On Saturday, a good number of people sacrificed at least two hours of their morning and filled the bleachers at Ryan’s practice field to watch the Raiders scrimmage against Fort Worth Southwest.
Ryan alternated between its first and second teams before playing a quarter to close out the varsity portion of the scrimmage, before all the players filed off the field and grabbed an early lunch.
Ryan scored three touchdowns and a field goal, while Southwest had one touchdown to show for its efforts.
For Ryan head coach Joey Florence, who says he doesn’t keep score during scrimmages, the game served as an opportunity to assess his team before its Aug. 31 season opener against Corsicana.
“I thought it was a good scrimmage for us,” Florence said. “We always have a good scrimmage with Southwest. It’s a good start, obviously. We saw a lot of really good things, but there’s some areas we need to improve on. Overall, I was pleased. The biggest thing is I don’t think we have any injuries.”
Florence’s sentiments summed up what Saturday was all about. Ryan helped its newcomers adjust to playing on the varsity squad, including junior quarterback Mitchell Bridges.
Bridges took the reins for the first time and said he wasn’t too nervous about the scrimmage. He said it was pretty much like practice.
Most of Bridges’ passes were short, quick plays to his wide receivers, but he did throw two interceptions.
“We have a lot of quick guys — just get it out to them and let them make plays,” Bridges said of Ryan’s passing approach against Southwest.
A.J. Anderson began his transition into the starting running back role, taking over for Jerrick Harvey and Reynal Caldwell, who replaced Harvey last year after he suffered an injury that ended his senior season. Caldwell is now lining up at wide receiver.
“It gives us a feel for the game,” Anderson said of the scrimmage. “Get the hits, get the hits in, getting used to guys laying on top of you — just a good feel for the game.”
But for all the things Florence liked, there were some weaknesses Ryan will attempt to address. Florence said the offensive line must improve.
The Ryan coach also said the secondary could have played better. Southwest boasted the tandem of quarterback Wesley Harris and receiver Robbie Rhodes, who both have committed to Baylor.
Rhodes is considered to be one of the best wide receivers in the state, and he exposed Ryan’s secondary for Southwest’s only touchdown of the day. With an inexperienced group of defensive backs, Florence figured that’s how things were going to go for Ryan.
“We expected that,” Florence said. “They’re young, and that guy’s as good a receiver as we’ll see all year.”
Defensive lineman J.T. Williams echoed Florence’s sentiments regarding the secondary, and he said the defensive line could have applied more pressure throughout the morning. Williams said the Class 4A Southwest team that Ryan faced Saturday was much improved from the squad that Ryan scrimmaged last season.
“We did all right today,” Williams said. “We need to work on some stuff and we’ll get a lot better, and we’ll see how the season goes.”
Ryan, which is moving up to Class 5A this season, next will scrimmage 5A Grapevine at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.