After watching Ryan cruise through its playoff opener last week, Ryan coach Dave Henigan wouldn’t be surprised if the casual fan has already pegged the Raiders’ second-round game Saturday against Magnolia West as another easy win.
But Henigan and company aren’t interested in looking past anyone, especially a Region II slate that includes Frisco Lone Star, College Station, Longview, Lancaster and Highland Park. All five of those teams, along with No. 1 Ryan, are either currently state-ranked or were at one point this season. Magnolia West is unranked, but at 10-1, Henigan says the Mustangs could easily shock the state if the Raiders don’t bring their A game.
That Class 5A Division I area-round game is slated for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Waco ISD Stadium.
“Yes, I think some do [think that],” he said. “And that’s a mistake. In the second round, you have a 10-1 team facing another 10-1 team, and then there are Top-5 teams in Lone Star and College Station facing off.
“There’s just no weeks off, and that’s the case this week. It’s going to take everything we’ve got to win.”
Admittedly, Ryan’s playoff road is a tad more palatable given its 7-6 win over Lone Star two weeks ago to secure the top seed. The win helped the Raiders avoid Longview or No. 10 Lancaster until the third round if they keep winning. Ryan also avoids the possibility of facing No. 5 Lone Star, No. 2 College Station or No. 3 Highland Park until Round 4.
Meanwhile, Lone Star would have to make it through a wild gauntlet of games to set up a rematch with Ryan in Round 4.
But for his team to remain in that conversation, Henigan is aware that his team has to beat Magnolia West.
“You don’t get to 10-1 unless you’re really good, and they’re good,” Henigan said. “They are big, physical, and just a really good football team. They run a bunch of formations; the QB is good, and the two running backs are really good. Defensively, College Station is really the only one that has scored consistently against them.”
The Mustangs’ lone loss was two weeks ago to College Station (41-21). Even with that one loss, they’re averaging 37.5 points per game under former Sweetwater coach Ben McGehee and own a 27-14 win over Class 6A Temple from Week 2.
In the first round of the playoffs, Magnolia West walloped Tyler 56-14. Quarterback Brock Dalton accounted for five touchdowns, including two rushing. But the big players were the running back duo of Hunter Bilbo and Kai Aroca-Disdier. Bilbo caught two touchdown passes in that game and finished with 125 total yards.
Aroca-Disdier rushed for 154 yards and a score.
Through 11 games, Bilbo leads the team with 1,466 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and Aroca-Disdier isn’t far behind with 906 yards and nine touchdowns. Dalton has thrown for 1,442 yards and 18 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
That trio sets up an intriguing matchup considering Ryan is among the best in the state at stopping the run (91.5 rushing yards allowed per game). The Raiders are also No. 3 among Dallas-Fort Worth Class 5A teams in scoring defense (10.3 points against per game).
Offensively, Ryan rested running back Kalib Hicks last week due to a minor injury. Henigan said he is expected to be in the lineup against Magnolia West. Coming into the playoffs, Hicks has 1,176 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Ryan is riding a nine-game winning streak and is coming off a 49-14 win over Dallas W.T. White. Quarterback Khalon Davis completed 12 of his 17 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Antonio Thomas rushed for 63 yards and added two catches for 29 yards and a touchdown. Jordyn Bailey added five catches for 64 yards and two scores.
“We’re focused on doing what we need to do to be better,” Henigan said. “We’re going to hopefully play good defense against a team like Magnolia West. We’re going to need to.”