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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Denton Ryan gets first big test of the season

By Jeff Andrews

For the most part, Denton Ryan has breezed to its undefeated record.

Halftime has been an opportunity to prepare backups and review how to run out the clock. Usually Ryan has a three-score lead by that point.

But the going has gotten tougher in the playoffs. Ryan found itself in an unexpected scrum at halftime with El Paso Del Valle last week before pulling away for a 27-7 win.

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That was just a warm-up for Ryan’s next opponent – Waco Midway (12-0), a battle-tested state-title contender which should give Ryan its first serious challenge of the season in the third round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs at 1 p.m. Friday at Cowboys Stadium.

The game features two teams with similar formulas for success: run the ball and play stifling defense.

Led by a front seven filled with FBS prospects Ty Hook, Mario Edwards, Dominique Banks, Jordan Richmond and Alex De La Torre, Ryan has smothered its opponents this year, allowing just 166.3 yards and 11.3 points per game – both lows in the area among 4A teams.

Led by Baylor commit Beau Blackshear, Midway’s defense has been equally impressive, especially against the run. Midway has held its opponent to less than 100 yards rushing eight times this year.

That could make it difficult for Ryan, which prefers to move the chains with its running game while its defense harries the opposing offense.

Against Del Valle, Ryan gave the rock to running back Kaylon Alexander, who ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns, inching him closer to the 1,000-yard mark for the season, although Ryan has used multiple running backs at times this year.

Midway employs a very similar offensive philosophy, running the ball almost 2-to-1 with B.J. Kelly getting most of the load. He ran for 178 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries in Midway’s 50-17 win over Fort Worth Boswell last week.