Denton Ryan not scared by larger competition in 5A playoffs

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by TED MADDEN

WFAA Sports

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 10:35 PM

DENTON -- It's Thanksgiving week, and the same bunch of high school football teams are still playing: Southlake Carroll, Trinity, Skyline, Aledo, and many more.

Denton Ryan is playing too, but it's been far from a normal year. They moved up to class 5A, where they are the seventh-smallest school in the state.

"Kids are a lot bigger in 5A," said Ryan quarterback Mitchell Bridges. "They hit a lot harder and a lot faster than I expected coming into 5A."

Head coach Joey Florence admits this team isn't as talented as the ones he's had in the past, which is why they adopted a new slogan.

"Our slogan this year, [which] our kids got together, it's 'others before self,'" Florence said. "We got it from the bible, Phillipians 2:3. And of all the teams that I've coached, they're truly playing as a team, and that's one of the reasons we're still playing right now."

One of the players who best exemplifies what Ryan is trying to do this year is wide receiver Kevin Ray Jr. He always wanted to be a quarterback but never got his chance -- until the three above him on the depth chart were injured.

In the Raiders' game against Lewisville, Ray took over in the second half, trailing 21-14. He completed five-of-eight passes for 63 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. Ryan outscored Lewisville 14-3 to win the game 28-24. Without that win, Ryan doesn't make the playoffs.

"I just finally got my chance to help the team out, do what I wanted to do -- play quarterback -- help the team out," said Ray, who was the fourth quarterback only because he's so valuable as a wide receiver. "I was pretty happy. It was a pretty great experience."

"Kevin Ray will always be -- I'll think of him fondly because he's what high school football is all about," Florence said. "[Texas A&M] has Johnny Football; he's Kevin Football, and we love him."

The next goal for Kevin Football and the Raiders is to play into December, again.

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com
Twitter @tedmadden

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