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Guyer defensive back Deuce Harmon (2) returns a kick and avoids being tackled by Ryan defensive end Jaden Shands (34) Friday at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton.

Before Guyer made its run to the Class 6A Division II title game last season, the Wildcats suffered a setback.

On its own home turf at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, Guyer blew a 14-0 lead to Southlake Carroll, losing 46-34. But rather than get discouraged, the Wildcats used the loss as fuel, rattling off 10 straight wins to get to within one step of claiming a championship.

Nearly a year later, Guyer is hoping that history repeats itself.

After narrowly falling to cross-town rival Ryan 23-20 last week, the Wildcats are eager for the opportunity to bounce back.

And Guyer will get that chance in short order, as the Wildcats host Mansfield Lake Ridge at 7 p.m. Thursday at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.

“The kids are very resilient,” Guyer coach Rodney Webb said. “The guys around here have told me that’s one of the real redeeming qualities of the kids in our program. And I’ve found that to be the case. They bounce right back.

“I always tell the kids I don’t want them to dwell on [a loss], but at the same time, if it doesn’t bother you to lose, then there’s something wrong. That feeling you have after a bitter loss, you don’t want to have that feeling. Our motivation has got to be avoid having that feeling again.”

For Guyer to get turned around, it will need to clean up several areas on the offensive side of the ball.

The Wildcats struggled mightily against Ryan last week, managing just 223 total yards and seven first downs. Guyer was behind the chains virtually all game and averaged just 0.6 yards on first down.

Those issues translated into the Wildcats converting just 3 of their 12 third down attempts. And, more importantly, it forced Guyer to abandon its passing game.

Quarterback Eli Stowers attempted just 10 passes and was under constant duress, as the Wildcats were forced to lean almost exclusively on its rushing attack.

“Everyone is asking, ‘Well, why didn’t you throw the ball?’” Webb said. “Well, let me tell you. We got a six-man box the whole game. They’re two-on-one to the single [receiver] side and three-on-two to the two-receiver side. In our offense, that equals run the ball. And we couldn’t run the ball against a six-man box.”

Guyer’s offense will be tasked with getting back on track against a Lake Ridge team that has yet to win a game. The Eagles are 0-2 and got routed by Mansfield Summit 33-6 last week.

“[Lake Ridge] is 0-2 and has played two teams that could match them athletically,” Webb said. “They came out on the short end of the stick, but it’s the old cornered dog deal. You say, ‘Well, are they going to roll over, or are they going to come out like their life depends on it?’ We’re going to assume they come out fighting.

“We certainly have a lot of opportunities to fix things. We have to take advantage of it.”

The Wildcats will have to do so without star offensive lineman Gabe Blair.

The senior, who is one of the most highly touted offensive lineman in the area, has missed the first two games of the season with an ankle injury.

But Webb — and every other person inside Guyer’s locker room — is not one for making excuses.

He is adamant that if the Wildcats have a good week of practice, they will set themselves up to get back in the win column.

“The key is for us to play a cleaner game. When I say that, it’s in every phase,” Webb said. “If we’re prepared this week, we’re going to execute better.”

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

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