Football: Guyer, Rider favored as 5-4A play begins

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Many districts stake claim to being the toughest in Texas in their respective classification, and District 5-4A is definitely one of them.

The district features the defending Class 4A Division I state champion, a Division II state semifinalist, a young upstart squad and a new program looking to get back to the postseason after missing out via a tiebreaker last year.

“We’re all gunning for that top spot,” said Wichita Falls Rider coach Jim Garfield, whose only defeat in district play last year was to Guyer. “I’ve said this before, but I think this is the best 4A district in the state of Texas. You have to have your ‘A’ game every Thursday and Friday night. Guyer is the favorite, most definitely.”

The Wildcats returned 12 starters from a team that reeled off 14 straight wins en route to the 4A Division I title last year and had just one close call in district play — a 21-10 win over Rider — to claim their first outright district championship.

Guyer coach John Walsh said he knows his team is the favorite, and that he and his players relish that role.

“That works to our advantage,” Walsh said. “We know people want to beat us. We know they want to look at the paper and see ‘Lake Dallas beats the Guyer Wildcats,’ and that adds to our motivation and our fire. We talk about it weekly. We tell them we’re supposed to win but this is what happens if you don’t take care of business.”

There are plenty of teams fighting for the final two playoff spots in the district, behind perceived favorites Guyer and Rider.

One of those is a youthful Lake Dallas squad that has surprised some people while jumping out to a 3-0 record through nondistrict play, including an impressive overtime win over Frisco Centennial.

The Falcons are having success with a bevy of sophomores seeing significant playing time, including quarterback Dagan Haehn and four other offensive starters.

“Young [age] is sometimes ignorant of the situation, and that can sometimes help,” Lake Dallas coach Michael Young said. “They just seem to go out and have fun, and I don’t know if they feel the pressure of the situation. ... We as coaches know how big this [district-opening] Denton game is, and we know if we don’t get out with a win it can hurt us. And these kids don’t see that; they just look at the team in front of them.”

Young said the key to the district season will be who plays the most mistake-free football, maybe with one exception.

“I think it’s going to be who’s most consistent each week,” Young said. “Guyer can afford to have a slip-up. They can still beat people if they don’t play well. For the rest of us, it’s going to come down to who plays the best on a weekly basis. You can’t have sloppy games in this district or you’ll get beat.”

A possible wild card in the district could be Denton (2-1), as the Broncos have scored 114 points in their last two games behind quarterback Cy Ward and his gaudy 81.6 completion percentage.

“Our goal is to qualify for the playoffs,” Denton coach Kevin Atkinson said last week. “I think they realize that we have a chance to make some noise in this district. As a coach, I would like to not have a bye week. I like going when I’m hot and we were going pretty good, so there is some concern when you have a week off if we can get back in our rhythm [against Lake Dallas].”

Last season, Guyer outscored its district opponents 365-73 — better than 52 points of offense per game. Walsh said he and his staff had to find ways to keep players interested at times.

“We try to make every game a rivalry,” Walsh said. “Playing Lake Dallas, there’s no question that’s a rivalry. Denton High, we’ll get up for that. Our kids don’t even know where [Friday’s opponent] Azle is. We’ll have to show them on a map. We find things as a staff to make it important to them and make it a rivalry.”

But at the same time, Walsh said he knows there are quality teams in the district — ones that will be gunning for his every week.

“Just looking at the papers and box scores and hearing things here and there, I think [Trophy Club] Byron Nelson is running the ball really well up front and [Lake Dallas] has got a good, young quarterback and some playmakers that can beat you any given night. I’ve seen Azle, too. I think those three and us and Rider are in a dogfight to get in the playoffs.”

ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.

District 5-4A

 

Dist.

Ov

 

W

L

W

L

PF

PG

Fort Worth Brewer

0

0

3

0

127

31

Lake Dallas

0

0

3

0

133

101

Trophy Club Nelson

0

0

3

0

101

26

Azle

0

0

2

1

110

82

Denton

0

0

2

1

137

48

Wichita Falls Rider

0

0

2

1

94

122

Guyer

0

0

1

2

63

57

Wichita Falls

0

0

1

2

37

62

Friday’s Games

Lake Dallas at Denton, 7 p.m.

Guyer at Azle, 7 p.m.

Wichita Falls at Fort Worth Brewer, 7 p.m.

Wichita Falls Rider at Trophy Club Nelson, 7 p.m.


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