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Football: Guyer, Ryan, Denton ready for final tuneups

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Staff reports

For two football programs that have met in a game just once, Guyer and Aledo are awfully familiar with each other.

The Wildcats knocked off Aledo, at the time a three-time defending state champion, in the area round of the playoffs last November en route to their first state championship.

But prior to that game, Guyer and Aledo had scrimmaged in three straight preseasons, and today they will make it four straight when they scrimmage at 7 p.m. at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex before kicking off the regular season next week.

Guyer head coach John Walsh said that despite playing only one actual game against the Bearcats, the programs have a history and a mutual admiration for one another.

“We both recognize we’re quality programs, and we both recognize we’ll be better after this,” Walsh said. “There’s not any trash talk. It’s real business and real respectful. When our boys put their hand in the ground, they know who they’re looking at, and last year we were looking at a three-time defending state champion. Now we’ve won one.”

Guyer jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead against Aledo in last year’s area-round playoff game before cruising to a 42-30 win, which marked Aledo’s first postseason loss since 2008, the first year Guyer made the postseason.

The Wildcats will rest several starters, including tackle Bryan Barrett, tight end Jonathan Pershall and fullback Nathan Maki. Quarterback Jerrod Heard will play 20 plays before exiting.

The possibility of a postseason matchup doesn’t give Walsh any reservations about the preseason schedule, even if it might have last year at this time.

“We’ve seen them now, and they’ve seen us,” Walsh said. “After you play in a playoff game, you’ve seen each other’s cards. I wasn’t too fond of it last year. We ran a few plays in the scrimmage that I knew had to be successful, so it bothered me a little bit last year but not anymore.”

— Adam Boedeker


Ryan at Grapevine, 7:30 p.m.

Heading into tonight’s scrimmage against Grapevine, Ryan’s starting players will get an opportunity to sit back and knock another day off the calendar before the season starts next week at Corsicana.

Tonight’s scrimmage is less about those who will be playing on the opening drives and more about the guys who will be coming off the bench.

Ryan closes out its preseason schedule against Grapevine at 7:30 tonight at Mustang-Panther Stadium.

Ryan head coach Joey Florence said tonight’s rehearsal will be a chance for those jockeying for playing time and starting positions to showcase what they can do.

“When you’re trying to evaluate kids and see how much playing time and where they’re going to fit, the scrimmages are great for that,” Florence said. “You’ll see them play more than the guys we’ve got penciled in as our starters.”

Along with seeing who will be capable backups for the Raiders, the two main units that will be closely watched will be the offensive line and the defensive backs. Both units are relatively inexperienced compared to the rest of the team.

Junior defensive back Elijah Allen will be one of the starting cornerbacks, but Florence said positions are up for grabs throughout the rest of the secondary.

The Ryan head coach said he’ll also be interested to see how senior Reese Strait plays in his new role this season. Strait was a linebacker last season but has been moved to start at defensive tackle for the Raiders this season.

Tonight’s scrimmage will be the last chance for players to prove themselves before the games begin to go toward the win and loss columns.

“We’ll try to get out of [Grapevine] without any injuries and get ready for the one that counts next Friday night at Corsicana,” Florence said.

— Ben Baby


Denton at Frisco Wakeland, 7 p.m.

In Denton’s first glimpse at live competition this season in its scrimmage tonight at Frisco Wakeland, the Broncos will have plenty of work to do and several creases to iron out.

Multiple position decisions will have a clearer picture after tonight’s scrimmage, which begins at 7, with guard, cornerback and running back spots and a wide receiver hierarchy still yet to be determined.

Head coach Kevin Atkinson’s main focus is on the little aspects of the game with less of a focus on the score and scheming.

“The biggest thing is we need to execute against a live opponent,” Atkinson said. “We haven’t really game-planned for them at all, but I just want us to be fundamentally sound offensively. Defensively, I’m looking for us lining up in our correct formations and flying to the ball.”

Along with upping the speed of the game, Atkinson and the Broncos have practiced game situations all week with emphasis on the fundamentals and team enthusiasm.

Atkinson is looking forward to seeing how his team competes against an established program like Wakeland’s and fully expects to have a diagnosis of the team’s weaknesses after all is said and done.

“If you know it, it comes out,” Atkinson said of executing the game plan. “If you’re not sure what you’re doing, it comes out. We need to see if we have matured at all with not making foolish penalties. When you go against an opponent, especially a playoff team year in and year out like Frisco Wakeland, they are going to tell you what you need to work on. It’s going to be a good dress rehearsal. I’m really excited about it.”

With most scrimmages’ scores irrelevant, the Broncos lost last year’s scrimmage against Wakeland 30-14, but Atkinson is steadfast about his team improving week by week. He and his coaching staff will have their first litmus test of where the team is at with a week to go before the Broncos face their first opponent, Dallas Bishop Lynch, next Friday.

— Patrick Hayslip