|Rivercrest is C-P's first opponent|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
August 26, 2004 - COMO - After three previous trips to the state playoffs for the Eagles and the disappointment of last year, the journey back to a Class 2A playoff berth begins Friday night against the Rivercrest Rebels at Heflin Field.
Kickoff for the non-district opener is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Second-year coach Joe Ryzman and the Eagles look to improve on a 1-9 season in Ryzman's first year at the school, and injuries have already hit the 16-player roster.
"We have had some injuries. We have lost a player on the offensive line, and had to replace him this week," Ryzman said.
Last season, the Rebels went 0-10 in class 2A action under coach Gary Schultz, but Ryzman said he doesn't see that from the team this year.
"I expect a tough game. They are definitely not an 0-10 team from what I have seen on film. They are a team that is a year matured and a year better, and they have a lot of their players coming back," Ryzman said. "They are big, strong, and they are tough so it is going to be a physical game."
The Rebels return 16 starters with nine of them on the offensive side of the ball.
Junior Jake Needham will take over at quarterback for the Rebels after playing wide receiver last year for the team, while running back Matt Ross is considered a player to watch, according to Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine.
The Rebels are picked to finish the season fourth out of the seven teams in District 17-A by the publication.
Ryzman said he would like to see how Eagle quarterback Josh Biggerstaff handles the passing game Friday night against the Rebels since the team has been concentrating on the running attack during the preseason scrimmages.
Tyrin Porter, Ray Hayden and John Sullivan have impressed Ryzman this year in the running game as Ryzman believes Porter and Hayden will make up a running back tandem this year for the Eagles.
Porter and Sullivan are seniors, and Hayden is in his junior campaign for the Eagles.
Last Friday night, the Eagles wrapped up their preseason scrimmages with a 22-0 win over the Cumby Trojans allowing only 15 yards of offense in the game.
"We have been working on our offense, defense and special teams as well as getting our kids in shape," Ryzman said. "We need to get them stronger, faster and rehabilitate injuries before Friday night, so we have been doing all of that."
Ryzman said he believes the team needs to see a good passing team and to be able to see how his defense handles the passing game against Rivercrest.
"Defensively, I feel like we need to be contested in the passing game and hopefully we will be able to cover the pass well in the game," Ryzman said.
During the scrimmages, the coaching staff was not able to get a good look at the special teams unit, and Ryzman said special teams was a big area they worked on this week in practices.
"Our primary focus this week was to put in the rest of our special teams as well as trying to eliminate our mistakes on offense as well as defense. I am anticipating special teams because I won't know until we see Week One," Ryzman said.