We have reached the final week of the regular season and several Denton-area teams already have punched their tickets to the postseason.
In all, eight teams have guaranteed themselves a spot, including Ryan, Guyer, Argyle, Lake Dallas, Sanger, Liberty Christian, Aubrey and Pilot Point. If my calculations are correct, Ponder and Krum could join that mix with wins this week. That leaves just Denton, Braswell and Calvary as the only programs guaranteed to miss out this year. Not too shabby for the Denton area as a whole.
Below are my thoughts on five games from last week.
Ryan clinched the top seed in Class 5A Division I, and Friday's win guaranteed the Raiders at least a share of the District 5-5A title. They can win their third straight outright crown against Wichita Falls Rider. But beyond all that, Friday's win proved Ryan's offense is more balanced than many opponents believed, and they're clicking at just the right time. With their passing game struggling early against Denison, the Raiders turned to Emani Bailey and watched as the sophomore rushed for 228 yards and two scores. And for good measure, the defense forced three turnovers while the passing game didn't do bad with 201 yards and three touchdowns. This is a dangerous team.
Guyer is in the playoffs and will definitely go the Division II route in Class 6A. And when the Wildcats get there, they may have more of a passing game than we originally thought. Friday's win featured a solid connection between quarterback Luke Stillwell and speedy wide receiver Seth Meador, who caught six balls for 121 yards while scoring twice on catches of 68 and 19 yards. Not bad for a run-heavy offense. If the Wildcats can get this aerial assault going — they're still only averaging roughly 84 passing yards per game — then we could be looking at a deep run.
Argyle's offense took a massive gut punch last week with the loss of quarterback Jon Copeland, but I'm not buying into any notion that this team is no longer a contender for the Class 4A Division I title. Copeland or no Copeland, Argyle came into this season with options at quarterback, which is more than what most teams can say about their own depth. New quarterback Hayden Clearman has weapons all over the place with two dynamic running backs and a group of receivers that can score from anywhere. Defensively, the Eagles held a really good Hirschi team to 13 points in the second half. Bottom line, the Eagles will still be in the mix come mid-December.
What a massive win. Remember, this is a Lake Dallas team that has missed the playoffs only twice in the last 12 years and is not far removed from the 2015 state semifinals. Clearly the Falcons are hitting their stride at just the right time of year and have gone from being a team that simply wanted to make the playoffs to a team that is near the top of the District 14-5A leaderboard. Lake Dallas is locked into the 5A Division II bracket and will face Frisco Reedy in the first round regardless of what happens this week.
After missing the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, Pilot Point is on its way to the Class 3A playoffs after nabbing a win the Bearcats absolutely had to have. Head coach Danny David has his team on the upswing and achieved the first goal by extending their season. That means anything is possible moving forward. A key to the Bearcats' success on Friday was Quincy Kemp, who rushed for 121 yards and scored five times. We see you, Quincy.
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.