HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Rangers, Raiders lock horns in season opener

Rouse and Vista Ridge meet up for the first time since 2013

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Friday's season-opening matchup between Leander ISD rivals Vista Ridge and Rouse is a battle of two programs seeking redemption.

It is the first game between the two schools six miles apart since a 2013 bout that saw Rouse come out on top 20-10.

For the Rangers, the game is a way to right the ship after the team lost its final four games of 2017 and wound up missing the postseason. In last year's District 25-6A, which featured in-district matchups with state-ranked Westlake and Lake Travis, Vista Ridge was sitting at 4-2 before the schedule saw them face Vandegrift, Hays, Lake Travis, and Westlake, and the Rangers finished 4-6 (2-4) on the season

To start the season on a high note would help Vincent and crew set up for a tough season ahead. A nine-team District 13-6A features the five Round Rock ISD schools, Pflugerville-Hendrickson, Leander and Vandegrift, so few would say there are any certain victories on the schedule. Capturing an early-season win can be critical for a team's confidence down the road.

The Rangers offense boasts experience and chemistry, forged in part during a run to the state 7-on-7 tournament over the summer. Running back Thailand Mayberry and quarterback Drew Cantu were a part of that team - the only LISD squad to qualify for the state finals in College Station.

The Raiders look to return to the postseason after a brief appearance last season, falling to Magnolia West. Rouse, the fourth-seeded team out of the district, was close - trailing 28-24 in the third quarter - but a pair of long touchdowns by Magnolia West put the contest out of reach.

Rouse's last playoff win was in 2013 when the Billy Ray McCrary-led team advanced all the way to the Class 4A (now 5A) state quarterfinals. Last season, Rouse finished 5-6, with a 4-4 mark in district play.

Two of the top contributors from last season's Rouse team will look to turn the tide - star rushers Tavian Tate and Mylan Mitchell. The duo combined for over 1,000 rushing yards and nine touchdowns last season.

These two teams with similar preseason storylines clash at Bible Stadium in Leander for a non-district opener at 7 p.m.

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