A game that wasn’t originally on Ranburne’s schedule could end up costing the team dearly when it comes to its chances of success this season.
The only good news out of Friday night for the Bulldogs was that they are now 1-0 in region play thanks to a forfeit by Vincent.
Because Vincent backed out of that game, Ranburne replaced it with a contest against Cleveland, which Ranburne lost 35-7.
But more costly than a lopsided score in a game that doesn’t count was the injuries of two vital Ranburne players, one on each side of the ball.
All-state defensive lineman Carson Hall injured his hip and will miss at least four weeks, and maybe longer, depending on the severity of the injury. Then quarterback Jaxon “Slap” Langley suffered a concussion in the first half and will miss at least one week while he recovers.
“Two of our best. Slap makes the offense go, and Carson makes the defense go. So it’s a pretty rough situation right now,” said Ranburne head coach Stephen Bailey.
The potential long-term loss of Hall, the team’s strongest player and best overall defender, leaves a gaping hole on the line of scrimmage for Ranburne.
The Bulldogs won’t have Langley for this week’s region contest against RCHS, but Bailey said he should be cleared for the following week’s game against B.B. Comer.
The nature of the game – a contest that Ranburne was not required to play after the Vincent forfeit – lends itself to some second guessing as to whether Ranburne’s most valued players should have been in harm’s way.
“We didn’t have to be there obviously, but at the same time you’re trying to get games in for experience,” Bailey said. “Obviously we need that, we’re so young. And then just for the kids to play. We had an opportunity to play, so I wanted to play it.”
He said the game was fairly evenly matched prior to the injuries, but the loss of those two players had a deflating effect on the team’s morale and the game spiraled out of control.
“When those two injuries happened we didn’t handle it real well as the rest of the team,” Bailey said. “The adversity popped up and we kind of laid down and let it get out of hand.”
Langley’s injury means that backup quarterback Shaun Swofford, an eighth grader, will get the start Friday against RCHS.
Swofford played in Langley’s absence against Cleveland.
“He came in Friday night and did a good job of managing things,” Bailey said. “He did throw an interception. But he’s an eighth grader. He’s going to make mistakes. I thought he handled himself really well, so he’s going to get to try it again. That’s all we got.”
Since the game was not an official contest, Bailey did not keep his stats.
“I threw those suckers away,” he joked.
So Swofford’s performance Friday can’t be quantified. But he was 1-for-3 for seven yards in limited mop-up duty through the first two games this year.
Without Langley or Hall, Bailey is looking for his team to show its heart when they return to play Friday.
“The deal to me is, when you’re in a situation like we’re going to be in Friday night with probably less talent, like we were in Friday night with less talent, you’ve got to respond the right way. I can handle getting beat. I can’t handle laying down though,” Bailey said.