CPHS coach expects tougher test from Rivercrest
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Aug. 26, 2005 - COMO - The preseason scrimmages are over and the games start to count for the Como-Pickton Eagles as they travel to Johntown tonight for a battle with the Bogata Rivercrest Rebels.

"I expect a good ball game tonight and if our kids execute well and play hard and we don't have any injuries during the course of the game, I think we have a great opportunity of winning that game," said CPHS head coach Joe Ryzman.

The Eagles are 27-point favorites, according to the Harris Rating System, but Ryzman knows those predictions are tough to look at since they don't look at the teams' current situation.

"The Harris Rating System never watches the film of Rivercrest before they make the predictions so those predictions are made on the history of the teams and not the talent or the coaching staff that they have in the year in which they play," the coach said.

"Rivercrest is a much better team than they were last year, and they are much more enthusiastic and disciplined. They have better athletes this year and they are not going to be the push over like every body thought that they were going to be."

In last year's season opener, the Eagles won 60-0 as Ray Hayden rushed for 107 yards and four touchdowns on 11 carries, part of C-P's 541 yards of total offense.

Ryzman said in the two scrimmages this season, Hayden has impressed him with his running style and against Rivercrest he needs to run the way he did against Cumby last week.

"We have stressed to Ray that he has the ability and can break tackles with the good strength that he has, and a lot of times he needs to quit looking for places to go and just hit inside the crease that he has and run hard," the coach said.

On offense, the Eagles look to senior Trent Vail to take over at quarterback after a 2004 season in which he lead the team in receptions (12) and yards (242), and Ryzman knows good things will come out of his quarterback.

"Trent has been a pleasure to coach because he is so coachable and he works at 110 percent all the time," Ryzman said. "I look for him to do some good things tonight. He is a very good athlete with a lot of ability."

Ryzman praised the workouts of Gerald Pierce, Josh Telfer and Salvador Mejia at wide receiver and said Vail is confident throwing to those three.

"We have some really good receivers out there that can catch the ball in Pierce, Telfer and Mejia have all looked good at receiver," he said.

With All-District returnees in Jake Needham, Bradley Rollen and Troy Morris coming back for Rivercrest, Ryzman said the game plan against the Rebels will be to make their offense run east-and-west instead of north-and-south.

"We are going to have to stop the Rivercrest offense by stretching them out, in other words they are going to play a smash-mouth style of football and they are going to run it right up inside the tackles," the coach said. "We are going to make sure they don't open up those holes in the middle and open up everything outside, and we will utilize our quickness."

In last year's matchup, Rollen ended the night with 55 yards on 19 carries, while Needham went five-of-seven for 59 yards with an interception for the Rebels.

Ryzman said Wednesday's practice was the best that he has seen from the Eagles this offseason and the kids handled the heat better than he expected them to as temperatures have been in the 100-degree range this week.

"The heat has been a big factor and I am sure that it has been for all of East Texas teams, but the kids have worked hard to overcome the heat and Wednesday was one of the best practices for us," he added. "The kids were enthusiastic and they looked much sharper this week."

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