If Lone Star’s success this season, which includes a plethora of lopsided victories over Highland Park and others, wasn’t enough, the Rangers added even more to their resume Thursday night.
A 63-14 shellacking over Independence can now be added to the mantle of the No. 1-ranked squad in all of Class 5A Division I, as Lone Star marched on to its sixth consecutive win.
Meanwhile, the Knights picked up their second loss in the district standings this week after news broke Friday morning that they forfeited their 49-7 victory on Oct. 4 over Heritage due to an ineligible player. It was self-reported by the school and district coaches have been notified.
Despite now having a 1-2 district record, Independence sported one of the more high-powered offenses in the area heading into Thursday’s showdown, averaging over 55 points and 600 yards per game.
However, Independence had yet to be matched up against a team even remotely on Lone Star’s level, and head coach Kyle Story had some high praise for an opponent that handed his unit its first loss of the season in blowout fashion.
“That is by far the most talented team I have seen them have,” he said. “They had some big-time players in the past with [Jason] Shelley, [Jaylen] Dixon and [Nick] Bolton, but they didn’t have them all over the field like they do now. They have them at every position, and they are the best overall team.”
Story and his crew knew that if they had any shot in pulling off the upset it would start on the defensive end in weathering the early storm and containing senior wide receiver Marvin Mims.
The Stanford commit has terrorized opponents all season long and went into Thursday night among the state leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns. With that said, the Knights succeeded early in keeping the ball out of his hands, as they double-teamed Mims and forced other players to beat them.
And Lone Star did just that.
With Mims hounded by multiple defenders on all drives in the first half, the Rangers turned to their stout rushing attack, led by senior running backs Jake Bogdon and Jaden Nixon.
The dynamic duo each scored from 1 yard out on Lone Star’s first two possessions of the ballgame, and even sophomore quarterback Garret Rangel displayed his unknown scrambling abilities with 25 yards on three carries on the opening drive to set up the Bogdon score.
“Garret is a really good athlete,” said Jeff Rayburn, Lone Star head coach. “Because he sits in the pocket and slings it around most of the time, people don’t realize how good of an athlete he is.”
With a commanding 14-0 lead just a few minutes in, the Rangers’ defense kept the foot on the gas by forcing a critical turnover on downs at midfield a few plays later, highlighted by a pair of sacks from junior middle linebacker Alessio Russolillo.
Then on the very next play, Lone Star blew things wide open when Nixon took a screen pass from Rangel and dashed his way down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown to give the Rangers a 21-0 advantage.
“We decided to try and take Mims out of it and see if the other ones could beat us,” Story said. “Sure enough, they could. It was a good defensive game plan for Mims, but it wasn’t good for everybody else because all the rest of them hurt us.”
In fact, Mims did not touch the ball until the 7:01 mark of the second quarter when he burnt the entire Independence secondary for a 43-yard touchdown grab that gave his squad a 35-0 lead.
When it was all said and done, Lone Star crushed Independence in every single major statistical category as the Rangers out-gained the Knights in total yards, 582-274, and posted double the amount of rushing yards behind big nights from Nixon and Bogdon.
Rangel completed 20-of-21 pass attempts for 338 yards and three touchdowns, while the defense limited Independence junior quarterback Braylon Braxton to just 152 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite yet another marquee win for Lone Star, Rayburn still believes the Rangers still have areas they need to improve as the postseason looms.
“We don’t care if it’s Independence, Highland Park or the Dallas Cowboys, we want to prepare and play our best,” he said. “We still have yet to do that, but we’re getting there and getting better every single week.”