Raiders dominate district play, move into playoff territory

Raiders+dominate+district+play%2C+move+into+playoff+territory

Kaleigh Mazy, RHS Yearbook Staff

Raiders dominate district play, move into playoff territory

The two-time winner of the 5A Division 1 state championship, the tenth ranked team in the nation, and second in the state (first in their division) has once again completed a strong district season, playing at a consistently high level and producing impressive stats, even despite the setbacks caused by the coronavirus. 

In the regular season, the varsity football team went 7-0, finishing first in district, and scoring no less than 35 points per game. While holding every opponent to under 30 points, including their toughest district competition, Frisco Lone Star, a fellow top 50 ranked team in the state, the Raiders held on to their namesake as district champions. 

After Friday’s win against Lone Star, the Raiders tallied up their 59th regular-season winning streak, along with their sixth consecutive district title. So it’s safe to say that the varsity boys  have once again dominated the district. 

The Raiders also won both of their pre-season games, beating the eighth ranked team in the state, Arlington’s Martin High School, 47-24, an impressive result against a team of that caliber. Then, the boys showed out at  this year’s Crosstown Showdown rivalry by narrowly beating Guyer, the 11th ranked 6A team in the state, 23-20. 

These victories give the Raiders a 9-0 record this year in total. However, that might not even be the most impressive stat the team has produced this year. 

They have worked incredibly hard to perfect every part of their game, and as a result, so far this season, they are surpassing the national averages in both receiving and rushing yards, sacks, and total touchdowns. These statistics however, don’t come without the talent and effort of some of our star players.

Leading players on the defense include sophomore Anthony Hill Jr. who had the highest number of total tackles at 43, which makes up over 10% of the entire defense’s total tackles this season, as well as senior DJ Arkansas and junior Michael Gee, who each had over 30 total tackles. 

Other notable defensive players include senior Ty Marsh, senior Max Marshall, junior Mason Davis, and sophomore Kaden Kelly. Each of these players had over 20 total tackles and over 4 tackles per game on average. The defense as a whole had 391 total tackles, 72 of those being tackles for a loss, and 43 tackles per game on average.

The offense altogether scored an incredible 294 points over the season, and had 49 total touchdowns. The offense was led by star quarterback Seth Henigan who racked up 139 total completions, each one with an average of nearly 17 yards. In total, Henigan had 2,324 passing yards, and averaged about 258 passing yards per game. He also rushed for almost 200 yards in total, and scored two rushing touchdowns. These numbers earned him an incredible quarterback rating of 138.7. 

The star running back this season who was responsible for nearly 35% of total rushing yards for the team is Ke’ori Hicks. Hicks averaged about 80 yards per game, ran for 641 total yards, and got six touchdowns. 

Other notable rushers include sophomore Kalib Hicks and senior John Hutchinson, who each ran for over 200 total yards, as well as seniors Brayden Marion, Billy Bowman Jr., and sophomore Khalon Davis, each racking up over 100 rushing yards this season. 

Leading receivers include Bowman, seniors Ja’tavion Sanders, Keagan Cunningham, and sophomore Jordyn Bailey. Bowman and Sanders each had over 30 receptions (Bowman 46, Sanders 35), with Bowman receiving for a total of 736 yards, and Sanders receiving for 658. Bailey and Cunningham also received for 412 yards and 239 yards respectively.

Now, after a decisively winning first in district, the Raiders are looking to the 5A division one playoffs. They are the number one seed, made clear by a 9-0 record for the year so far. The number two seed is Frisco Lone Star, who they beat on Dec. 4 in their last game of the district season with a final score of 35-21. 

Last week, they had a neutral playoff game against the fourth seed, Bryan Adams High School, whose district record this season was only 5-4, but has shown to be much stronger than previous years. As anticipated, the Raiders dominated in this match up, scoring a whopping 59 points by halftime, ending the game 69-6.  

Many players are especially motivated this year. Many of the Raiders’ star players are seniors, meaning, to them, this year is their last chance to earn the state championship that slipped through their fingers last year. 

During an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Billy Bowman was asked how motivated he was to win state this year after coming so close last year, he stated that, “It has motivated me a lot. We had a good group last year that were juniors, my class. I think we’ll be right on track to get back there, but have a different result this time.”

In another interview by the Denton Record Chronicle, senior quarterback Seth Henigan was asked about their win against Frisco Lone Star, and he said that, “It’s a great feeling, but at the end of the day we are here to win a ring – not trophies.”

Clearly the players have their focus set on finally taking another state championship, and with the tenacity and drive that they’ve been playing with so far, that is a very real possibility as long as they make sure to stay determined and not let the ego of their winning streaks get the best of them.

The game tomorrow night, versus College Station High School will be another important step in their trek to the state championship. The Raiders play the Cougars for the area championship at 7 p.m. at the Waco ISD Stadium. Ticket information can be found at  https://www.wacoisd.org/Page/12176.