Eagles homecoming brings back familiar face to starting lineup
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Oct. 7, 2005 - COMO - This weekend is homecoming at Como-Pickton, and the Eagles are once again without the services of senior running back Ray Hayden against the Alba-Golden Panthers.

After Hayden's suspension due to disciplinary reasons last week before the Quitman game, the C-P backfield once again has Bryan Hicks and Kaleb Mosley and returns a familiar face to the starting lineup.

Senior quarterback and free safety Trent Vail returns under center after a lower left leg injury had him out for three weeks, and coach Joe Ryzman said his return comes at the perfect time.

"Trent has been taking snaps all this week and he is back in the lineup as quarterback and free safety," Ryzman said. "The passing game looked really good this week and that was a good thing.

"Defensively, he hasn't missed a step since he left, and he remembers all of the coverages. He will make a big impact and it is good to have him back."

Vail is currently second on the team in rushing with 204 yards on 29 totes with a 7.3 yards-per-carry average after three weeks of being out of the lineup. He leads the team in passing at 10-of-22 for 88 yards with one touchdown and one interception in three games.

Ryzman said due to the adversity the team faced last week before the 47-0 loss to Quitman, the players gave it all they had during that game.

"I was really pleased with the way that the kids played against Quitman last week as far as rising above the absence of two of their teammates and playing well," he said.

CPHS (2-4 overall, 0-2 in district) comes into tonight's contest as 19-point favorites by the Harris Ratings Poll, and Ryzman said the Panthers (0-1, 0-5) are better than their past teams. The game will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Ron Heflin Field.

"Alba-Golden has one of the best teams that I have seen from them in the past three years of coaching against them," the coach said. "Offensively, they found an offense that really works well for them which is the option and that is the extent of their offense."

On the defensive side of the ball, Alba-Golden runs a 5-3 defense and Ryzman said if the Eagles can pick up their defensive schemes, the offense should be able to control the ball for four quarters.

"Defensively, they run a 5-3 defense and they like to bring their linebackers quite a bit on stunts. So, we are going to have to be able to pick up their blitz, and we should be OK if we do that," Ryzman said.

With four games remaining in the regular season, the Eagles could finish District 17-2A play at 4-2, which would give them a reasonable shot of getting back into the Class 2A playoffs after a 4-2 third place finish last year in district play.

Ryzman said the team is focused on that goal and tonight's game against Alba-Golden could get the team in the right direction going into their bye week.

"We haven't lost focus of our original goals and the kids still want to make the playoffs and they are working hard toward that goal," the coach said. "This win is important for us to get a win and not just this win, but every win because they are all important."

The remainder of the District 17-2A schedule has a battle of undefeated teams in the Caddo Mills Foxes (2-0) hosting the Quitman Bulldogs (2-0), while the Grand Saline Indians at 1-1 in district play travel to the 1-0 Lone Oak Buffaloes. Edgewood has a bye and will travel to Grand Saline next Friday.

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