Ryan head coach Dave Henigan loves watching his team play in the friendly confines of C.H. Collins Athletic Complex as much as the next guy. And the Raiders have done plenty of that, with eight of their 11 games this season having been played in Denton — including last week’s playoff opener.
But it’s time to win a big game on the road, and the Raiders will be faced with that task Saturday when they face Lubbock Coronado at 3 p.m. in a Class 5A Division I Region I area-round game at Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium in Abilene.
“Our kids have been in a lot of big games and have made a lot of long bus trips. This time of year, you have to travel — particularly if you’re in Region I like we are,” Henigan said. “It’s one of those things that you have to get used to, and I think they’ll be fine. Our kids are excited to get on a charter bus and go on a business trip.”
Even though this is a road game, the Raiders (11-0) have plenty of familiarity with the Mustangs and the venue. This will be the third straight year Ryan plays at Abilene Christian, with all games coming against Coronado (7-4).
Last year, Ryan won 30-0 in the third round. In 2017, they beat Coronado 69-49 in the fourth round.
This year’s Coronado team is not to be taken lightly. Junior quarterback Sawyer Robinson has thrown for 3,689 yards and 42 touchdowns, and has done so while spreading the ball around to big targets. Jon Hernandez (1,153 yards and 12 scores) has caught the lion’s share, but he’s one of five receivers who have caught at least 24 passes. Eli Martinez has caught 51 passes for 810 yards and 10 scores while Cory Ferriera has caught 42 balls for 744 yards and nine scores.
“They’re well-coached, and they have talent all over the field,” Henigan said. “They’re big and the quarterback is a big-time player, so we’re going to have to do a good job of making him uncomfortable. It will be a challenge.”
While Coronado consistently puts up big numbers, Ryan has always managed to slow them down. This year, the Raiders are giving up an average of 9.3 points and 176.3 yards per game.
Offensively, Ryan quarterback Seth Henigan has thrown 30 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Drew Sanders has accounted for 19 touchdowns (11 receiving, 4 passing, 4 rushing). Not only is Billy Bowman Jr. (584 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns) a threat in the passing game, but he’s just a dominant in the return game.
“It’s the third year in a row, so we are familiar with each other,” Henigan said. “It’s a different year, though, so we’re going to have to be ready.”