Father Ryan’s football team can stop making 10 road trips each season.
The Irish started fall practice yesterday like other high schools around the state, but this year was different. There is even more motivation for the Purple and Silver this season.
“The school has waited so long for this, and there’s definitely an air of excitement at our school,’’ said fifth-year coach Bruce Lussier, whose school will play its first-ever home game Aug. 28 against Hillwood.
That comes after all 84 years of school history of having to play “home’’ games at other fields around town, among them Vanderbilt, Greer Stadium, nearby Overton, Bellevue Middle School and, early on, old West High.
Lussier and the Irish are having to start fall practice away from school, beginning Monday at Green Hills Park, behind Moore Middle School.
“One holdup is that the track isn’t completed,’’ said Lussier whose team’s two-a-day practices will have to continue behind Moore for at least the rest of this week and possibly next week, as well.
Lussier said the stadium seats 2,375 fans, and “we’re expecting an overflow crowd for that game,’’ he said. “You can look for a standing room only crowd.’’
“It’s going to be nice to play on our own field,’’ said senior quarterback Trey McPhail, one of the key Irish offensive returnees. “No more bus trips every Friday.’’
The school announced Monday that it will dedicate the Jim Carell Alumni Athletic Complex (including the football field) in a Saturday Night Lights celebration Aug. 8. The event will begin with a blessing by Bishop David Choby during a 4:30 p.m. mass and will include remarks by Mayor Karl Dean, Ryan president Jim McIntyre and principal Paul Davis.
The field represents the first on-campus athletic facility in school history.
As for football, Lussier said he expects his team to be picked to finish “somewhere in the middle of of the pack.’’ Last year, Ryan ended 5-5 overall and, at 1-5, in a tie for seventh in tough DII-AA East/Middle.
“We should be very competitive, we have some excellent skill people returning, but we’ll have a problem with depth. And we have to replace our entire starting backfield.’’
Wide receivers Tyler Kincaid and Jackson Coursey gives the Irish a solid corps of receivers McPhail can throw to.
“It’s going to be very exciting to get on our home field that first time,’’ McPhail said.
Ryan opens up at Overton Aug. 21.
NOTES FROM PRACTICE
At Montgomery Bell Academy Monday, coach Daniel McGugin said he thinks the Big Red’s ready, thanks to a jump-start.
“Even though this is the first official day of practice, it’s not in actuality. We’ve already gotten a idea on what we have with the 7-on-7 passing camps we’ve been to,” he said. “We’ve seen guys dedicated in the weight room and have built up strength. But when you put the pads on for the first time, you really find out who can play football.’’
McGugin said that 6-4, 210-pound senior Luke Colbert would be the starting quarterback, replacing graduated 2,000-yard passer Spencer Wise, who signed recently with Samford.
Also, leading receiver William Tanner returns. Both looked good in 7-on-7 drills.
MBA hosts Pearl-Cohn in the Clinic Bowl Kickoff Classic at 7 p.m. on Aug. 22.
Bobcats growling: At Overton, Coach Terry Anderson said, “it’s great to get started for real after all the summer workouts. We have to be careful with the heat, although (Monday) wasn’t too bad.’’
“You realize that first day how sloppy some of us have become, getting that first step down on blocking techniques, footwork, things like that.’’
Looking the 6A playoff picture, Anderson said, “whenever I talk to someone about who gets in, I get a slightly different answer than before,’’ he said. “I think we’re all in the dark to some degree, but if you go out and win games, you’ll be in good shape. That’s all we can control.’’
Anderson said senior Christian Dobbs was in line to play quarterback. The 5-11, 165-pound Dobbs, who played sparingly last year, replaces all-around Cole Patterson, who graduated. Jay Cook, who missed nearly all of last year with a separated shoulder, is expected to play tailback.
Burros kicking: Hillsboro spent a good deal of opening practice Monday working on kicking, including their extra point game, finding a replacement for accurate Jacob Noe.
One thing for sure going into the season is that standout passer Greg Young will again run the show over center for the defending 4A state champs.
“One thing I saw the first practice is that our linebackers will hit,’’ said new Burro Coach Dennis Moreno. “And, also that things look a little better here than I thought they would (considering several key graduation losses).’’
Hillsboro opens at Maplewood Aug. 21.
Metro Jamboree: The 41st Metro Jamboree will be held Aug. 13-15.
The first night is at Maplewood High (starting at 7 p.m.): Hunters Lane-Pearl-Cohn and Maplewood-Glencliff; second night at McGavock (6 p.m.): McGavock-Whites Creek, Hillwood-Lipscomb and Antioch-Stratford; third night at Overton (7 p.m.): Overton-Hillsboro and Cane Ridge-East Lit.
All segments are two quarters.
Goodpasture duo in NFL? Goodpasture has two graduates close to making NFL rosters — Marcus Buggs (Vanderbilt) for a second season with the Buffalo Bills and Patrick Turner (Southern Cal), who was a third round pick of the Miami Dolphins.
If both make their respective squads, Goodpasture will be the only school in the state with two former players on NFL rosters.