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Raiders’ superb season comes to a close
Lubbock Cooper beats Rider in quarterfinals
December 4, 2021
ABILENE — Rider’s star-studded season came to a close Friday night with a 22-0 loss against Lubbock Cooper High School.
The team gathered for a final huddle, and with silent tears streaming down their faces, they cried “One Family, One Team!”
“I’m just proud of how they competed,” head coach Marc Bindel said. “We didn’t play great offensively, but I thought we played well defensively. Well enough to win the game.”
As the clock wound down the final seconds, it was apparent that the Raiders had realized their defeat. Still, support poured endlessly from their coaches.
“There’s 64 teams that enter the playoffs, and for 63 of them, their season’s going to end in a loss,” Bindel said. “There’s definitely a finality to it, especially for the seniors.”
This Cooper victory evens the score between the schools in state quarterfinals at 2-2. Rider won in 2018 and 2020, while Cooper took the victories in 2019 and now 2021.
On the field, it seemed that the numerous penalties and misplays took a toll on the Raiders’ spirit. Rider trailed 9-0 at halftime and Cooper scored a defensive touchdown in the third quarter.
“It just felt like it slipped away from us,” junior quarterback Jack Pitts said. “Honestly, I think we were the better team. We just made a lot of little mistakes that added up to bigger mistakes.”
The Raiders only managed a mere 194 total yards, despite three of their possessions starting in Pirate territory.
“(Cooper) just has a really strong defense,” Pitts said. “Their No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, they’re good guys and they blitz them a lot. It’s always great playing football with them.”
Once again, the state quarterfinals mark the end of Rider’s season. However, the records set by this year’s team have made every game worth playing.
“Our seniors are studs and they have great character,” Bindel said. “And I think character was contagious, so much so that it spread throughout the team.
“I don’t know about next year. I mean, it’s a long way off and people come and go. But, for this year and these guys, I’m super proud of them.”
This year’s Raiders tied the school wins record and finished with a 12-2 mark. As for the seniors, they exceeded the amount of total wins ever observed by a single class—even more than JT Barrett’s group.
“It’s hats off to them,” Bindel said. “I love those guys and they deserve all the credit.”