Season starts anew for Eagles
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Nov. 12, 2004 - COMO - Saturday afternoon will be a whole new ball game for the Como-Pickton Eagles when bi-district round action begins in the Class 2A Division II state playoffs at Sam Parker Field in Mount Pleasant.

The Eagles, as the No. 3 seed in 17-2A (4-2 in district) will suit up against the No. 2 seed Omaha Paul Pewitt Brahmas (6-0 in District 18-2A) as both teams finished regular season play with identical 8-2 overall records.

After a 1-9 season last year under head coach Joe Ryzman in his first season, the only losses for the Eagles this season came against fellow playoff members in Quitman and Edgewood.

The previous three years, Como-Pickton made it into the playoffs only to be knocked out in the first round each year, and Ryzman hopes that scenario does not happen again this season.

"We have our hands full with Paul Pewitt and all of my focus has been on Paul Pewitt and containing the speed that they have over there. Their skill positions are very fast and their fullback is very powerful," Ryzman said. "I am just focusing on stopping Paul Pewitt offensively and being able to have our team move the ball well offensively, and we will worry about round two when round two gets here."

The winner of Saturday's contest will face the winner of the Hawkins Hawks (5-5) and the Garrison Bulldogs (9-1) match-up being played Saturday in Gladewater in the area round of the playoffs next week.

Paul Pewitt is led by juniors Teric Williams at quarterback along with running back Jessie Harrison for the majority of their offense, according to Ryzman, and they will be key players for the C-P defense to try and contain throughout the contest.

"You are going to try and contain those players, and you have got to stop the plays that they run and have success with, but just like our offense you don't contribute all of the success to just the running backs but a lot of success to the offensive line and the same goes for Paul Pewitt," Ryzman said.

Ryzman said he believes if C-P can stop their offensive line throughout the game then he feels that the Eagles will have a chance to pull out the victory even though the Harris Ratings has them as 21-point underdogs.

"Their offensive line is very quick off the line of scrimmage and very aggressive and a lot of the success that their skill kids have at Pewitt is because of their offensive line, so we have got to start with the offensive line and we have got to neutralize them in order to stop these guys," the coach said.

Last season, Williams passed only 62 times during an 8-5 regional finalist season and Ryzman knows from what he has seen on film that they will use their running game with three key players.

"They don't pass the ball much offensively and they run the ball a lot. They have three players that really carry the load for them - their slot back in Harrison, quarterback Williams, and their fullback," the coach said. "They will try to stretch it on the outside with their speed and then they will pound it up the middle with their fullback."

During the regular season, both teams averaged over 30 points per game with C-P putting up 36.2 ppg., while Pewitt averaged 33.2 ppg., and Ryzman believes the offense and defensive units will be able to do the job they have been doing throughout the year.

"Whether it is going to be an offensive shoot-out between two teams or a defensive struggle, that is really hard to say before you get into an actual ball game. You are playing a different opponent than you have been playing all year, but our defense has played tough all year and I expect them to play tough Saturday," the coach said. "Our offense has been able to move the ball all year and I expect the same thing out of them on Saturday."

The Eagles will have the duo of senior running back Tyrin Porter (163-1,452-17 TD) and junior Ray Hayden (95-1,053-18 TD) for the majority of their running game Saturday as they have taken on the load this season in the backfield.

Ryzman said from what he has seen on film, the Brahmas' defense is quick and their nose guard could cause problems Saturday for the CPHS offensive line.

Defensively, Paul Pewitt has given up 13.9 ppg. this season, and 12.5 ppg. in district play, while CPHS has given up 17.5 ppg. and 10.3 ppg. in district.

During the regular season, the Eagles had 21 turnovers and 66 penalties, and Ryzman said those areas need to be cut to a minimum for them to pick up the win and move on to the area round.

Quitman, as the Division I team in 17-2A, will play Hughes Springs tonight in bi-district action in Gladewater, while Edgewood, as the top seed in Division II, suits up against Linden-Kildare Saturday at 6 p.m. in Longview at Pine Tree High School.

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