Well, they say to be the best, you have to play the best and that is exactly what Royse City did as they jumped right into the Class 4A waters with both feet. There was no testing the waters, no toe dipping to make sure it was not too hot, it was sink or swim from day one and the dog paddling began in zero week as the Bulldogs hosted the Mesquite Poteet Pirates.
Poteet was winless in 2009, but this is 2010 and that was not about to be the case again this year. Poteet won this one 40-19, but the Bulldogs were trailing 22-13 at the half and were in it all the way.
Poteet is now playing for the second week in the playoffs and they have a 9-2 season record. They also are a top 10 area football team.
Week two came around and the Bulldogs went on the road for the first time. The Frisco Raccoons were not expected to field one of their better teams in 2010 and still suffering from a let-down loss in week zero, the Bulldogs would not play up to their capabilities and they took a 22-7 thumping.
Next up was the ‘Angry Orange’ from Rockwall and the Bulldogs had to travel to the Yellowjacket’s renovated stadium to challenge their cross county rivals. This time the Bulldogs were up for the task and were beginning to find their groove as Royse City jumped out to a 15-14 first half lead. However, Rockwall’s passing attack caught on fire and they took advantage of a Bulldog miscue to escape with a 41-29 win.
By this time the Bulldogs are getting very hungry for their first win and they come back home to host the Frisco Liberty Redhawks. A furious second half comeback by the Bulldogs came up short and that elusive win escaped again as Liberty also escaped with a 34-24 victory.
Going into District 13-4A play without a win played on the minds of the Bulldogs as they took the three-hour bus ride to Texarkana to take on the legendary Texas High Tigers and at Grim Stadium, the site where some of the most prolific Texas High School football games have ever been played. Texas High took no prisoners as they took advantage of the new kids on the block with a 56-0 initiation into East Texas football.
The biggest loss that night however was the loss of senior defensive end Ryon Phillips. Preliminary reports said that the Bulldog leader would miss the remainder of the season.
Denison came to Royse City ISD Stadium and by this time the Bulldogs were battle tested and maturity began to produce positive effects in the Royse City game plan. Jonathon Burns rattled off 215 yards and scored four touchdowns as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 29-14 halftime lead. The Bulldogs also posted 515 yards of offense against the hapless Yellowjackets as they coasted to and celebrated a very decisive 35-21 victory.
With a little momentum the Bulldogs boarded the bus for Sherman and the Bearcats were on a roll. Sherman also was enjoying the fruits of their best season in a quarter of a century. Royse City would not be considered a bump in the road for the highly favored Sherman Bearcats. As a matter of fact they were more like an enormous pothole that nearly swallowed the Bearcats whole. The Royse City faithful saw the best game of the year as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 28-21 lead that they would keep until just over seven minutes remained in the game. A couple of questionable penalties lit up the Sherman running game and then the Bearcats scored three unanswered touchdowns to win a game that they did not really deserve to win. Jonathon Burns would post 220 all purpose yards and score a touchdown to leave Sherman scratching their head as to what had just hit them.
The Bulldogs were now in a must win situation to return to the playoffs. Greenville was suffering from some serious discipline problems and the Bulldogs found themselves pouncing on top of the Lions for a 49-14 win. Royse City’s reserves played most of the second half as a merciful coaching staff called off the dogs when it was obvious the game was well in hand.
And then it came down to one more win and the Bulldogs were in. Royse City had to travel to Mount Pleasant to seal their quest for post season play. It was J.R. Arredondo to the rescue when he stripped the Tigers quarterback of the ball in the final minutes of the game to sock away the 24-19 playoff securing win.
Now the Bulldogs were playing for seeding positions in the playoffs with one game still on the 2010 season schedule. Sulphur Springs came to Royse City for that final game and they also were playing for second place. With Sulphur Springs still featuring players from their 2008 State Championship football team, they came in on the Bulldogs Senior Parent night and strolled away with a 56-22 victory.
The Bulldogs still celebrated, because for the second time in just three years of class 4A football, Royse City was returning to the playoffs.
Ryon Phillips will remember this year for the rest of his life. When he left the field at Grim Stadium in Texarkana about six weeks ago, he thought he was done and that he had played his last down for the Royse City Bulldogs. But Ryon Phillips epitomized this senior class and their character.
Ryon beat the odds of never playing again for the Bulldogs. As a matter of fact he beat those odds by a good two weeks as he came back and played in the last game of the season and then fulfilled his dream of going to the playoffs.
Twenty three seniors got the job done this year. I don’t need to mention each one individually like I did Ryon, but I can tell you this, that they all are leaders of men. That they all know it does not matter where you begin, or the trip along the way, but it matters most where you finish.