The UIL Football State Championships are returning to AT&T Stadium on Friday, January 15th. Don’t miss Denton Ryan High School take on Cedar Park High School at 7:00 pm.
What: UIL 5A Division 1 football championship
Teams: Ryan (Denton) (14-0) vs. Cedar Park (14-0)
Date: Friday, Jan. 15 | Time: 7 p.m. CT
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TV: FOX Sports Southwest FSSW Plus2 (in state only) | Live Stream: FoxSportsGo (in-state only) | Audio: Texanlive.com
If college recruiters were to pick the winner in the Texas 5A Division 1 high school football championship game between the Ryan (Denton) Raiders and Cedar Park Timberwolves, it might be pretty one-sided.
The Raiders are loaded, with eight top 247Sports recruits splashed between three classes. They include two of the top seven seniors in Texas, both listed as athletes in five-star Texas signee Ja’Tavion Sanders (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and Oklahoma signee Billy Bowman (5-11, 175).
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves don’t boast a single player on the 247Sports recruiting list. Yet, like Ryan, Cedar Park is 14-0 and by all indications well equipped to take Ryan down to the wire.
The Timberwolves certainly offer the offensive firepower to win, having averaged 53 points in five playoff games. They averaged a whopping 462 yards per game in their first 13 games, led by quarterback Ryder Hernandez, who threw for 4,240 yards and 58 touchdowns in that span.
He has great weapons in 1,000-yard-plus receivers Josh Cameron, Gunnar Abseck, and Jack Hester, who’ve combined for 207 receptions, 3,160 yards, and 44 touchdowns, almost evenly divided. It’s no wonder why Cedar Park averages 50 points per game.
Scoring against Ryan won’t be easy. The Raiders allowed less than 10 points in three of their five playoff wins, though they gave up five touchdowns in a 49-35 semifinal win over Mansfield. They held three high-scoring offenses to just 22 points combined thanks largely to the play of defensive end Michael Gee (6-1, 191), linebacker DJ Arkansas, a Rice signee, and two of the state’s top juniors, cornerback Austin Jordan and defensive tackle Bear Alexander (6-3, 325).
Clearly, it’s the massive all-around skills of Sanders and Bowman, who have combined for 139 catches, 2,223 receiving yards, and 29 touchdowns that can not be matched by Cedar Hill.
Add in the skills of quarterback Seth Henigan (3,558 yards passing, 38 touchdowns), a Memphis signee, and it’s no wonder why the Raiders are No. 9 in the MaxPreps Top 25.
Both teams have won two state titles, most recently for Cedar Park in 2012 and 2015. Ryan, which lost 28-22 to Shadow Creek (Pearland) in last year’s state 5A-1 title game, won back-to-back titles starting in 2001. The two teams haven’t played each other during the MaxPreps era, dating to 2004.