TPI 4A DFW Top 20 #1 Wichita Falls Rider

The DFW Area 4A Top 20 Countdown comes to an end today with our number 1 team. The Wichita Falls Rider Raiders who posted a 9-5 record in 2006 and seemed to get better by the week. With a load of talented skill players back the Raiders are thinking state title.

Wichita Falls Rider heads into 2007 with high expectations of not only getting their 5th straight playoff berth, but hopes of possibly a state championship. The Raiders expectations are legit as they boast their most talented team in school history, after finishing 9-5 and losing to Wolfforth Frenship 20-17 in the Regional Finals ROHO has unfinished business. Rider will look to several key players and reinforcements from a 10-0 JV squad to fill the holes left by a solid senior class.

The Raiders offense is led by junior QB Shavodrick Beaver who boasts excellent size at 6'4 195 and was voted first team all-district in 2006. Look for the reins to be taken off Beaver in 2006 as having more than full seasons worth of games under his belt should give the staff more confidence in Beaver's ability to make plays with his feet as well as his arm. District MVP Damian Washington is also back in the backfield and he's looking for stellar season number 3 for RHS, if the Raiders younger running backs can step up it could free Washington up to spend more time at Linebacker where he excels, one of the other backs who may see more time toting the rock is junior Jurrell Thompson who also was a first team all-district selection as a sophomore. Eric Ward and Markell Martin look to be the top players at receiver, Ward was second team all 5-4A as a sophomore. Martin is a tremendous athlete who was all-district on defense but may see more time on offense in 2007. The one area of concern with all the skill talent back is the offensive line where all 5 starters graduated. There are capable replacements coming up but how they handle the transition to the Varsity level will determine just how far ROHO advances.

The Raiders defense does have some holes to fill, especially in the front seven and with a tough non-district schedule the youngsters will be tested early and often especially against run heavy teams like Wolfforth Frenship and Plainview. The secondary looks to be a strength with first team all-district DB Dorian Petty back along with the previously mentioned Martin. Look for the Raiders defense to possibly struggle early on but I expect them to hit their stride by the team they get into the meat of the 5-4A schedule.

Much like last year, the Raiders record heading into the playoffs may not be impressive but they'll be battle tested. The non-district slate includes Frenship, Midland Lee, Stephenville and Plainview and then District 5-4A is no cakewalk with Wichita Falls, Denton Ryan and Sherman! I expect the Raiders to pass the test in district with flying colors, but once the playoffs starts it'll be a new ball game. It has been a long time since Region 1 was this tough, as the potential Division 2 bracket features a bevy of strong programs. One slip-up in November and Rider's state title dreams could be dashed in short order.


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