High School Football

State-ranked Denton Ryan powers past Birdville to capture another unbeaten district title

Denton Ryan running back Emani Bailey has a nice hole to run against Birdville during the first half, Thursday night, November 7, 2019 played at Birdville Fine Arts/Athletics Complex in North Richland Hills, TX.
Denton Ryan running back Emani Bailey has a nice hole to run against Birdville during the first half, Thursday night, November 7, 2019 played at Birdville Fine Arts/Athletics Complex in North Richland Hills, TX. Special to the Star-Telegram

For the second straight season, it was a state-ranked Denton Ryan team taking on a hungry Birdville squad to close out the regular season with the District 4-5A Division 1 championship at stake.

Ryan won 49-28 in Week 11 last season.

Different year, same result.

The Raiders, ranked No. 3 in the 5A Division 1 state rankings, complete their fifth straight undefeated district championship after beating the Hawks, 41-14 on Thursday at Birdville FA/AC.

It was Ryan’s 50th straight regular-season victory.

Ryan (10-0, 7-0) will open the playoffs at home, 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 at C.H. Collins Stadium. The Raiders will be watching a pair of Friday night games, Granbury vs. Saginaw and Crowley vs. Boswell, for their bi-district opponent. They play Granbury if Saginaw wins; Saginaw if Granbury wins and Boswell loses, and Boswell if Boswell wins and Saginaw loses.

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Birdville running back Laderrious Mixon (9) gets dragged down by Denton Ryan defensive tackle Jay Sheppard (8) during the first half, Thursday night, November 7, 2019 played at Birdville Fine Arts/Athletics Complex in North Richland Hills, TX. Steve Nurenberg Special to the Star-Telegram

Birdville (7-3, 6-1) is the No. 2 seed and will host Saginaw or Granbury.

The Hawks found themselves down early and never recovered as Ryan took its open possession 78 yards on six plays, capped off by a shovel pass between two of the top players in the area.

Drew Sanders, a 5-star Alabama commit, pitched it to Texas commit Billy Bowman Jr. for a 5-yard touchdown with 9:19 left in the opening quarter.

Ryan defensive back Austin Jordan picked off one of two Birdville passes on the ensuing drive and two plays later Sanders caught a 40-yard TD pass from quarterback Seth Henigan.

The Raiders, who also beat Birdville 28-0 in the last year’s playoffs, scored their third TD of the first quarter when Emani Bailey caught a screen pass and scored 16-yards out as time expired.

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Denton Ryan wide receiver Drew Sanders (16) celebrates after his 40 yard touchdown reception against Birdville during the first half, Thursday night, November 7, 2019 played at Birdville Fine Arts/Athletics Complex in North Richland Hills, TX. Steve Nurenberg Special to the Star-Telegram

Jordan registered his second interception on the next drive and after Ryan’s Wesley Schenck recovered a muffed punt, Henigan and Texas commit Ja’Tavion Sanders connected on a 12-yard TD late in the second quarter.

Ryan, which led 28-0 at intermission, scored on the first play of the third when Bailey rumbled in from 27 yards. The Raiders also scored on their next drive on Henigan’s 5-yard TD pass to Drew Sanders that made it 41-0 midway through the period.

The Hawks’ only scores came on a 10-yard run from Demarye Walker and a 71-yard blocked field goal return from Hosea Armstrong, who picked up the ball after Bryson Lightfoot swatted the Ryan attempt.

Ryan, which has beaten Birdville four times in the past three seasons, outgained the Hawks 409-166. Henigan completed 16 of 23 passes for 256 yards and four TDs. The Sanders duo combined for nine catches, 141 yards and two scores.

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.
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