Friday night served as the final dress rehearsal for Ryan’s football team — the last time the team would wear jerseys with no numbers, the last time the Raiders play without keeping track of the score.
In its first scrimmage against a Class 5A opponent and its final scrimmage of the preseason, Ryan looked like it was almost ready to start playing against bigger competition in a real game.
If the scoreboards had been turned on, it would have had Ryan defeating Grapevine 21-3. It was the Raiders’ final tuneup before their season opener Friday at home against Corsicana.
For the second week in a row, Ryan head coach Joey Florence said he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“We’ve had two good scrimmages,” Florence said. “We’ve just got to get better, got to get tougher.”
The scrimmage started out with five punts to Grapevine that were not returned, and it ended with a punt to Grapevine with only two Mustangs on the field facing a group of charging Raiders that never dished out any hits on the game’s final play.
Ryan’s starters received a limited amount of action. When the first team was on the field, the Raiders’ offense quickly pounced on Grapevine’s defense and put 14 points on the board.
On the third play from scrimmage, Ryan senior running back Reynal Caldwell took a handoff from junior quarterback Mitchell Bridges and ran down the left side of the field for a 37-yard touchdown.
After the defense held, the Raiders’ backup offense came in, drove down the field and scored on a jumbo package, featuring junior defensive end Sekou Clark, who rumbled his way into the end zone for their second score.
Ryan maintained the ball and near the goal line, backup quarterback Preston Compton threw a high, arching fade for the Raiders’ third touchdown of the night.
Compton made quality passes throughout the night but did fumble once. Florence was pleased with his junior transfer from Southlake Carroll.
Florence said he plans for Compton and Bridges to both see playing time at quarterback this season, but he definitively said Bridges would be the team’s starter in the opener.
Ryan starting running back A.J. Anderson was helped off the field after he appeared to injure his left ankle. Florence said Anderson was fine after the game and could have returned to the field if it was necessary.
If there was one area in which Florence wasn’t pleased, it was with the team’s turnover ratio. Ryan committed three turnovers on the evening while failing to force any of their own.
Clark said the large contingent of inexperienced players on Ryan’s roster will need to improve and mature before the season starts.
“We do have a lot of young guys who have to grow up quickly, who have no varsity experience,” Clark said.
Ryan returns five offensive starters and two defensive starters from last year’s team that advanced to the Class 4A Division I regional semifinals.
The Raiders’ season opener is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
“I can’t wait till Friday,” Bridges said. “Friday can’t come soon enough.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com.