Three Takes: Ryan-Rockwall

Ryan running back Maurice Gordon and the rest of the Raiders lost to Rockwall in the season opener on Friday night. (For the Denton Record-Chronicle/Maegan Puetz)

Nobody really knew what to expect when Ryan stepped onto the turf at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex for the season opener.

This year’s version of the Raiders looked completely different from the squad Ryan fielded the previous two seasons.

A new head coach, a freshman quarterback and an influx of underclassmen were all making their Ryan varsity debuts, adding to the normal excitement the first game of the season. Ryan lost to Rockwall 21-13 in Friday night’s season opener, but the game offered a glimpse into what to expect this season.

We’ll add a new staple on the blog this season with a Saturday morning with a few quick takes from the previous night with Three Takes. Take a seat, grab some coffee and let’s look back at last night’s game.

 

1. Ryan defense has flaws, but shows promise

Coming into the game, the keys to stopping Rockwall were fairly obvious — stop wide receiver Xavier Castille and running back Chris Warren. And they were as good as advertised.

For most of the game, the Raiders did that. Castille and Warren did most of their damage in the fourth quarter. Warren helped take time off the clock and Castille had two big third-down runs in addition to his 70-yard touchdown reception.

Like Ryan head coach Dave Henigan said last night, big plays hurt the Raiders the most. Other than that, Ryan’s defense contained the Yellowjackets. In the third quarter, Ryan kept the ball away from Rockwall and the defense didn’t let Rockwall do much.

The defensive line had some strong moments and sophomore linebacker Tyreke Davis showed some promise as well.

The secondary struggled the most last night. All three touchdowns came on long throws by Rockwall junior quarterback Will Reed, and all three were results of wide receivers getting behind the Ryan defense.

But Ryan’s defensive backs, like the rest of the Raiders’ defense, made plays that signaled signs of potential for the rest of the season.

 

2. Maurice Gordon could be in for a special year

Gordon’s been on varsity for three years, but he’s never fully had the chance to shine. He was injured his sophomore year and was Tyrone Williams’ back-up his junior year before he became

the featured tailback this season.

And Ryan head coach Dave Henigan featured Gordon early and often. You had to imagine Rockwall knew the Raiders were going to run the ball a lot, but Gordon still took advantage of huge holes from the offensive line and ended up with 23 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown.

There was a tense moment late in the third quarter when Gordon went down after a carry and stayed on the turf for a few moments. It ended up being just a cramp, but it limited Gordon’s action in the fourth quarter, where he wasn’t as effective.

If Gordon continues the pace he set against Rockwall, it’ll make freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders’ job that much easier.

 

3. Texas, meet Spencer Sanders

Speaking of Sanders, his debut last night was second biggest of the evening, jumping right behind the debut of his head coach. He ended up going 8-of-14 for 49 yards. His biggest error came in the second quarter. He was fighting off tacklers for a few more yards and the ball was stripped from his arms before he went to the ground. You could tell he was pretty unhappy with himself, something Henigan said was a sign of maturity.

He made a couple strong throws — emphasis on “strong”— that ended up being dropped by his wide receivers. Sanders was not asked to do anything extraordinary in his first high school game.

Rockwall head coach Rodney Webb said Sanders certainly didn’t look like a freshman.

I know a lot of people are talking about Guyer sophomore Shawn Robinson, but don’t sleep on the quarterback across town.

Now I understand why so many people were talking about Sanders over the summer. He has a chance to be a really special player.

 

Next up for Ryan: at Hebron, Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m. 

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