- Class 4A DIV. II State Quarters
- Who: Rider (11-2) vs. Frenship (12-1)
- Where: 2 p.m. Memorial Stadium
- Time: 2 p.m. Tickets: $4 (students), $8 (adults) at Rider; $10 at gate
- Radio: KOLI 94.9-FM
To break new ground, the Rider Raiders must only protect the familiar feel of their home turf today at Memorial Stadium.
The Raiders, 0-5 in fourth-round playoff games, all at neutral sites, are shooting to advance to the fifth round for the very first time when they take on Wolfforth Frenship at 2 p.m. in the Class 4A Division II Region I championship.
Rider is undefeated on Joe Golding Field this season, beating Amarillo, Byron Nelson, Azle, Denton, Wichita Falls High School and Fort Worth Southwest.
Frenship's only loss of the year came at Amarillo on Sept. 21. And the Tigers were one of the five teams in the past that kept Rider from making history as they beat the Raiders 20-17 in the 2006 Region I-4A final.
"It's two good programs that are going to be knocking heads," Rider coach Jim Garfield said.
A lot of the focus has been on Rider's run defense against the Tigers' power run game with tailback D'Maujeric Tucker (2,637 yards, 32 touchdowns).
But the Rider offense plans to show up as well. The Raiders scored a school playoff-record 64 points last week and have averaged 45.6 points in a five-game win streak that began after a loss to Denton Guyer, which is playing for the Region I-4A D-I title.
Junior quarterback Chase London has started the three playoff games and has shown that the Raiders can maintain a balanced attack with him taking the snaps. He is 33 of 59 for 534 yards and five touchdown passes in the playoffs.
"We're trying to make history here at Rider and get past the fourth round," London said. "We're just looking to be 1-0 at the end of the week."
And running backs Domanic Thrasher (1,325 yards, 22 touchdowns) and Carlos Fleeks (603 yards, 10 TDs) have made big plays once the line springs them into the secondary.
"The offense is really clicking," London said. "The offensive line is blocking great. And Domanic did a great job running through the holes last week.
"I'm really confident in the offense."
His coach has faith in him, too.
"I feel very confident with Chase, he has handled all the pressure thrown on him very well," Garfield said. "He's out from under J.T.'s shadow and is making a name for himself. The kids are believing in him. And he's a quiet, humble kid."
A week ago, Waco had more success in the air, throwing for 306 yards and three touchdowns. But it rushed for just 18 yards against Frenship.
The plan had always been to get the receivers more involved early in the year when J.T. Barrett (knee injury) was at the controls. That was when London's roles included the Oklahoma "Belldozer" package at the goal line and also as a blocking back.
There was obviously a feeling-out process when the Raiders had to go to Plan B.
"It's different from I thought, but I can tell the game's getting slower for me," London said.
And London's spirals have the receivers smiling these days, and the quarterback is excited about the weapons. And they're treating him like a quarterback with constant reports about "being wide open."
"They talk to me; they're always open, especially Brylan (McCoy)," he added.
McCoy has caught touchdowns in consecutive games and leads the club with 413 receiving yards. Davon Allison is next with 399 yards. John Hatch has the most receptions with 26. Josh Price is the other 20-catch club member and he scored last week.
"Brylan can catch the ball, and I can throw it up to him at any time and know he'll catch the ball," London said. "Davon is a speedy receiver. He can catch any ball; he's my go-to guy. Hatch has probably the best hands on the team. He has good footwork and knows how to get open. We get the ball to (Price) in the open field, and he can make plays. JP is fast."
Garfield said Frenhip is not only big up front but has a "very strong secondary" with Cade Davis, the coach's son, leading the way with 10 interceptions and 15 pass breakups. Peyton Elliott has 17 breakups and three picks.
"They run a 3-4 like we are, and they're very multiple with a lot of movements," Garfield said.
Garfield also was impressed by linebacker Stephen Smith (233 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss) and end Kyle Rutherford (team-high 10 sacks).
"We've got to be able to slow them down some," Frenship coach Brad Davis said. "They've been very good and very balanced. And offensively, we've got to take care of the football. We'll probably have to throw it more than we have been."
Frenship quarterback Trevor Lloyd is 72 of 144 for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Both teams would rather run, but if they have to pass to get over this hurdle, they're ready to fire way.
The winner will face the Region II-4A winner between Lancaster and Mesquite Poteet.
How they got here
Lost at Abilene Cooper, 43-36
Def. Denton Ryan, 21-15
Def. Amarillo, 26-17
Def. Byron Nelson, 50-14
Def. Brewer, 44-17
Def. Lake Dallas, 26-7
Def. Azle, 29-22
Lost at Denton Guyer, 21-10
Def. Denton, 40-7
Def. WFHS, 49-0
Def. FW Dunbar, 44-26
Def. FW Southwest, 31-21
Def. El Paso Burges, 64-35
Def. EP Riverside, 23-6
Def. Odessa Permian, 23-13
Def. El Paso El Dorado, 27-10
lost at Amarillo, 21-12
Def. San Angelo Lake View, 49-0
Def. Lubbock Monterey, 29-10
Def. Hereford, 70-34
Def. Lubbock, 51-6
Def. Plainview, 37-7
Def. Canyon, 45-23
Def. Clint Horizon, 42-14
Def. Waco, 45-28
Rider by 5