- Tyler Harden
Denton Ryan caps off season with a prevailing 5A D1 state championship win over Cedar Park
Photo Credit: Houston Cronicle
ARLINGTON, TEXAS— The Denton Ryan Raiders have not won a state championship since 2002. Since then, especially recently, the Raiders have always been close, but couldn’t come out as state champions. In the last five years, Ryan has had five losses. With the team they had this year, led by 5-star athlete and Texas signee, Ja’Tavion Sanders, and 4-star athlete and Oklahoma signee, Billy Bowman, they knew this was the team to end the drought. It wouldn’t come very easy, however, as the Cedar Park Timberwolves, led by quarterback, Ryder Hernandez, came in feeling they could win a 5A D1 state championship, and knock off one of the best teams in Texas in order to do so. But the Raiders stayed true to themselves, knowing they have dominated all season, and that this game would be no different.
Ryan started the game off with the ball, and they immediately started to march down the field. After running back, Kalib Hicks, ran for the Raiders’ first 1st down of the game, Ja’Tavion Sanders caught a pass for another first down, and a 28-yard gain to the Cedar Park 21-yard line. The Cedar Park defense was able to force a 4th and goal, however, and Ryan had to settle for a 24-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. When the Timberwolves got the ball, Ryder Hernandez started to connect with his receivers like he had all season. Hernandez and the Timberwolves went down the field to the Ryan 30-yard line, but after the Raider defense forced an 8-yard loss, they forced 4th down and 21 and a punt.
The Ryan run game got going from here, as Kalib and Ke’ori Hicks led the Raiders to the Cedar Park 13-yard line. Ke’ori Hicks was able to get into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown to give Ryan a 10-0 lead (PAT good). After Hernandez completed a deep pass to Tristan Hervey to the Ryan 34-yard line, the first quarter ended with Ryan leading 10-0.
Both teams couldn’t get their offenses going to start the second quarter. That was until Ryder Hernandez and his receivers led the Timberwolves to the Ryan 11-yard line. Hernandez found Jack Hestera in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown to make the score 10-8 (2-point conversion good). Ryan had answer. After the Timberwolves forced 3rd down and 7, quarterback, Seth Henigan, completed a pass to Keagan Cunningham, and he ran down the sideline for a 48-yard touchdown (PAT good).
The Raiders’ defense, which is arguably one of the best defenses in the state of Texas, made an impact on Cedar Park’s next possession. Ryan safety, Ty Marsh, intercepted a pass from Ryder Hernandez, and returned it to their own 35-yard line. This led to Seth Henigan finding Billy Bowman for a deep touchdown to give Ryan a 24-8 lead (PAT good). The Ryan defense wouldn’t stop there. On the Timberwolves’ next possession, Garyreon Robinson intercepted a pass from Hernandez, and gave the offense great field position at the Cedar Park 19-yard line. Seth Henigan, who is signed with the University of Memphis, took advantage. After Henigan found Michael Davis to bring the Raiders to the 1-yard line, Anthony Hill Jr. punched it in for a 1-yard touchdown to make the score 31-8.
Cedar Park wouldn’t go away. Hernandez kept connecting with receivers, and the Timberwolves went down the field deep into Ryan territory. However, when Hernandez completed a pass to Josh Cameron, Ty Marsh ripped the ball out of his hands, and recovered at the 6-yard line where Ryan took over. After Ke’ori Hicks and Seth Henigan led the Raiders to their own 30-yard line, they went into halftime with a 31-8 lead.
Ryan kept their momentum going into the second half, as the defense forced a fumble on 3rd down, and Marquice Hill recovered the football in the end zone for a touchdown (PAT good). The Raider defense forced a punt. After the Timberwolves forced 3rd down and 23, Ke’ori Hicks found room to run, and converted for a first down with a 40-yard gain to the Cedar Park 32-yard line. Seth Henigan then connected with Michael Davis, who made a great move to run in for a 30-yard touchdown to make the score 45-8 (PAT good). Cedar Park still wouldn’t go away. Ryder Hernandez completed a deep pass to Jack Hestera to bring the Timberwolves to the Ryan 9-yard line. He then found Cade Haught in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown (PAT good). After Anthony Hill Jr. converted on third down and 2 for a first down, the third quarter ended with Ryan in the lead 45-14.
Henigan kept going at the start of the fourth quarter, as he found Ja’Tavion Sanders in the end zone, who made a great catch for a touchdown (PAT good). After the Raider defense forced a punt from Cedar Park, Kalib Hicks was able to find room to run for a first down and goal to the Cedar Park 8-yard line. Ke’ori Hicks capped off the drive, reaching past the goal line for a touchdown, and made the score 59-14 (PAT good). The Raiders were able to forced one last punt from Cedar Park, they ran out the remaining time on the clock, and secured a 5A D1 state championship.
Denton Ryan finishes their spectacular season with a record of 15-0. The Raiders will likely end the season not only as one of the top teams in the state of Texas, but the entire country. Some may even consider them one of the best 5A teams in the past decade in Texas. Cedar Park finishes their great season with a record of 14-1.