Bearcats host formidable Yellow Jackets this evening in scrimmage

MATCHUP: Ruston Bearcats vs. Byrd Yellow Jackets

WHERE/WHEN: Friday, 5 p.m. freshmen, 6 p.m. junior varsity and varsity, Hoss Garrett Stadium, Ruston HS

RECORDS: Preseason scrimmage.

LAST GAME: Last game was in the 2020 postseason for both teams. Ruston fell in the Class 5A quarterfinals by one score. Byrd lost the Division I state title game to Catholic (Baton Rouge), but CHS is forfeiting the game and Byrd will be named champions.

NOTES: The Bearcats will play two quarterbacks, starter Jayden Osborne and Dawson Willis, who will move in from his receiver spot…. the receivers have made a lot of plays in practice … Dyson Fields leads the tailback corps … the Bearcats are young at the outside linebacker and strong safety positions, and expect to rotate players for a while … inexperienced linebackers have pleased the coaching staff with their work ethic … the defensive line has been solid … Brady Beason is capably filling big shoes as the RHS kicker … the Bearcats will be without two top seniors, cornerback B.J. Green (lower back) and fullback Devian Wilson (foot), who are sidelined indefinitely … today’s scrimmage format will begin with a controlled number of snaps on each side of the ball, allowing everybody some action. The next phase will be two full contact, live halves of competition for freshmen and varsity. The Bearcats don’t game plan for their scrimmage or jamboree opponents, focusing instead on their own execution.

RUSTON COACH JARROD BAUGH SAYS: “It’s an opportunity to go out, line up and do the things we do. We can see how kids take in-game adjustments. What Byrd does offensively (Wing-T option game) is different and tough to defend even if you do game plan for it. Our kids will line up in our base defense and take on a scheme that ties your hands. Our coaches and kids will learn how to listen in the middle of a game, on the run in a hurry, take the coaching points and put them into action immediately. It’s a different form of practice for times when you get a wrinkle you haven’t seen on film, so the kids don’t panic.

“I’m a football coach, so there’s always room for improvement in every area, but I think our kids have for the most part have gone out every day trying to get better and being coachable. I believe we have the best two quarterbacks around. It’s been really nice to have Dawson to fill in; he gives us a taller look at the receivers and can run it really well.

“Not having (Green and Wilson) will hurt us early on this season, but it’ll be a great opportunity for develop some depth in those positions. When they’re able to jump back in there, it will make us stronger for the long run. They are getting ready to start for the third straight year and Devian was going to be a big piece of our offense, but we’ll just wait for them to get back into the mix and count on younger guys to step up in the meantime.”

NEXT UP: The Bearcats line up in jamboree competition next Saturday at ULM. Ruston comes home to kick off the regular season, hosting Neville Sept. 3.

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