EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — For the first time since 2014, three El Paso-area high school football teams have advanced to the ‘Sweet 16’ of the Texas state playoffs. For the Riverside Rangers, it’s the deepest they’ve gone in the playoffs in 17 years.
The Rangers will play Springtown in the Class 4A Regional Semifinals on Saturday in Midland. They come into the matchup 11-1, having won their last seven games, including last week’s Area Round win over Lake Worth. It’s Riverside’s third trip to the Regional Semifinals in school history.
“We win a game here, win a game there, and all of a sudden we are competing for a state championship,” said head coach Gary Recoder, who is coaching at his alma mater. “To talk about that — especially as an El Paso kid or an El Paso team — it’s kind of one of those, ‘yeah, right.’ But it’s within reach. They have it in their hands and they just have to go get it.”
While Riverside’s playoff success might come as a surprise to some, it was the expectation for the Rangers heading into the 2021 season. The Rangers early playoff exit last season has fueled this team en route to one of their best seasons in program history.
“[We’ve been playing great football because of] the players we have,” said junior running back Jose Guardado. “We have speed, strength and we’re a family. We all play as a family.”
The cast of players that makeup this year’s Rangers team is pretty impressive. Junior quarterback Angel “Speedy” Munoz has thrown for 1,813 yards and 20 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,898 yards and 22 touchdowns. Guardado has added another 1,496 rushing yards and 24 total touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Frank Luna has tallied 645 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 3 p.m. MT at Grande Communications Stadium.
CLASS 6A D-II REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
Eastwood (8-4) vs. Prosper (8-4) – Saturday, 12 p.m. MT, Lowrey Field at Plainscapital Park – Lubbock, TX
CLASS 5A D-II REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
Canutillo (11-1) vs. Wichita Falls Rider (11-1) – Friday, 3 p.m. MT, Grande Communications Stadium – Midland, TX
CLASS 4A D-I REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
Riverside (11-1) vs. Springtown (9-3) – Saturday, 3 p.m. MT, Grande Communications Stadium – Midland, TX