[By Stephen Amason, Special to ETSN.fm]

The West Rusk Raiders moved from District 9-3A Division II to their new home, District 8-3A Division I, this season. Some things have changed when it comes to the Raiders but then again, some things haven’t.

The Raiders are 5-0 (1-0), same as they were at the midway point last season and again have one of the best defenses in their new district.

“One of the things we knew we had going into this year was depth,” West Rusk coach John Frazier said. “We knew that was going to be important going into a district like this.”

The defense has only allowed an average of 17.8 points per game in 2018, registered 15 sacks on the year – an average of three sacks per game. It seems as if the Raiders have picked up from where they left off last year defensively.

“Last year we had a good solid defense and I think Tyree Wilson (now at Texas A&M) got a lot of that credit but surrounding him last year was a very solid group of kids,” Frazier said. “They’re disciplined, tough, and motivated. Everything you want in a defense.”

Another reason why West Rusk is such a tough team is the amount of returning seniors they’ve had come back from last year’s regional semifinalist team.

“When you have this many returning seniors, they’ve been there, done that,” Frazier said. “They’ve played in big games, been undefeated before, when they go out on Friday night there’s nothing new to them. I think every coach in Texas would agree with me, there’s no substitute for experience and fortunately for us, we have that.”

Last week, West Rusk got its first district win on the year against previously unbeaten Mineola, 42-21. The Raiders were relentless on defense and could almost score at will on the other side of the ball.

They finished the game with 339 yards total in rushing, led by Junior running back Tyrell Moore, who ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns. He has 478 yards rushing on the year, and averages around 95 yards per game.

Senior wide receiver Trevor Henson has 247 yards receiving, an average of 27.7 yards per catch and four touchdowns.

This week West Rusk takes on another undefeated team, the Gladewater Bears. The suffocating defense of West Rusk versus the high powered offense of Gladewater appears to be a fantastic matchup and the biggest test for the Raiders defense so far.

“They’re a really good football team,” Frazier said about Gladewater. “They’re well coached, very disciplined, very simple in their X’s and O’s, and they do a great job of executing it with discipline and toughness”