Olive Branch jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. It looked like the Conquistadors look to have the game under control but Ridgeway took back the momentum with their efficient passing game and their offensive line's ability to keep Olive Branch's defensive line at bay.
Ridgeway got back in the game before halftime and closed the lead to 14-10 midway through the second quarter. From there it was a back and forth game with Olive Branch holding a 8-point lead until midway through the fourth quarter when they opened it up to a 16-point victory.
What We Learned
Going into the game it looked like a mismatch although Ridgeway entered the season as Tennessee's #4 preseason ranked team. Olive Branch was also a top 5 preseason team inside the Magnolia state. We thought that Olive Branch's line of scrimmage would take control of the game but it never transpired. You knew that Ridgeway would be talented at the skilled positions but their offensive line's ability to basically control the Conquistadors's defensive line was the sup rise of the game and kept them in the ball game.
We also learned that Olive Branch's quarterback, Ross Trail, is as good as advertised. Last season Ross starred at Wynne, Ark., before transferring to Olive Branch in the offseason.
There were several players off both squads that became unknowns to known commodities after their performances Friday night. Most notably was Olive Branch junior slot back Dontavis Bruce. The 5' 9" slot back flipped the game around after Ridgeway's defense had stalled Olive Branch's offense. The Conquistadors turned to Bruce as the focal point after Marcus Leflore was ineffective at tailback. Dontavis had well over 200 yards of offense and had several electrifying runs in the open field. He is a slasher and jukes and jives around defenders but he is as dangerous in routes as he is in the backfield. Keep an eye out for this young man as we have a sneaky feeling he is going to put up some monster numbers this season.
Olive Branch sophomore corner Sanchez Blake had the duties of covering Ridgeway's biggest threat on offense, WR Toreano Barnes, all night long. Blake has really good size, 5' 11", and can flip his hips and get to point A to point B in a hurry. We had heard that he was a budding star at the Hoover 7-on-7 tournament and they were correct. He will be one of Mississippi's top targets in the '16 class.
We briefly spoke about Ross Trail above but what stands out about the Olive Branch signal caller is his pocket awareness. He feels the pressure so nicely and makes one step to the left or right to void the pressure and never keeps his eyes off his receivers. He also had sneaky feet. Ross can run the read option very well and doesn't look fast on the hoof but has that Bo Wallace like speed. Long strides and can get down the field on you if you take your eyes off of him. He stands tall in the pocket and can really spin the ball. Trail has has a nice frame, look to be around 6' 3", 195-ish from the naked eye with plenty of room to grow.
Ridgeway has a junior defensive end named Terry Fults that is going to be a good one. He has the frame, 6' 4", 220ish, and is really quick off of the ball. Olive Branch has a strong offensive line led by Chris Phillips and Chase Johnson but Fults was able to disrupt the Conquistadors' passing game on several occasions. What also impressed us about Terry is his willingness to never pursuing the ball. There were several plays where he chased the running back or receiver 10-20 yards down the field to make a play. High motor prospect.
We mentioned Ridgeway receiver Toreano Barnes above but this guy is your typical Memphian with tons of athleticism and speed. He is very talented and made several eye popping plays on the field. He has that extra gear and the ability to stop and go in a hurry. If there was anything that he needs to improve on it is adjusting to the deep ball. Keep your ears open for this young man as he is a true sleeper.
There had been much talk about Olive Branch's tailback, Marcus Leflore, and how he was going to burst on to the scene this season at tailback after missing his junior campaign with an injury. He did make an impact in the game but it was at safety and not running back that he made his presence known. He was ineffective at tailback and Olive Branch had one of their safeties get hurt in the game so they moved Leflore to safety and he made his presence known in the secondary. It looked like his natural position as he played physical and much faster on defense than offense.
Old Stars Did Not Disappoint
Everybody knew about Olive Branch's linebacker duo of Alfred Dickens and Fred Walls as both had over a 100 tackles last season, but folks, they have taken their games to the next level. Alfred Dickens is the emotional leader for their entire team and has the leadership qualities that all teams covet, but it is not only his leadership skills that pop out. The Ole Miss commit is a monster on the defensive side of the ball. He plays as physical as anyone you will see at 6' 0", 195-pounds. On two separate plays he hit someone so hard that it knocked his and the opponents helmet off. Alfred is like a missile and played deep in the "outfield" on several alignments and would come in at a 100 miles an hour and just knock the snot out of the ball carrier. What makes him unique is his ability to cover. He can drop back in coverage and stay man-on-man with the skilled players. He has that "Antonio Conner" look to him. Head coach Scott Samsel said he was the second best player in Mississippi last season to Tony Conner and now we see why.
Junior linebacker Fred Walls is a monster in the middle of the defense for Olive Branch. He is very active and flies all over the field but does his best work between the tackles. The 6' 2", 230-pouinder will most likely play middle linebacker on the next level. Fred will be one of the more coveted players inside Mississippi next season and already holds a few early BCS offers.
Memphis commit DE Chris Matthews sustained a concussion in the first quarter and did not return the game. Chris will most likely have to miss the next game but should be good to go shortly thereafter. Matthews is another true sleeper out of Mississippi and has the body and athleticism to make a fine player on the next level.
Summery From Scott Samsel
The Olive Branch head coach took a few minutes with us after the game to go
over the contest. Click below to see what he had to say about the game and some
of the players that we went over above.
Olive Branch vs Memphis Ridgeway Photo Gallery