Denton Ryan outlasts Mansfield Summit to advance to State Championship Game

There’s something to be said for the season Mansfield Summit had. Actually, there’s a lot of things to be said for the season Jaguars turned in. All of those things will be said by the coaching staff, players and fans in the Mansfield community over the next eight months. If we're being honest, there’s a lot to say for having a season in the middle of a pandemic at all.

Denton Ryan ended Mansfield Summit’s storybook run through the playoffs with a 49-35 win at AT&T Stadium on Friday night.

Although Summit’s story is a good one, the real story is of a father and son - coach and quarterback duo trying to restore greatness to a school that hasn’t won a State Championship since 2003.

Seth Henigan changed his number from 17 to 9 before the season started in hopes of winning a State Championship. James Battle was the last quarterback to win a title at Denton Ryan, and he wore number 9, hence the change. Now, Denton Ryan is back in the State Championship Game and looking to erase the bitter disappointment of a 28-22 loss in the final game to Shadow Creek last season.

Denton Ryan opened the game with a 14-0 lead after a Ty Marsh fumble recovery was returned for a touchdown and then Anthony Hill Jr. followed a nice run from Kalib Hicks with a score on the ground from a yard out. Though it was what many expected It was hardly smooth sailing from there.

Mansfield Summit answered the Raiders touchdown with a Keon Hobbs touchdown run late in the first quarter. Then Elijah Lewinson picked off Henigan on the following possession, but Summit was unable to take advantage. David Hopkins was intercepted by Billy Bowman Jr. in the end zone a few plays later. The OU commit returned it the length of the field for a touchdown, but the score was called all the way back to the Ryan one yard-line thanks to a block-in-the-back.

Henigan found Bowman Jr. on a slant route for a touchdown to give the Raiders a 21-7 lead with 1:47 remaining in the half, but Mansfield Summit had an answer. Hopkins found Jaydon Lott down the field with five seconds remaining in the half. The Summit quarterback scored the first of his four-total touchdowns on the next play to cut the lead to 21-13 as the first half expired.

Denton Ryan opened the second half with a touchdown pass from Henigan to Jordyn Bailey and Summit would struggle to move the ball for much of the third quarter. The momentum shifted  though as Hopkins found Hal Presley for a 79-yard touchdown on a beautifully placed deep ball to cut the Raiders lead to 28-20 late in the third quarter.

The penalties started adding up for Denton Ryan towards the end of the third quarter. A face mask and an offsides on back-to-back plays set up another Hopkins touchdown run as Summit cut the Ryan lead to 28-27 early in the 4th quarter. Denton Ryan would finish with 14 penalties for 94 yards in total.

It was all Raiders from that point on however as a blocked punt set up a Ja’Tavion Sanders touchdown pass to Henigan on a trick play to give the Raiders an eight-point lead. A few plays later Ryan's pass rush forced Hopkins into an interception as Rice Commit DJ Arkansas returned the interception for a score to power the Raiders past Summit and back to the 5A DI State Championship Game.

“Coach told me I had to make a play,” Arkansas said. “I knew I had to do something. The ball went up in the air; I caught it and took it to the crib.”

Head Coach Dave Henigan and son Seth will have a busy week ahead. While both will try to prepare for the 5A DI State Championship Game like normal, Seth will be leaving town a few days after the Game to enroll early and begin his football career at Memphis. There are plenty of emotions that come with playing in such a big game and sending your son off to college. Dave Henigan said a lot of the college prep will fall on his wife.

“It’s a whirlwind,” Henigan said. “My wife is handling most of [the college prep]. Seth and I are just focused on trying to win the state championship.”

It’s been a long journey to climb the mountain back to the State Championship Game. It’s a journey that almost didn’t happen because of the COVID-19 virus. But Dave and Seth will get one last shot to win a State Championship together. That’s been the dream for those two for a long time, and it’s the dream of so many father and son- coach and player duos across the state of Texas. Now that the opportunity is here, Coach Henigan's said his family is going to try to enjoy the moment.

“It’s a special time for us and our family,” Henigan said. “We’re just enjoying it and enjoying the moment. We get another chance to play and practice this week. The day after the State Championship Game [Seth’s] going to be heading out of town to go to Memphis for college. We’re just going to enjoy [the next week] as much as we can.”

Denton Ryan is certainly relieved to have climbed the mountain again and proud of how far they have come. But nothing would compare to a win over Cedar Park in the 5A DI State Championship Game. The moment of a lifetime will come for the Henigan’s next Friday night at AT&T Stadium and regardless of the outcome, Dave will always be proud of Seth’s accomplishments as a player and a son.