Denton Ryan and Wichita Falls Rider have developed a healthy dislike for each other over the years.
Since Ryan dropped back down to Class 4A in 2006, its annual bout with Rider usually decides the district champion.
Their next game will mean much more as the Class 4A Division I Region I title is on the line when the two meet at 2 p.m. Saturday at Denton’s C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
Ryan (13-0) has owned the rivalry of late. It crushed a rebuilding Rider team in 2009, 52-7. Rider (9-4) didn’t fare much better against Ryan this season, either -- losing 35-14. Like all of Ryan’s 2010 opponents, Rider couldn’t get anything going on offense. Even the 14 points came in the fourth quarter against Ryan's backups.
Rider has found its game since that loss, winning six games in a row while averaging 38 points during that span. The Raiders' defense stymied a potent Birdville team in a 24-10 win last week.
But Rider will have to play its best game of the season to generate consistent offense vs. Ryan, whose defense has returned to the level of quality not seen at the school since its state title days in the early 2000s.
Ryan gives up just 165.9 yards per game this season. Since it began District 4-4A play, Ryan has given up 9.4 points per game.
Its best performance of the year may have come last week against Waco Midway. Ryan held 1,700-yard rusher B.J. Kelly to 35 yards. And outside of two big passing plays in the second quarter -- one coming on a miraculous catch and run -- Ryan’s defense was impenetrable in a 19-10 win.
Not only that, but Ryan's defense scored the deciding points in the game while its offense struggled against Midway.
A third-quarter safety and a 65-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Jonny Paramore in the fourth quarter proved the difference for Ryan.