Photo: Joseph Nguyen/TexasHSFootball

DENTON, Texas — The Denton Ryan and Fort Worth Brewer High Schools meet in a Class 5A DI bi-district playoff matchup for the 2nd year in a row when the hype settles and the smoke from entrance tunnels clear Thursday at C.H. Collins Stadium.

Last year’s contest was won by Denton Ryan 54-14 in Fort Worth, as the Raiders marched on to the semi-finals and eventually falling to eventual state champion Highland Park after star quarterback Spencer Sanders tore his ACL in that game.

A year removed from a near state-championship run,  the Raiders come into the matchup undefeated at 10-0, District 5-5A champs,  and ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Texas Top 25 Class 5A Poll. Brewer enters the game with a 6-4 record after losing at thriller against Haslet Eaton 38-31.

Here is how both teams matchup.

WHEN FW BREWER HAS THE BALL

A Brewer Bear receiver makes a catch during a matchup against Boswell High School in Fort Worth, Texas. Joseph Nguyen/TexasHSFootball

The 2017 edition of the Brewer Bears has a potent offense led by QB Carson Ingram, responsible for 1,761 and 18 touchdowns this season. During Brewers defeat of Azle on Nov. 3 and clinch of a playoff berth, he went 19 of 23 for 267 yards, four touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown.

His main receiver, 6-foot-3 and 190-pound junior Jahrad Taylor (49 rec, 654 yards, 13.3 YPC) ) caught three passes for a game-high 78 yards and one touchdown. Paired with 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior Jaidyn Cartwright, they are known as “The Twin Towers” and give Ingram playmaking options on the outside.

Slot receiver Curtis Taylor III, a 1,000 rusher as a junior, is also a threat to take it to the house on any play while running back Christian Calton does the dirty work between the tackles, rushing for 834 yards and 13 touchdowns and averaging 5.8 yards a carry.

The Bears offensive line is young, but if they can give Ingram time to throw to his arsenal of receivers and open running lanes for Calton the Bears should keep the game close.

WHEN DENTON RYAN HAS THE BALL

Raider wide receiver Gabriel Douglas. Lauren Landes/TexasHSFootball

Spencers Sanders is the engine that drives the train. Sander is the No. 9 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country and has passed for 2,557 yards and 35 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 10 touchdowns while averaging 6.7 yards per carry. 

Ryan has to big-time receivers in Gabriel Douglas and Christauskie Dove.

Douglas, a Texas Tech commit, leads the team with 1,000 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 15.6 yards a catch. Dove comes into this game with 607 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Raiders also have standout sophomore Emani Bailey — who has rushed for 811 yards 10 touchdowns — toting the rock at running back.

With Denton Ryan fans expecting a potent offense, the Raiders are on a mission in 2017 with unfinished business stemming from its 2016  semifinal loss to Highland Park.

THE PREDICTION

The Brewer Bear defense comes into the matchup led by Marcel Paige,  Kevon White, linebackers  Seth Thompson and Branson Dail, safety Preston Hampton-Kelley, which lead a Bears’ defense that gave up an average of 257.7 yards a game.  Playing in District 6-5A has made the Bears accustomed to seeing top offenses like Aledo and Saginaw Boswell, but Denton Ryan is of a different breed — a juggernaut that should keep the Bears’ at arm’s length.

Final Score: Denton Ryan  34, FW Brewer 14

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