Eagles favored again by two touchdowns
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Sept. 3, 2004 - COMO - For the second straight week, coach Joe Ryzman's Como-Pickton Eagles are favored to win by two touchdowns by the Harris Ratings system.

Coming off of a 60-0 win over the Rivercrest Rebels in Week Zero action, the Eagles (1-0) face another district 17-A opponent in the Celeste Blue Devils (0-1) tonight. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Celeste.

Celeste is coming off of a 29-13 loss to Blooming Grove, after making the playoffs with an 8-3 record last year. They also went a perfect 5-0 in district play.

C-P lost 13-10 last year against the Blue Devils, a game they were in control of until the final five minutes of the fourth quarter when Celeste running back Robert Cotten (5-5, 150) scored the game-winning touchdown.

Cotten wrapped up the 2003 season with 548 yards and four touchdowns and returns this season along with Eddie Ford in the Celeste backfield.

C-P is a 13-point favorite going into the game, but Ryzman said the coaching staff knows what could happen when they evaluate the team's film from the previous week's game.

"I don't read the Harris Ratings system, so therefore this is the first I have heard of it," Ryzman said. "Really, I have a better idea of how we are going to do in the games when I evaluate the teams film from the previous week and know where we are at."

Ryzman said this week's game will test the Eagles' pass defense because coach Mike Lipsey's team likes to throw the ball the majority of their time on offense.

"Celeste passes the ball a lot. Last week, they passed the ball about 58 percent of the time that they run offense, so I expect them to pass quite a bit," Ryzman said.

Quarterback Brandon Darter (5-9, 160) will be a player the Como-Pickton defensive unit will be focusing on throughout the game, according to Ryzman, after being the back-up to John Mark Barnard during last season for the Blue Devils.

Ryzman believes Celeste is a completely different offense from what they have seen the previous two weeks against Cumby and Rivercrest.

"We have seen some double tight end, run-oriented offenses the past couple of weeks, and now we are going to see a team that runs multiple formations and likes to pass the ball out of those formations," Ryzman said. "Therefore, we are going to have to be able to stop their passing game."

Ryzman said from what he saw on film, Celeste runs a 50 defense and they also will switch to a four man front at times during the game.

"Offensively, we will see about the same type of defensive fronts that we have seen the past couple of weeks, so we looked for areas this week in which we could exploit the weaknesses of their defense. They are not a whole lot different on defense from what we have seen," Ryzman said.

Celeste junior linebacker David Lakeman will anchor the defense after a sophomore season of 64 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks.

Ryzman said for the team to continue being successful they need to be able to avoid injuries this season with only 15 players on the varsity roster.

"I am only looking at one week at a time, and I have only been thinking about Celeste this week. The key for us is to avoid injuries, and I believe we have been doing everything else right," Ryzman said. "We just don't have any depth, and so we are going to have to just avoid injuries."

Ryzman said the Eagles have continued working on special teams and passing game practices for tonight's game, but one of the main areas they have worked on is the team's mental preparation for the game.

"I was very impressed with our passing game practices, especially Wednesday's. I can tell you that my kids have worked hard, their attitudes have been terrific, and they are mentally prepared to play tonight's game," Ryzman said.

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