Leroy Ryals’ competitive nature is matched by his keen sense of humor. Both were on display at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
“They did everything they could to hold (running back Mario Cherry) down. They had about 15 people in the box,” Thomasville’s head coach joked after his team edged the Fitzgerald Purple Hurricanes 14-9 in a Region 1-AA game.
Even though they didn’t actually have four extra defenders, the Hurricanes kept the Bulldogs bottled up in the early going. Cherry, the Bulldogs’ offensive centerpiece, was limited to 15 yards on nine first-half carries. He entered the game with 975 yards and 12 touchdowns on 173 attempts
Poor field position and sloppy conditions were partly responsible for the slow start. Playing in steady rain, the Bulldogs started two first-half drives inside their 10. One began mere millimeters from the goal line.
Ryals opted to play it close to the vest until the field position improved. His playoff-bound team was down 9-0 at halftime.
“Our game plan was to throw the football — we’ve got to be able to throw the football to be successful — and that hurt us because of the conditions,” Ryals said. “They have no safeties back there. If we could have just completed a couple of those long passes, it would have been great.
“It would have helped open things up for Cherry.”
See Sunday's edition for more details