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Football: Braswell, Denton square off in budding rivalry

The final game of the regular season is here for Texas high school football teams, and that means it's rivalry week.

For the longstanding Denton Broncos and a school still in its infancy in Braswell, the rivalry is fierce. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.

"This is a huge rivalry game," Denton coach Billy Miller said. "For a lot of those kids on Braswell's sideline, [Denton] is where they started, so it'll be a big game for them and it'll be a big game for us.

"Our guys are approaching it like it has been a long rivalry even though Braswell has only been a program for a couple of years."

The teams do not have much to play for other than bragging rights considering their playoff hopes were eliminated following losses to Wichita Falls Rider.

"I think it is for sure a rivalry game," Braswell coach Cody Moore said. "I think it's a healthy rivalry that will be good for our kids for years to come. 

"As far as bragging rights go, I can see for some of our players it would be nice to get a win over the school they used to play for, but that is not the focus. It's the last game for both of our teams. I'm sure coach Miller will have them ready." 

Like its game against Rider, Denton likely will not have quarterback Landry Kinne or leading receiver Isaiah Wofford due to injuries. Starting running back Xylohn Posey has been banged up the last few weeks but did have 21 carries in the Rider game. Junior Brooks Bedinger will likely be the starting quarterback. 

"We don't make any excuses for what's happened to us this late in the season," Miller said. "We've definitely been bit by the injury bug, but we've had some time to prepare for this game with the bye."

That is the difference maker prior to kickoff. Denton has had 14 days to prepare for the Bengals, who have found their identity on offense and have a defense playing much better against the run — likely what the Broncos will resort to on offense after passing for 1 yard against Rider.

"[The Broncos] having time is a definite advantage," Moore said. "Not only from a preparation standpoint but from their ability to get those guys they've had injured back. The unknown honestly worries me. I don't know who will be lined up across from us. We're preparing for anyone."

For a young Denton team and a new coach trying to establish a sense of ownership and a winning mentality, Miller says this is the most important game on the schedule. For Braswell, it's another opportunity to garner a second win and use that as a launching pad for Year 3 of the program.

"This game is a way to establish our mentality leading into the offseason and where the direction of this program is heading," Miller said.

Moore says it's the same for his program. 

"Regardless of who we're playing, I think a win to finish out our second season heading into Year 3 would be great from a momentum standpoint," Moore said. "The fact that it's Denton gives our guys a little more incentive." 

What You Need to Know

Matchup: Denton at Braswell
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: C.H. Collins Athletic Complex
What happened last year: Denton won 34-7
Predictions:
Jimmy Isbell -- Braswell 35, Denton 34
Steve Gamel -- Denton 21, Braswell 20
Brady Keane -- Denton 28, Braswell 21
Clay Massey -- Denton 35, Braswell 17