Ryan made quick work of its district opponents last year, winning by an average margin of slightly more than 35 points per game.
But coach Dave Henigan still isn’t convinced the road to the playoffs will be as easy this season.
The Raiders (3-1, 2-0 District 5-5A Division I) head into Thursday’s home game against high-scoring Frisco Wakeland embroiled in a three-team tie for first place with the Wolverines (3-0, 2-0) and Frisco Lone Star (3-1, 2-0).
Behind that, Frisco Reedy and The Colony have one loss each. Ryan beat all of those teams a year ago, but Henigan says each opponent has improved tremendously. Proof of that is Wakeland, which has outscored its first three opponents 160-22.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
“Frisco Independence was beating Lone Star at halftime last week. Reedy played us tough already, and Wakeland played us really tough last year — so I’m going to assume this will be a competitive game again,” Henigan said. “It’s different from some of the districts we’ve been in before. The Frisco schools have some really good athletes.
“We have to come out ready to play well.”
Ryan looked like its typical self last week in a 55-28 win over Denton. The Raiders returned two interceptions for touchdowns and rolled up 370 yards of total offense while jumping out to a 41-point halftime lead. Khalon Davis attempted only seven passes but was extremely efficient while throwing for 161 yards and two touchdowns. It was the most passing yards in a single game Ryan has had through its first four games.
Kalib Hicks added 56 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
But there’s no denying Wakeland is a considerably bigger threat than winless Denton.
The Wolverines are coming off a 49-13 win over The Colony. The week before, they beat Frisco Centennial 56-2. Running back Jared White enters Thursday with 500 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, putting him just 23 yards behind Hicks and his seven scores.
Sophomore quarterback Brennan Myer is new under center this year but has quickly proven himself while throwing for 598 yards and nine touchdowns. Myer is completing 79% of his passes, the majority of which have gone to the trio of Tripp Riordan, Ashdyn Kahouch and Davion Woolen.
Six different receivers have caught a touchdown pass this season for Wakeland.
“They’ve got a lot back. They’re very good,” Henigan said. “They’re well-coached and play very hard. And they always seem to be in the right places. Defensively, they’re big, good-looking kids. On top of that, they’re undefeated. You don’t get to this point in the season without a loss unless you are very good.
“This is obviously one of the better teams in the district.”
Ryan is still the standard-bearer. The Raiders have won six straight district championships and have not lost a district game since the 2014 regular-season finale. Defensively, the Raiders have returned four interceptions for touchdowns this season and are only surrendering 233.75 yards and 14.75 points per game.
“We just need to focus on us and finding ways to improve every week,” Henigan said. “None of them are easy.”