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Football: Braswell knows it must win out to have a chance at playoffs

Braswell understands the situation it is in: Win out and the Bengals could finish in fourth place in District 5-5A, pushing them into the Class 5A playoffs in the program's second year.

At 1-3 in 5-5A, Braswell would need to win its last two games against Wichita Falls Rider and Denton to reach 3-3. Braswell then would need some help to make the playoffs. Ryan would have to beat Rider in the regular-season finale, and the Bengals would win the tiebreaker over Rider with a head-to-head victory.

Braswell begins the first part of that scenario Thursday when it travels to play Rider at 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

"Last week was a really weird game," Braswell coach Cody Moore said of a 56-0 shutout at the hands of Denison. "I told them the opportunity they have to make a push for a playoff spot. It's on their minds, and we've had a good few days of practice. What we'll need to do to give us a chance is to be more consistent on offense."

The Bengals average 244 yards per game but fell well short of that against the Yellow Jackets, posting 99 total yards.

Part of offensive success lies up front with the offensive line. With the bulk of the Bengals' offensive line being freshmen and sophomores, it's tough to get the right amount of protection needed to test opposing teams downfield.

"We want to be able to take shots downfield like we did against Wichita Falls," Moore said. "With the right calls in protection and the ability to get a body on a body, we can do some special things."

The defense has been able — compared with last season — to stop the run more efficiently. The Bengals will need to get the Rider offense off the field to give their offense more opportunities to test the Raider defense downfield.

Rider uses a duo of running backs and its bruising quarterback to pace the rushing attack. Brandon Bolton leads Rider in rushing with 735 yards on a 4.9 average and 11 touchdowns, followed by Samuel Manuel, who posts an impressive 6.3 average with three scores. Quarterback Jorge Vargas has run for two touchdowns, has a 62 percent completion rate and has a 19-to-1 touchdown-to-interception tally.

"[The Raiders] have a similar offensive line to Denison," Moore said. "They're not as big, but they are quick off the ball. Their quarterback doesn't force anything, and their receivers can make people miss.

"We've got a game plan for 'em, and we'll see if we can make things interesting for everyone in our district heading into the Denton game."

JIMMY ISBELL can be reached at 817-781-0379 and via Twitter at @Jimmy_Isbell12.

What You Need to Know

Matchup: Braswell at Wichita Falls Rider

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Memorial Stadium

What happened last year: Rider won 57-27

Predictions:
Jimmy Isbell — Braswell 42, Rider 35
Steve Gamel — Rider 35, Braswell 14
Brady Keane — Rider 38, Braswell 7
Clay Massey — Rider 45, Braswell 14