The move down to Class C for the Ryan Cowboys could not have come at a better time.
The Cowboys have battled a numbers problem the past two seasons and went into a couple of games in 2019 with only one or two players on the sideline.
But some talented players returning from 2019, the Cowboys hope the move to Class C will be a profitable one.
The 2020 season gets underway Friday as the Cowboys travel to Bray to face the Bray-Doyle Donkeys. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
While the Cowboys have won the past 16 meetings with the Donkeys, there have been some very competitive games – especially the past two seasons.
The Cowboys will feature one of the top players in Class C at the quarterback spot in Grayson Tomberlin, who has directed the Cowboy offense in each of the past three seasons.
However, Tomberlin was hurt in the only scrimmage held by the Cowboys and will likely miss most of the non-district schedule for the Cowboys.
Racen Williams, a freshman, will get the nod at the quarterback position for the season opener.
“He can do a good job for s and is pretty athletic,” said third-year coach Tony Tomberlin.
One of the best linemen in Class C returns at center for the Cowboys in Trey Bryant. Bryant has been a three-year starter for the Cowboys.
Joining Bryant on the offensive line are returning starter Mike Regher and newcomer Clayton Applin.
There are still some question marks for Coach Tony Tomberlin and assistants Tony Roberts, Kenny Barnes and Zak Roberts.
The Cowboys will have to find a replacement for graduated senior Andrew Villerreal at the running back position and the defense will feature players in some new positions than what they have played before.
And, numbers will still be an issue for the Cowboys even against Class C competition.
Ryan has 12 players out for football and can ill afford a series of injuries. If that happens, the 2020 season that seems so promising could end abruptly.
Caleb Perrin returns for the Cowboys at fullback. Ethan Burden will see action in the backfield in the Cowboys’ new offense for 2020.
The Cowboys will be talented at the receiver positions. Julian Rodriguez will be the wide receiver, while Skyler Wickware and Mason Adsit will man the tight end positions.
“Offensively, we will be OK, but defense will be a question mark,” coach Tomberlin reflected. “But, the defense really played well in our scrimmage at Wilson.”
Bryant will return at nose guard and Adsit and Regher will be at the defensive end positions.
Perrin will man the middle linebacker spot with Williams and Wickware at the other linebacker positions.
Burden and Rodriguez will be counted on in the defensive backfield for the Cowboys.
“This is group may be the most fun group I have coached,” coach Tomberlin noted.
“We have good chemistry and they really get along well,” coach Tomberlin added. “They work hard and do everything we have been asking them to do and that will lead to success.”
The district competition will be top heavy, but the Cowboys could challenge for the title or the runner up spot which would feature a home playoff game.
Mountain View-Gotebo is the consensus favorite to win the district title and Maysville will be in the thick of things as well.
The other teams in the district will present a challenge to the Cowboys because with the lack of numbers, the Cowboys are not likely to dominate any team on the schedule.
The Cowboys were ranked 12th in The Daily Oklahoman’s preseason poll.
Here’s a preview of the 2020 Cowboy opponents:
Coach: Marcus Knight, 3rd year (5-16)
Last Year’s Record: 2-8
Preseason Ranking: Not ranked; 4th or 6th in District B-4
Last Playoff Appearance: 2018, lost to Snyder, 62-12 in the first round of the Class B playoffs
Last Meeting: Ryan 30, Bray-Doyle 14, in 2019
First Meeting: Ryan 21, Bray-Doyle 0, in 1977
Series Record: Ryan leads, 22-3.
Zero Week Result: lost to Maysville, 38-0
PREVIEW: While the record for 2019 did not reflect it, the Donkeys put an improved product on the field. With eight starters returning on offensive for Bray-Doyle, the outlook is optimistic after winning only 16 games over the past 12 seasons. Five of the eight returning starters are juniors. Tyler Anderson will likely lead the offensive attack for the Donkeys. The senior running back rushed for 973 yards a year ago. The Donkeys have a legitimate shot at the playoffs for the first time since 2004 and this will be a good test for the Cowboys in the season opener.
Coach: David Ellis, 1st year
Last Year’s Record: 1-9
Preseason Ranking: Not ranked; 6th or 7th in District C-1
Last Playoff Appearance: 2016, lost to Depew, 42-20, in Class B Quarterfinals
Last Meeting: N/A
First Meeting: N/A
Series Record: This will be the first meeting between the two schools.
PREVIEW: The Bison return five players on offense and three starters on defense and will be looking to improve from the 1-9 mark in each of the past two seasons. The Bison will be learning a new offensive scheme and a new defensive system, but with the returning experience for the Bison, they should pick things up quickly.
at Central High
Coach: Gerald White, 1st year
Last Year’s Record: 4-6
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked; 6th in District B-3
Last Playoff Appearance: 2019, lost to Burns Flat-Dill City, 54-6, in first round of Class B playoffs.
Last Meeting: Central High 56, Ryan 20, in 2019
First Meeting: Ryan 50, Central High 0 in 1978
Series Record: Central High leads the series, 23-14.
Zero Week Result: defeated Paoli, 48-12
PREVIEW: The Bronchos face somewhat of a rebuilding year in 2020 and they will do it with a new first-year coach in Gerald White. White brings a wealth of experience, however, as he has been an assistant at Tipton the past few years and was part of the Tigers’ recent success. Quarterback Payton Spencer, who was a starter as a freshman a year ago, will head the offensive attack for the Bronchos. Three returning senior starters on offense will give Spencer some experience around him. Jax Hansen will spearhead the defense. The 5-10, 175-pound senior was a two-way starter last year for the Bronchos. This will be an excellent test for the Cowboys in a final tuneup before district play begins.
Coach: Hunter McCage, 3rd year (1-19)
Last Year’s Record: 0-10
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked; 6th or 7th in District C-2
Last Playoff Appearance: 2017, lost to Pond Creek-Hunter, 48-0, in the first round of the Class C playoffs
Last Meeting: Ryan 40, Thackerville 8 in 2017
First Meeting: Ryan 44, Thackerville 18 in 1980
Series Record: Ryan leads the series, 21-9.
PREVIEW: The Wildcats have fallen on hard times the past two seasons as they have won only one of the past 20 contests. The two tough seasons followed seven straight years of playoff appearances for the Wildcats. Six starters return on offense for the Wildcats including sophomore running back Lucas Rickwa. Lucas Scarborough, a 6-2, 225-pound junior, will return at quarterback. His targets will likely be 6-2, 165-poound Blayne Giourgus and Brady Pendargraft, a 6-4, 155-pound junior. Six starters also return on defense where quickness will be the strength of the Wildcats on that side of the ball. The Cowboys will need a strong performance to open the district slate on a successful note.
Coach: Jeff Coakley, 4th year (18-15)
Last Year’s Record: 8-3
Preseason Ranking: Class C: VYPE (3rd), The Tulsa World (2nd); The Daily Oklahoman (6th); 1st in District C-2
Last Playoff Appearance: 2019, lost to Timberlake, 28-24, in the first round of the Class C playoffs.
Last Meeting: Mt. View-Gotebo 64, Ryan 36, in 2015
First Meeting: Ryan 47, Mt. View-Gotebo 14 in 1990
Series Record: Ryan leads, 10-6
PREVIEW: The Tigers will try to build on last year’s 8-3 campaign and are predicted to do exactly that as they have been tabbed as the favorites in District C-2. Heading the bevy of experience returning for the Tigers is Rylan Belcher, a 5-8, 180-pound junior who had 1,110 yards passing a year ago. He added 1,305 yards rushing and scored 21 touchdowns. All of the returning starters for the Tigers are juniors or seniors. Two talented defensive ends, Connor Leiphardt and Jarrett Butler, will anchor the defense that will feature quite a bit of speed. The Tigers were ranked second in The Tulsa World’s Class C preseason poll. If the Tigers can avoid the injury bug, they could make a deep run into the Class C playoffs.
Coach: Lance Sumner, 1st year
Last Year’s Record: 2-8
Preseason Ranking: Not ranked; 5th or 6th in District C-2
Last Playoff Appearance: 2018, lost to Pond Creek-Hunter, 54-8, in the Class C semifinals
Last Meeting: Ryan 40, Paoli 0 in 2009
First Meeting: 6-6 tie in 1966
Series Record: Ryan lead the series, 20-12-1
Zero Week Result: Lost to Central High, 48-12
PREVIEW: It has been over a decade since these two teams have met on the gridiron, but the Pugs will pose threat to the Cowboys’ chances of making the playoffs. After two very successful seasons in which Paoli was 18-6, the Pugs slipped to just 2-8 in 2019. Four starters are set to return for the Pugs on offense and while Paoli will feature a lot of young players, the quarterback is the most experienced position with Chase Parker directing the Pugs’ attack. He threw for 987 yards a year ag and added 623 yards rushing. Andrew Finley should be the ringleader on defense from the defensive end position. He had 78 tackles for the Pugs last season. The Cowboys cannot afford a lost to the Pugs if they hope to make a playoff appearance in 2020.
October 15: Maysville
Coach: Dace Lemieux, 3rd year (11-11)
Last Year’s Record: 7-4
Preseason Ranking: Class C: VYPE (7th); The Daily Oklahoman (10th); 2nd or 3rd in District C-2
Last Playoff Appearance: 2019, lost to Waynoka, 52-28, in first round of Class C playoffs
Last Meeting: Maysville 54, Ryan 8 in 2019
First Meeting: Ryan 6, Maysville 0, in 1949
Series Record: Ryan leads, 4-3.
Zero Week Result: defeated Bray-Doyle, 38-0
PREVIEW: The Warriors have an abundance of talent coming back for the 2020 season after a 7-4 campaign in 2019. The Warriors have made the playoff in five of the past six seasons and are hoping for a deep run in the post-season for 2020. Noah Chambers, a senior, returns to direct the Warriors on offense. He will have a veteran running back to hand the ball to in Gunner Chambers. Brodie Albright, a 6-6, 285-pound senior defensive end figures to be the top defender for the Warriors. He had 80 tackles and 10 sacks a year ago. If the Cowboys want to contend for the district title, this will be a key contest on the schedule.
Coach: Barry Giles, 2nd Year
Last Year’s Record: Did not play season
Preseason Ranking: Not ranked; 8th in District C-2
Last Playoff Appearance: 2012, lost to Forgan, 64-0, in first round of Class C playoffs.
Last Meeting: Ryan 46, Temple 0, in 2018 before last year’s forfeit by Temple
First Meeting: Temple 35, Ryan 0, in 1921
Series Record: Temple leads, 49-32-5
PREVIEW: Hopefully the Tigers can return to the gridiron in 2020 after sitting out the 2019 season. Before that, the Tigers had suffered through back-to-back 0-10 seasons – and one of those seasons included four forfeits. Temple has not played a football game since October of 2018. The Tigers will be young and inexperienced and it could be another tough season for Temple.
October 30: Grandfield
Coach: Darren Lamar, 3rd year (4-15)
Last Year’s Record: 3-7
Preseason Ranking: Not ranked; 7th or 5th in District C-2
Last Playoff Appearance: 2017, lost to Tyrone, 76-30 in first round of Class C playoffs.
Last Meeting: Ryan 66, Grandfield 20 in 2019
First Meeting: Ryan 12, Grandfield 6 in 1923
Series Record: Grandfield leads, 36-25-5
PREVIEW: The Cowboys have had their way with the Bearcats the past two seasons, but Grandfield always poses a threat because they consistently have team speed and 2020 figures to be no different. Blake Houston returns at running back to provide a threat any time he touches the ball. Ethan Hammer, a junior quarterback, is small but has some ability. Defense may be the strong part of the Bearcats in the upcoming season with four starters returning. The Bearcats have not had a winning season since 2016 and with the inexperience of the 2020 squad, it figures to be another tough season. The Cowboys cannot afford an upset in this contest.
Coach: Brent Phelps, 12th season (85-41)
Last Year’s Record: 3-6
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked; 3rd in District C-2.
Last Playoff Appearance: 2017, lost to Carnegie, 62-16, in first round of Class B playoffs
Last Meeting: Ryan 42, Fox 6 in 2017
First Meeting: Ryan 20, Fox 6 in 1933
Series Record: Fox leads the series, 15-10-3
PREVIEW: Fox will be looking to rebound from a disappointing season in 2019 and will be the Cowboys’ chief competitor for a playoff spot in District C-2. The Foxes will have experience on their side as they return six players on offense including talented senior tight end Robert Davis. Davis will likely be the top target of returning quarterback Hawk Anderson and he will be a key blocker for returning senior running back Blain Anderson. Six starters also return on the defensive side of the ball. Davis figures to be a problem whether he plays linebacker or defensive end for the Foxes. This final game of the regular season could decide the third and fourth positions in the district.