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Football: Ryan looks to stay perfect against improving Bengals

Ryan, No. 3 in The Associated Press' Class 5A poll, figures to be favored in every District 5-5A game moving forward. Braswell knows it will play the underdog role every week.

But that doesn't make Friday's game at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex any less important.

Ryan (5-0, 1-0 district) is coming off a 42-13 win over crosstown rival Denton and has a chance to entrench itself atop the leaderboard with a win over the Bengals, who are 0-14 dating to their maiden season a year ago and would love to shock the world with a win.

"[Braswell] is better everywhere from a year ago," Ryan coach Dave Henigan said. "You can see it watching the video — a year ago all their games were over by halftime. But this year that's not always the case. It's only a matter of time for them. The reality for us is we don't change much on either side of the ball, so the goal is to keep getting better at what we do every day.

"How we would approach the state semifinals — that's how we will approach Braswell."

Braswell (0-4) is coming off a bye, so Friday is a chance to start district play on the right foot. The Bengals lost last year's meeting 38-7 but enter this game averaging just shy of 14 points. Last year, they averaged 8.9 points through 10 games.

Much of that improvement is because the Bengals had a full offseason, but they're also healthier — especially at quarterback. Five players attempted at least one pass last year, as opposed to this year, when sophomore Greyson Thompson and junior Palmer Campbell have swapped time.

Braswell coach Cody Moore said Thompson is the Bengals' starter for the long haul. Thompson has thrown for 348 yards and three touchdowns. He said there won't be as much rotation between the two in district, but if needed, Campbell — who is completing 66.7 percent of his passes and has rushed for 104 yards and a score — is capable of leading the offense.

"We are sustaining drives, but where we are missing being able to average 21 or 24 points is with the big-play opportunity," Moore said. "We've had plays where the protection is good and we run the right route, but then we can't connect on the pass and catch.

"At the same time, it's encouraging to have those opportunities. We didn't last year."

Thompson agreed.

"We just need to stay ahead of the chains and not shoot ourselves in the foot," he said. "It's like Coach says — this is a great opportunity to play a great team and continue to get better."

The problem is keeping up on the scoreboard against a Ryan team that is averaging just shy of 44 points and 440 yards. Oklahoma State commit Spencer Sanders entered the week third among Dallas-Fort Worth 5A quarterbacks with 1,378 yards and 17 touchdowns. Gabriel Douglas, a Texas Tech pledge, leads all receivers with 640 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Ryan has held its last four opponents to 22 points or less. But the Raiders won't look past any opponents moving forward as they look to claim their third straight district title.

"We can't take any team lightly," Ryan junior defensive back TJ Walker said. "Our mentality is that we play every game like it's our last. This game is just like any other week."

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.

What You Need to Know

Matchup: Ryan vs. Braswell

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: C.H. Collins Athletic Complex

What happened last year: Ryan won 38-7

Predictions:

Steve Gamel -- Ryan 40, Braswell 10

Jimmy Isbell -- Ryan 49, Braswell 10

Brady Keane -- Ryan 49, Braswell 7

Clay Massey -- Ryan 67, Braswell 10