Angelo Central High School wide receiver Cal Vincent (7) during the fourth quarter as Denton Guyer High School hosted San Angelo Central High School at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, November 27, 2015. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

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

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

Guyer vs San Angelo Central

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

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

Ryan vs Amarillo Tascosa, Today

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

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

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.