Perhaps what the Ryan football team needed more than a win was a week off — a week to recollect and recover from tough back-to-back losses.
Ryan lost close games to Wichita Falls Rider and Wylie East, and for the first time since 2007 lost consecutive regular-season games.
Back then, the situation was a bit different. Ryan, then a Class 4A school, ran into two tough 5A opponents in Arlington Bowie and Colleyville Heritage.
This year as a 5A school, it’s been the other way around.
Ryan’s been stumped by two solid 4A teams, and will face another test tonight when the Raiders visit McKinney at 7:30 p.m. at Ron Poe Stadium. It’s Ryan’s final nondistrict game before the Raiders are off again next week.
In accordance with his coaching ideologies, Ryan head coach Joey Florence won’t put too much stock in tonight’s game, even if Ryan is at risk of losing its third straight contest.
“It’s not a do or die,” Florence said. “We’re not putting any more emphasis on it. It’s just another game on the schedule. Like I said, we haven’t changed from the very first day. We’re trying to get better, and our goal is to get a ticket to the dance at the end of the season.”
And by the dance, Florence is talking about the playoffs, where four of the six teams in District 5-5A will find themselves.
But before Ryan (1-2) gets into district play, the Raiders play McKinney (4-0), a team that’s shown a knack for putting up a lot of points this season.
McKinney has scored at least 40 points in all four games and is averaging 46 points per game. On Tuesday afternoon, a visitor to Florence’s office suggested that McKinney wasn’t a formidable opponent. Florence quickly corrected his visitor.
“They’re scoring points at will on people,” Florence said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for our kids.”
In Ryan’s last game against Wylie East, the Raiders allowed 528 yards to a team laced with talent. Ryan senior Reynal Caldwell, who’s playing free safety, said tonight’s game will hinge on how well the secondary can contain McKinney’s pass-oriented offense.
Caldwell also said causing turnovers will be a huge part of the game plan. Ryan has committed five turnovers this season while only forcing three.
“We’ve been working a lot since the Wylie game on stripping the ball,” Caldwell said. “I’ve dropped a couple of interceptions. I’m trying not to this week.”
A win this week sets Ryan up for another bye week, a testament to the difficulties Florence had in getting a team he wanted to play in the schedule’s slot.
Ryan will begin its five-game district slate Oct. 12 against Flower Mound Marcus, a team that’s winless and will be without starting quarterback Cole Irwin, who tore his ACL.
Junior quarterback Preston Compton will make his third straight start for the Raiders tonight. Compton has been in the lineup since junior Mitchell Bridges suffered a fractured fibula in Ryan’s season opener against Corsicana.
Florence said he expects Bridges and running back Maurice Gordon to return to the lineup against Marcus.
But against McKinney, Ryan is looking to avoid a three-game losing streak.
“That would be real bad,” junior wide receiver Trent Willis said. “We need to come in here and get a win, and get things back to where they need to be.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .