Ryan running back Emani Bailey (9) carries the ball into the end zone and scores a touchdown the Heritage defense at the Ford Center at the Star, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Frisco, Texas.

FRISCO — When Emani Bailey took over as Ryan’s starting running back for Tyreke Davis in 2017, the then-sophomore had big shoes to fill.

Davis, who is now at UNT, played both ways for the Raiders and was dynamic in the backfield. But there was never a drop off when Bailey assumed the role.

Instead, Bailey effortlessly stepped in and has never looked back.

The senior played in his 44th consecutive game on Saturday against Colleyville Heritage, putting on another dazzling display the Ryan faithful have grown accustomed to over the past three years. Bailey accounted for 331 total yards and four touchdowns, repeatedly gashing the Panthers’ defense.

Bailey, though, isn’t interested in the numbers. His only focus is on the team.

“I don’t ever want to let my team down,” Bailey said. “I’m a team player. I just want to be a part of something great and help [us] win.”

Over the past three years, Bailey has done just that.

Since 2017, Ryan is 42-2. With the Raiders’ 56-10 win on Saturday, Ryan advanced to the state semifinal for the fourth straight year.

And it’s hard to deny Bailey is among a host of reasons why.

In three seasons as the starter, Bailey has run for 4,026 yards and 51 touchdowns, averaging 91.5 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game.

“He’s a workhorse,” Ryan quarterback Seth Henigan said. “He’s like the heart of the team. He does everything right. Throughout the past three years he’s started, he’s blocked for us to get our passing game going when we needed that, and tonight he had the opportunity to run wild. And he did just that.”

Bailey scored on runs of 39, 48 and 22 yards, but his most impressive moment came on a 48-yard catch-and-run. Henigan avoided a rush and found Bailey over the middle, who pirouetted around defenders and broke tackles en route to the end zone.

It was just another jaw-dropping highlight for the Louisiana-Lafayette commit, who continues to leave his mark on a storied Ryan program.

“It’s huge, both from a running the ball standpoint and a leadership standpoint,” Ryan coach Dave Henigan said of Bailey’s durability and play-making ability. “He’s a guy that when you’re making plays like that, others follow suit. That certainly, I think, was the case today.”

REECE WADDELL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @ReeceWaddell15.

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