Denton Ryan @ Keller Preview

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Matt Harris

Staff Writer

Last week Keller pulled out a come from behind 41-38 win in overtime against Keller Timber Creek. The Indians pulled out the win thanks to two kickoffs returned for touchdowns by Landry Hutchins and Liam Ardigo. The offense was able to put up 24 points in regulation which is somewhat of a concern in their play against Denton Ryan. The Raiders defense has been one of the best in the state this year. But to go with a stellar defense is a very pedestrian offense. Ryan is averaging 22 points over their last 3 games after an easy non-district schedule and a 51-6 blowout of Keller Central. This game will likely come down to how many points the Keller offense can put up.

The Offense:

Keller put up a respectable 41 points last week but that is a very deceiving number. The offense only scored 24 in regulation before adding 3 in overtime on a drive that started from the 25 yard line. QB Dillion Smith threw a pair of very costly interceptions that put the Indians in a tight spot. RB Tyler Tutt also struggled to get going until the final drive when he marched the Indians right down the field for a game tying score and 2-point conversion. Against a stout Denton Ryan defense, Keller should look to run Tyler Tutt early and mix it with some screens to WR Dillion Smith. Picking up first downs early will be important. As for the Ryan Raiders, play action should be effective. They do not have a good running back but have two very talented receivers. Going up against a good Keller secondary, rolling out QB Spencer Saunders would be smart. Although Saunders is the QB, he is also the leading rusher. If he can get the ball to receivers Rodney Gladney and Gabriel Douglas that should help as well. Saunders does have four INT’s on the year so he needs to be careful about not forcing the ball to his talented playmakers on the edge. Ryan doesn’t need to give Keller any big momentum such as an interception on their half of the field.

The Defense:

With Sam Houston State QB commit, Caleb Griffin, out for the year with a knee injury and the Keller offense struggling to produce points, the defense has stepped up in a big way in the last couple of weeks before yielding 38 to Timber Creek. With a Ryan Raider offense that has struggled to find points against average teams in the last couple weeks, the Indian defensive performance will be crucial to keep the offense in the game. If the Keller defense can make enough stops, the game could come down to whoever has the ball last. As we mentioned above, the Denton Ryan defense has been absolutely phenomenal this year. The Raiders are allowing an average of just 13.8 points per game which is one of the best marks in the entire state. And with an inexperienced quarterback, the Keller offense will be lucky to reach the 14 point threshold that the Raider defense has been holding teams under this year. This game will come down to how much Keller can break such an outstanding defense. We fully expect this game to be a low scoring defensive battle.

The Prediction:

As we might have mentioned before, the post-Caleb Griffin era came way too soon for comfort for Keller. Most people fully expected that the Indians would have the entire offseason to train the man in waiting but a devastating injury has junior QB Dillion Smith thrust into the starting spot a little bit quicker than anyone would have liked. Smith hasn’t looked bad in the 3 games he has appeared in this season, but doesn’t have the same skills and experience of Griffin. That has put a bit of a handicap on the Indian offense. Teams have been able to shut down RB Tutt much better with Smith as the QB as the Keller passing game isn’t the same as what it was when Caleb Griffin was leading the team. And with Keller set to face the toughest defense it will see this season, we don’t see the offense taking any major leaps forward this week. Keller has a banged up offense but an improving defense. Ryan has a stout defense but an average offense. Both teams will struggle to amass points in this defensive showdown. In end, the Ryan offense will not be able to put up enough points to really pull away, but the Keller offense will not be able to have much success against the Raider defense. The Indians will give the undefeated Raiders their best shot. Should Keller win each of its next three games, it would avoid a first round playoff matchup with three-time defending state champion Allen. But it still just won’t be enough in the end. We think Denton Ryan stays undefeated and wins 24-20.