DISD AD Ken Purcell praised UNT’s efforts to play Monday’s games

We finally got past that pesky regional final round of the state high school football playoffs. You know, that round that’s been delayed because of all this pesky ice on the roads.

Ryan and Guyer played their respective regional final games yesterday in a “doubleheader” at North Texas’ Apogee Stadium (the Ryan game started at 3 p.m., Guyer at 7:30 p.m.)

Denton ISD Ken Purcell had great things to say about the folks at UNT and Derek Grice, the head of facilities at UNT.

 

As of Monday morning, this is what the field looked like:

And when I showed up to the stadium, the field looked like this:


Purcell flagged me down in the press box at Apogee and emphatically praised UNT and Grice.

“We started working Thursday on sites, when the storm blew in,” Purcell said. “And the University of North Texas has been super. Some people are a little bit bothered by the parking lots and the stands and all that. But yesterday, there was four inches of snow and ice on there. In fact, at 7 o’clock [Monday] morning, there were four inches of snow and ice on there.

“And I was out here and I watched them. They rented tractors and everything to make sure this field is playable, and I’m just amazed at how good this field looks.”

Guyer originally was going to play at Justin Northwest, but that game was moved to Apogee and was scheduled after the Ryan game. It was highly important to get the games in on Monday, because the UIL says five days must be between football games.

The UNT athletic department staff also scraped off a section of the bleachers on the student side of the stadium so fans could enjoy a couple of pretty good games.

 

What you need to know: Cedar Hill

Aca'cedric Ware and the Cedar Hill Longhorns play Ryan on Monday with a berth in the Class 5A Division II state semifinals on the line. (Garett Ray Fisbeck/The Dallas Morning News)

When Ryan steps back onto the field at Apogee Stadium on Monday, the Raiders will be nine days removed from the biggest comeback in school history. Ryan hopes there is still some magic left at Apogee for the Class 5A Division II Region I final against Cedar Hill.

No more ice problems. No more waiting around. Finally, we have football.

Here’s what you need to know about Cedar Hill.

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What you need to know: Fossil Ridge

Quarterback Jacob Gnacinski lead Keller Fossil Ridge against Ryan in Saturday's Class 5A Division II regional semifinal. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

It’s not Thanksgiving in Texas without a great slate of high school football games. We’re not done with the regional semifinals yet. Ryan and Keller Fossil Ridge square off today with a trip to the state quarterfinals on the line, and we’ve got you covered before you head out to Apogee Stadium today.

Here’s what you need to know about today’s regional semifinal matchup.

Class 5A Division II Region II semifinal

Ryan (9-2) vs. Keller Fossil Ridge (9-3), Apogee Stadium, 1 p.m.

Series record: Fossil Ridge leads 3-1

How we got here: Ryan is coming off a huge win against Waco Midway last week. The Raiders erased a 13-point halftime deficit to pick up a 34-33 victory against Midway. In the locker room after the game, it was apparent that the win transcended regular playoff wins. It gives Ryan a lot of momentum going into today’s game.

“It’ll be one of my fondest memories because it was such a big stage and you’re down 13 points. I didn’t think we played bad,” Ryan head coach Joey Florence said.

Fossil Ridge, on the other hand, is coming off a convincing 39-7 win against San Angelo Central. Ryan Parker had seven catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Jacob Gnacinski completed 16 of 32 passes for 220 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

What’s happened in the past: Ryan has lost three straight contests to Fossil Ridge. In 2006 and 2007, the Panthers knocked Ryan out of the playoffs in the bi-district round of the 5A Division II playoffs. It was one of the few times Ryan has failed to win a playoff game. I’m sure Florence and the Raiders are less concerned about the three-game losing streak and are more worried about advancing to next week’s contest.

What to expect this year: Don’t look at Fossil Ridge’s record and sleep on the Panthers. Fossil Ridge has key talent at key positions that could give Ryan fits this afternoon.

Defensively, Ryan will need to shutdown Parker (1,102 receiving yards, 15 TDs) and Gnacinski. Those two account for most of Fossil Ridge’s offense, and Gnacinski (58.5 completion percentage, 2,557 passing yards, 25 TDs, 14 INTs) will be the best dual-threat quarterback Ryan has seen all season. The Ryan secondary will be asked to have another big performance this week.

Offensively, the Raiders will have to contend with Fossil Ridge’s strong defensive line and a secondary that features defensive back Nick Foster, who orally committed to TCU.

This game could be decided by which team is better at the line of scrimmage.

Ryan’s defensive line will need to pressure Gnacinski and hasten his decision-making process. Ryan’s d-line is one of the reasons the Raiders have forced 15 turnovers in their last three games.

Ryan’s offensive line will need to open up holes for running backs Tyrone Williams and Maurice Gordon. Fossil Ridge limited SA Central to 50 yards on 25 carries last week.

Ryan player to watch: DB Paul Hunter

Fossil Ridge player to watch: WR Ryan Parker

Ryan’s potential playoff sites set for next round

If Ryan can find a way past Waco Midway in tomorrow’s Class 5A Division II area playoff game, the Raiders could be rewarded with a game at Denton’s biggest stadium.

With a Ryan victory tomorrow, the Raiders will face either San Angelo Central or Keller Fossil Ridge.

The potential sites for those games, according to Denton ISD athletic director Ken Purcell, are:

Ryan at San Angelo Central, Saturday, Nov. 30, 1 p.m. 

OR

Ryan vs. Keller Fossil Ridge at Apogee Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 30, 1 p.m. 

The original plan earlier in the week was for Ryan to squeeze its way into AT&T Stadium next Friday in one of the three available slots. But Ryan wasn’t able to find its way into the tripleheader at Jerry World.

There were also discussions of playing SA Central in Abilene, but since Abilene is only 90 miles northeast of San Angelo, it made sense to go ahead and flip for home-and-home. Ryan lost the flip.

Now, both of those circumstances are thrown out the window if the Raiders can’t win tomorrow against Midway. I’m sure Ryan will be happy to be playing anywhere next weekend. But Thanksgiving weekend matchup at Apogee does sound pretty nice.