Benji Nelson

The Colony senior wide receiver Benji Nelson dives forward for yardage. 

With a matchup looming against No. 1-ranked Denton Ryan on Friday, Rudy Rangel has had success knocking down the giants during his 14 seasons as The Colony head football coach.

In his first year at the helm in 2007, Rangel received an unexpected visit in his office after a game from former Lewisville head coach and then-Lewisville ISD Athletic Director Neal Wilson.

The Cougars struggled to a 1-5 start under their first-year head coach with two of those losses coming by less than a touchdown. Still, Wilson, a 2003 inductee into the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor who led Lewisville to 10 playoff appearances in 18 years, received a vote of confidence from his boss.

“He comes over to me after a game, and I'll never forget it, and says, 'Coach Rangel, everyone loves you. The principal loves you. The kids love you.  The community supports you. We can win a game,’” Rangel said. “At first, I thought that he was joking. I'm like, 'Yes sir, we're trying.' He tells me and I called my wife and told her, 'I got an interesting visit today from my boss.’”

Days after the visit, The Colony gets a field goal from senior kick Jason Guehler as time expires to lift the Cougars to an improbable 22-20 victory against state-ranked Lake Dallas, the same Falcon team that had future Missouri quarterback and 2015 Canadian Football League Grey Cup Champion James Franklin on their roster. Guehler went on to play soccer for Northern Illinois after leading The Colony to the UIL 4A semifinals as a senior. He scored 44 goals in his final season donning a Cougar uniform.

Rangel’s Cougars also sprung the upset of Frisco Lone Star in 2014 to hand the Rangers their first loss of the season, and two years ago, The Colony defeated Lone Star on a hook-and-ladder play at the end of the game.

The longtime Cougar head coach instilled that belief into his team during the team’s bye week as The Colony prepares to host Ryan, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A Division I, on Friday night at Tommy Briggs Stadium.

“I told the boys, 'Follow me. I've got some pretty big wins in the area.’ When teams were supposed to kill us, we beat them,'" Rangel said.

The Colony enters its matchup with undefeated Ryan at 3-2 and fresh off a 42-24 win over Frisco Centennial.

The Cougars used their power running game to overcome a 10-point deficit. Sophomore Kamden Wesley led all rushers with 181 yards and was one four tailbacks for The Colony who scored during a 28-point fourth-quarter explosion. The Cougars finished with 333 rushing yards.

The Colony will look to control the clock against a Denton Ryan defense that is notorious for limiting the yardage per carry. The Raiders (5-0) have averaged 10 tackles for loss in the five games they have played.

"They're good," Rangel said. "Their front seven is as good of anyone out there. They put Bowman and (Austin Jordan) out there and they can lock down the receivers. Really, they put nine in the box to stop the run. It's going to be a street fight. We're getting excited about it."

Offensively, Ryan is explosive. Senior quarterback Seth Henigan, a Memphis commit, has thrown for 1,060 yards and 13 touchdowns but has sat out the fourth quarter in most games because the Raiders have a big lead. Bowman, who recently committed to Oklahoma, has three rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns, while Texas commit Ja’Tavion Sanders has found the end zone three times. Senior tailback Ke’ori Hicks has 436 rushing yards with four touchdowns.

"It's that time of the season when you need to be playing your best football," Rangel said. "We'll take that momentum from the second half Friday against Centennial and see how far we go against Ryan. My goal next Friday against Ryan is to win that first quarter. At that point, we'll start going to work."

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