Raiders reflect on yo-yo seasons

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Head coach Josh Mann has been up and down with Rouse.

The Raiders went from freelance for their first two seasons to Class 4A — which is now 5A — in 2010, up to 6A for two seasons and back down to 5A this year, where they won six games for the first time in two seasons and were within one game of the playoffs.

“It’s fun, but it does create some toughness with the yo-yo effect,” Mann said. “Stability creates some consistency. When you’re changing, it’s hard to get in a rhythm when you don’t know what your base needs are.”

The offense took a huge step forward as multiple school records were broken. Michael Forster threw for 1,569 yards and 19 touchdowns. Chance Cooper was his main target, catching 65 passes for 909 yards and 13 scores while Gavin Sharp caught six touchdowns and ran for another 10. 

Devin Tucker ran for 912 yards and 15 touchdowns and had four 100-yard games in the process. His backup, Sanquintin McFarlan, had 56 carries for 405 yards and four scores this year. 

Most of the offensive weapons will leave via graduation aside from McFarlan. Rouse will have experience up front with three of the four linemen returning next season. Sophomore Ethan Moore didn’t get a lot of playing time at quarterback but spent the entire year learning the system at the varsity level.

“We’re losing a good senior class, but that’s the goal every year,” Mann said. “Every year we start looking at the depth chart after the season and each year you see the same things and kids step up. We’ve got some of those guys that are going to have to grow. The biggest issue is the depth.”

Cooper, Sharp and Tucker were all named first-team All-District along with offensive lineman Ayden Sharp, defensive back Adam May and linebacker Hayden Bruce. Forster, offensive lineman Blake Ratliff, safety Jon Wolski and linebacker Alejandro Salazar were the second team honorees. 

The shift to a new district class was made even more difficult due to depleted numbers this year. Rouse was one of the schools with students that were part of the very first football team at Glenn. 

Mann is the one and only coach Rouse has had. When he helped get the program started, they had kids that were originally zoned to play for Vista Ridge and Leander. He said he’d already coached some of the kids that left for Glenn, which made the divorce that much more difficult. 

“I’ve been on both sides of that and it’s a hard sell,” Mann said. “Especially when all the schools in the area are so good. It hurts, but any school they go to in LISD, they’re going to be ok. That’s where the consistency in numbers comes up.”

The up-and-down motion isn’t going to end soon for the Raiders. A seventh LISD high school is in the works, but it is unknown as to when the doors will be opened. 

Mann said it’s stressful, but there are many more factors that go into rezoning and redistricting than just football. It can also be an annoyance to family members that attended a certain high school and wanted that tradition to continue. 

“You worry about those things because they’re things in your future,” Mann said. “We talk to the kids all the time about controlling the controllable and I can’t control anything. The grass is green here too.”

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