• Tyler Harden

Denton Ryan advances to 5A D1 Semifinals with important win over Highland Park

Photo Credit: Fort Worth Star-Telegram (dfwVarsity)

ARLINGTON, TEXAS— The Denton Ryan Raiders have been arguably the most electric team this 2020 high school football season in the state of Texas. The Raiders, led by the athlete dynamic duo, Texas signee, Ja’Tavion Sanders, and Oklahoma signee, Billy Bowman, have put up a great deal of points each game in their undefeated season this year. But in order to keep their perfect season going, Ryan would have to get past one of their toughest opponents all season, Highland Park. The Highland Park Scots, led by quarterback and Hawaii commit, Brayden Schager, also had an undefeated season to protect going into the 5A D1 quarterfinal matchup. Ryan and Highland Park were considered by most the two best teams in 5A in Texas, and each team wanted to prove that they were the best.


The Ryan defense started the game off forcing a three and out, and the Raider offense took over with great field position at their own 46-yard line. Quarterback, Seth Henigan, connected with his receivers early, and led the Raiders down the field to the Highland Park 8-yard line. Ja’Tavion Sanders capped off the drive with an outstanding one hand catch in the end zone from Henigan to put Ryan up 7-0 (PAT good).


The Raider defense limited the Highland Park offense once again, forcing another three and out. But this time, Ryan didn’t go down the field so easily. After the Scots came up with a big sack on third down, and pushed Ryan back to their own 44-yard line, the Raiders punted, and gave Highland Park the ball at their own 24-yard line. However, the Scots still couldn’t get their offense going, and were forced to punt once again, giving the Raiders the ball at their own 36-yard line. This time the Raiders were able to take advantage, as Seth Henigan found Billy Bowman wide open down the field for a 65-yard touchdown, and Ryan took a 14-0 lead (PAT good).


But Highland Park wouldn’t go away, as the Scots were able to pick up their first 1st down of the game off of a pass interference penalty on Ryan. This caused the Highland Park offense to find some momentum, as Brayden Schager led the Scots down the field to the Ryan 30-yard line. Schager was then able to find Crockett Corwin in the end zone for a sliding catch and a touchdown (PAT good). After Ryan running back, Kalib Hicks, ran for a first down to the Highland Park 20-yard line, the first quarter ended with Ryan up 14-7.


Highland Park came into the second quarter with intensity on defense, as the Scots forced a 4th and 15 from the Highland Park 25-yard line. The Raiders went for it, couldn’t convert, and gave Highland Park the ball at their own 25. Schager got the offense going once again, leading the Scots to the Ryan 16-yard line. The dominant Raider defense kept control, however, as they forced a 4th and 17 from the 41-yard line. After the Scots attempted a 41-yard field goal, Ryan blocked the field goal, Billy Bowman recovered the football for Ryan, and returned it to the Highland Park 23-yard line. But Highland Park bounced back, as the defense forced a turnover on 4th and11, and took over at their own 15-yard line.


The offense couldn’t get down the field, however, as Ryan forced another 3 and out. Seth Henigan was able to lead the Raiders down the field to the Highland Park 23-yard line just before halftime. Ryan couldn’t get in the end zone, however, and were forced to attempt a 34-yard field goal. After Ryan made the field goal, the half ended with Ryan up 17-7.


The Highland Park defense made an impact once again at the start of the second half. The Scots were able to come up with a stop on 4th down on Ryan’s first possession, and give the ball to the offense at the Ryan 48-yard line. The Ryan defense answered, as they also forced a three and out, and the offense took over at their own 14-yard line. The Raiders went back to work, marching down the field to the Highland Park 28-yard line. Highland Park kept control, however, as they forced the first turnover of the game with an interception by Walker Cobb. The third quarter ended with Ryan still up 17-7.


After Highland Park started the fourth quarter off with a punt, Ty Marsh returned the punt for Ryan all the way to the Highland Park 25-yard line, but penalties pushed the Raiders back to their own 41-yard line. After Henigan completed a first down pass to Keagan Cunningham, his next pass was intercepted by Patrick Turner at the Ryan 43-yard line. The Scots couldn’t take advantage, however, as they couldn’t convert on fourth down, and turned the ball over to Ryan at the Raiders’ 23-yard line. Ja’Tavion Sanders was able to make a big catch and run play off a pass from Henigan, as he ran for a big gain to the Highland Park 25-yard line. But the Scots defense held them from potentially getting the end zone. The defense came up with a stop on fourth down, and gave the offense the ball at their own 17-yard line.


In order to decrease Ryan’s lead to a one possession lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Scots needed to get down the field and score. Schager was able to complete a pass to Grayson Schrank, and Schrank ran for a big gain to the Ryan 30-yard line. But the Ryan defense came up big when it mattered most, as an interception gave the ball to the Raiders at their own 24-yard line. After running back, Anthony Hill, ran for a first down to their own 35-yard line, Ryan ran out the clock, and won the important quarterfinal matchup over Highland Park 17-7.


Denton Ryan continues their dominant season, as they remain one of the top teams in the state of Texas, and improve their record to 13-0. The Raiders will take on Mansfield Summit in the semifinals, who upset Red Oak 41-38. Highland Park finishes their season with their only loss, and ends with a record of 11-1.

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