For the No. 3 Denton Ryan Raiders, the regional semifinal round of the Class 5A, Division I playoffs is familiar territory. So is the game’s location.
C.H. Collins Athletic Complex is the home field to all Denton ISD programs, so facing Abilene Cooper on Friday at 3 p.m. will be a strong advantage for the Raiders as they look to advance one step closer to the state championship game.
Ryan has talent everywhere. Multiple kids have Division I offers, including the standout 5-star Alabama commit Drew Sanders, who is a force on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
For Cooper, it is going to be a challenge to come up with a defensive game plan to stop Sanders the Raiders’ potent offense.
Defensively, the Raiders are flat out nasty, quietly putting together a unit that is arguably the best in the state.
Ryan’s defense only allows an average of 9 points per game, and in the area game last week, gave up just 14 to Coronado.
Cooper comes into this game with a ton of confidence thanks in part to standout quarterback Aidan Thompson and a running game capable of keeping any defense on its toes.
Cooper running back Noah Garcia has several games with at least 200 rushing yards and multiple touchdowns.
The Cougars will need stellar performances from their run game if they plan on controlling the tempo in this matchup, while the defense hopes to match its season average of only allowing 18 points.
This game is critical for a stout Cougars defensive unit as it prepares to face a top prospect in Sanders.
Ryan wins 42-28