Another kind of victory

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Another kind of victory

Junior Nick Darcus celebrates victory over WFHS at the playoffs.

Junior Nick Darcus celebrates victory over WFHS at the playoffs.

Gavin Glougie

Junior Nick Darcus celebrates victory over WFHS at the playoffs.

Gavin Glougie

Gavin Glougie

Junior Nick Darcus celebrates victory over WFHS at the playoffs.

Meghan Helton, Reporter

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Despite ending with a playoff loss to Lubbock Cooper, the Rider football team’s 2019 season has definitely been one to remember. 

Beating rival Old High for a consecutive fifth year and advancing to the state quarterfinals were impressive accomplishments, but what stood out most in this postseason was the Raiders’ victory against WFHS in a historic first playoff meeting.

“I think both teams were excited to be part of it and be in it,” Raiders coach Marc Bindel said. “We were fortunate to come out with a win and I was excited about it.”

Looking back on the 2019 season, the 56-20 blowout against the Coyotes on the Friday after Thanksgiving will be what most Raiders remember the fondest. 

“That was such a hyped game, and it was such a special deal for the city of Wichita Falls,” Bindel said. “I think both teams were excited to be part of it and be in it. We were fortunate to come out with a win and I was excited about it.”

Quarterback Jacob Rodriguez, who threw for 250 yards and four touchdowns against Old High, said the team was confident it could win the rivalry game for the second time in a month. The junior was also glad that Rider didn’t have to make a second straight trip to Midland to play another El Paso school. 

“We were definitely excited to play Old High,” Rodriguez said. “Yeah, we were confident. But it was more of we were confident in ourselves and our abilities rather than focusing on them and what they can do.”

Completing 12 of his 18 passes and making a 57-yard touchdown run, Rodriguez was kept on his toes all afternoon, but refused to let the excitement get to him. 

“Try not to think about it as much,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just a regular playoff game. That kind of kept me calm through the beginning of it. But once you get into the game, you just kind of keep it rolling and that’s what we did.”

But not everyone’s been through a game like this before.

This was Castles’ first playoff experience after spending the previous two years at Archer City and Bowie.

“I haven’t really had any experience because I haven’t been in a football playoff game,” junior receiver Jed Castles said. “This was my first time, and we really went far. It was just great.”

Making the rivalry win more special was that he scored twice, catching an 84-yard touchdown pass and returning an interception 62 yards for the final score. 

“I wasn’t really supposed to score on defense because I went in for someone after I came in late on the field,” Castles said. “It just kind of happened.”

Rider’s season came to an end the next week with a 38-17 loss to Cooper. The Raiders finished the 2019 season with a 9-5 record, advancing to the state quarterfinals for the fifth time this decade.

Although several seniors won’t be coming back, the expectations will be high again in 2020. Bindel wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“A lot of theses guys, seniors who have been on varsity for a long time, I want them to teach the younger classes what it means to prepare all season,” Bindel said. “Teach these younger guys and get them coached up so that, when they leave, they’re leaving a legacy.”