If it was up to Ryan quarterback Mitchell Bridges, he would have played two weeks ago against McKinney.
He’s the same athlete who played most of Ryan’s season-opening win against Corsicana with a fractured fibula, the same injury that’s caused him to miss Ryan’s last three games.
Instead of opting for surgery, Bridges decided to take a few weeks off to let the injury heal. He’ll be back under center tonight for Ryan’s District 5-5A opener against Flower Mound Marcus. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
Ryan head coach Joey Florence said most players are willing to come back from such injuries in order to help their team out.
“If not, you’ve got the wrong kid playing quarterback,” Florence said. “You look for those types of kids. It’s important to him. Mitchell’s grown up in this program wanting to be a Ryan Raider since he was little.”
Running back Maurice Gordon will be available for the first time this season. Gordon broke his elbow on the first day of contact practice.
Ryan lost two of the three games while Bridges was recovering. Ryan fell to Wichita Falls Rider and Wylie East. The Raiders (2-2) have been off two of the last three weeks, with a win against McKinney sandwiched between the two byes.
In those three games, junior quarterback Preston Compton started while junior Xavier Gray played sparingly at the position. Compton completed 51 percent of his passes, threw one touchdown and had four interceptions in his three games as the team’s starter.
On Wednesday, Bridges said his leg hadn’t fully healed yet but it was going to be back at full strength by tonight.
Last season, Bridges suffered a torn shoulder labrum midway through the season, a testament to his aggressive running style, mixed with a bit of stubbornness and unwillingness to shy away from contact.
When asked if his way of playing football may be a bit of bad thing, he brushed off the notion.
“I don’t think of it like that,” Bridges said. “I’ve just had bad luck.”
Against Corsicana, Ryan found itself trailing 22-3 at halftime, and Bridges helped lead the Raiders back into the contest before they picked up a 40-28 victory in the first game of the season.
“Mitchell brings an ‘it’ factor to that position, and that’s something we’ve recognized all along,” Florence said. “He’s a tough kid and he’s a winner. He basically played that whole Corsicana game on a broken fibula, so that’s the kind of leadership that you get.”
The Raiders will face a Marcus team that’s had quarterback problems of its own. Marcus (1-4) lost starting quarterback Cole Erwin before the season to a knee injury.
His younger brother, sophomore Cade Erwin, stepped up last week and accounted for three touchdowns in Marcus’ 35-21 victory over Plano.
Now as Ryan is primed to make a push for the playoffs, the Raiders will have their quarterback back, ready to lead his team into a difficult five-game district schedule.
“He’s a big leader for our team,” Gray said. “Behind him, we do it.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .