Stingy defense has Rider on verge of Region I final

Raiders forcing turnovers and holding opposition at bay

Andy Newberry




D.J. Arnold made his team-leading seventh interception against Southwest.

D.J. Arnold made his team-leading seventh interception against Southwest.

Rider's Trey Parker (51) slides through the Denton offensive line during their game  Nov. 2 at Memorial Stadium.
Patrick Johnston/Times Record News

Rider's Trey Parker (51) slides through the Denton offensive line during their game Nov. 2 at Memorial Stadium. Patrick Johnston/Times Record News

The Rider defense hasn't been in the giving mood in the second half of its playoff games this year, allowing just one score after intermission the past two weeks.

That stinginess has allowed the Raiders to take control down the stretch of two victories, and they've continued a season-long trend of taking the ball away from the opposition.

The Raiders (10-2) earned a chance to face El Paso Burges (10-2) in the Class 4A Region I semifinals at 7 p.m. Saturday in Midland.

In addition to keeping Dunbar and Southwest from driving the field in the playoffs, the Rider defenders have continued to be ball hawks.

In a drive to give themselves and their fans a Region I-4A championship and maybe more, they're doing a lot of taking but not much giving on the football field.

The Raiders had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the 31-21 victory over Southwest.

They have come up with two or more turnovers in every game this season, and have 19 interceptions.

"It made me feel good to see the kids believe in the system," Rider coach Jim Garfield said. "They are attacking the football where it's going, not where it's at. They have route concepts and it's all coming together."

The picks Friday came from usual suspects D.J. Arnold and Fred Williams, the senior safeties. Arnold has seven on the season to lead the team, and Williams is second with five.

Defensive nose tackle Trey Parker forced a fumble for the second consecutive game. He also had five tackles and a sack.

End Dylan Williams led the linemen with six tackles, and he also had a sack and another tackle for loss.

Linebacker Josh Haisten and Dylan Williams led the Raiders with 12 tackles apiece. Caleb Levell added 11 tackles, his fifth sack and a fumble recovery.

Haisten became the second Raider with 100 or more tackles with 106. Bradley Golstein had seven to increase his team-high total to 139.

Tanner Weir was held without a pass breakup, which was unusual, but when Southwest tested Amani Colbert on the other side, he was up to the task with two breakups. Colbert's six is second on the team while Weir leads with 11.

Rider played without end Cody Ribble last week after he was injured against Dunbar. The next man up was Brayden Burgess, and he stepped in with three tackles.

Notes: Tickets for the regional semifinal game at Grande Communications Stadium will be $10 at the gate. The pre-sale tickets at Rider will be $8 for adults and $4 for students.

n The other Division II I-4A semifinal features Waco taking on Frenship, which will be played Saturday afternoon in San Angelo. If Frenship and Rider win, the Raiders would get to play at home after going to Wolfforth a year ago.

n The Region I-4A final four in Division I is District 5-4A champion Denton Guyer taking on Amarillo, a team Rider defeated in nondistrict play. The other half of that draw is Lubbock Monterey and Birdville, and those two will battle at 2 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Rider defensive leaders

Tackles — Bradley Goldstein 139, Josh Haisten 106, Fred Williams 89, Caleb Levell 86, Sam Scribner 83, D.J. Arnold 70, Trey Parker 53, Cody Ribble 52, Dylan Williams 51, Tanner Weir 49.

Sacks — Scribner 5, Levell 5, D. Williams 4.

Tackles for loss — Levell 7, Scribner 5, Haisten 5, Williams 4, Goldstein 4.

Forced fumbles — Arnold 2, Levell 2, F. Williams 2.

Fumble recoveries — F. Williams 3, Arnold 2, Josh Price 2, Scribner 2.

Interceptions — Arnold 7, Williams 5, Mason Stone 2, Weir 2, Amani Colbert 1, Goldstein 1, Carlos Fleeks 1.

Pass breakups — Weir 11, Colbert 6, Arnold 4, Williams 4.

© 2012 Times Record News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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