ARGYLE — The last time the Argyle football team played a game, it was for all the marbles as the Eagles took a seven-point loss in the Class 3A Division II state championship game.
While Friday’s season opener against West Texas power Abilene Wylie means nothing in the grand scheme of Argyle’s season, the Eagles’ 31-14 loss was a slap in the face to a proud, yet young, program trying to replace a load of veterans lost to graduation last season.
“We just have to get over that hurdle of inexperience,” Argyle head coach Todd Rodgers said. “We’ve had two pretty good scrimmages of reasonable success, so we’ll have some down moments with all the youth. I guess this was it. It’s a growing pain we have to get through. Unfortunately, it happened in a game instead of a growth moment during practice.”
Not much went right for the Eagles on Friday night. Argyle managed only five first downs while allowing 22 to Wylie, all while playing with a new quarterback and missing two starting receivers in Chance Bode and Dalton Ledford, who are nursing injuries.
Argyle (0-1), No. 6 in The Associated Press Class 3A preseason poll, saw its top offensive playmaker, Ian Sadler, total three offensive touches for 0 yards.
“That’s alarming,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get him the ball. … They did some things we hadn’t seen on tape. Since we’re tremendously inexperienced, we didn’t have any resources to pull from to turn and make adjustments. We have a limited amount of offense right now, and we weren’t able to access all the offense we had with all of those veterans last year.”
Last season, as a sophomore, Sadler caught 53 balls for 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns while also playing a key role in the Eagles’ return game.
Instead, Argyle relied almost solely on a ground game featuring sophomore running back Nick Ralston, who finished with 73 yards on 16 carries, scoring both of Argyle’s touchdowns.
Argyle’s new quarterback, Brandon Boyzuick, who is replacing three-year starter Austin Aune, finished 8-of-18 with 57 yards and two interceptions. The Eagles finished with only 136 total yards.
Where the game was ultimately decided, though, was when the Bulldogs (1-0) had the ball.
Wylie controlled the tempo of the game, and the clock, as the Bulldogs racked up 73 offensive plays to Argyle’s 38.
The Eagles had only one drive — their third of the night — when they put up more than one first down, which forced the Argyle defense into spending more than its fair share of time on the field.
By the middle of the third quarter, Argyle’s defense had had enough as Wylie running back Garrett Martin finished with 167 yards on the ground after collecting only 38 in the first half. He also had 56 receiving yards, including a 10-yard touchdown reception to give Wylie the lead for good in the second quarter.
“I thought we did really well up front,” Wylie head coach Hugh Sandifer said. “We only had two returning starters up there with three new faces. Our guys did well. Garrett did well, Zerrie [Mack] did well, and Hayden [Lewis] got a touchdown. I thought we kept it balanced [in the running game] and just did really well.”
The Eagles’ defense, which entered the game with only one returning starter in its front seven (linebacker Sam Sizelove), had a couple of stops in the fourth quarter, but the offense could not capitalize.
“The defense got exhausted and the offense couldn’t sustain any drives so they could recharge,” Rodgers said. “The defense was on the field way too long. We’ve got to do some things to get that remedied.”
The good thing for Argyle is that the Eagles have five nondistrict games remaining — albeit against stiff competition such as Paris, Kennedale and Dallas Madison — to fix their problems and get their players some valuable experience before they open District 10-3A play on Oct. 19 against Carrollton Ranchview.
“We have time on our side,” Rodgers said. “We just have a tough nondistrict schedule. We’ll have to go through growing pains. We’ve had glimmers of tremendous success in scrimmages, but we’ve had mistakes, too, and we just have to minimize those.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872.
Abilene Wylie 31, Argyle 14
W — Paul Goodrich 35 field goal, 6:15
A — Nick Ralston 17 run (Cole Hedlund kick), 8:11
W — Garrett Martin 10 pass from Taylor Grant (Goodrich kick), 6:04
W — Martin 5 run (Goodrich kick), 1:23
A — Ralston 11 run (Hedlund kick), 2:15
W — Goodrich 13 pass from Grant (Goodrich kick), 4:19
W — Hayden Lewis 14 run (Goodrich kick), 0:28
Rushing — W: Garrett Martin 28-167, Zerrie Mack 9-62, Jonathan Bott 3-13, Taylor Grant 2-7, Hayden Lewis 2-15. A: Nick Ralston 16-73, Ian Sadler 1-0, Brandon Boyzuick 4-3, Hunter Treadwell 1-3.
Passing — W: Taylor Grant 13-28-1-120. A: Brandon Boyzuick 8-18-2-57.