|Eagles open District 17-2A play against Grand Saline|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
Sept. 23, 2005 - COMO - The games start to count for the Como-Pickton Eagles as District 17-2A play begins tonight at Ron Heflin Field.
Como-Pickton is currently 2-2 on the season after a 58-13 win over the Collinsville Pirates last week and coach Joe Ryzman said the players stepped up this week during practice.
"Like I told the kids last week, we needed to have three really good practices this week going into this week's district play and the kids stepped up and did that," the coach said. "We cut down a lot of mental mistakes and was able to get Garold Pierce a lot of reps at quarterback, which he needed that, and he has shown a lot of signs of improvement this week."
For the second straight game, Pierce is taking over for starting quarterback and free safety Trent Vail, who suffered a lower leg injury on the first series against Harmony two weeks ago.
"We are still waiting for Trent's doctor's appointment next week to see how they can further evaluate his lower left leg and he could possibly return next week at Quitman," Ryzman said.
The Indians come into tonight's district opener at 0-4 on the season and have been outscored 106-21 in those four games, but Ryzman believes Grand Saline will come ready to play.
"Grand Saline is a very good 0-4 team and they have played two 3A teams and they have played two 2A teams that are playoff caliber teams," the coach said. "They are a team that no one in our district can take lightly this season."
The Harris Ratings Poll picked Grand Saline as 14-point favorites for tonight's contest and Ryzman knows the caliber of teams the Indians have played gives them the edge for the district opener.
"Because of the teams that Grand Saline has played this season, and I am sure that the teams that Grand Saline has played have probably been ranked high, that has helped their ratings," he said.
Junior Corey Fowler will be a player to watch for the Indians as he is the starting quarterback, while teammate Troy Carroll will start at running back.
"An offense like Grand Saline will maybe switch some personnel and it is possible that they may have thrown in some new formations or a few new plays for us," the coach said. "Defensively, we are going to have to control the line of scrimmage and not give up the big play offensively."
The Eagles' offensive line of Clayton Humphrey, Cameron Crump, Alex Mowat, Reece Caddell and Wade Arnold will need to continue their strong play according to Ryzman in order for Ray Hayden to continue his record-breaking running performance.
"Offensively, we are going to once again have to control the line of scrimmage and stay with our blocks long enough for Ray to have a good night," he said.
Hayden comes into the game with 1,008 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns after four games. He ran for 95 yards in a 32-20 win last year at Grand Saline.
Ryzman said with Vail out of the lineup this week that the team will find ways to compensate for him on both sides of the ball and increasing their intensity in the 17-2A opener will hopefully lead to a 1-0 start in district play.
"The biggest concern is we need to be able to compensate for the loss of Trent at this point and to work on our offense and know that we can still be successful scoring," the coach said. "The other one is to increase our intensity on both sides of the ball and play four quarters and not just two quarters of football during district play."