2-7 is not the way new coach Jamie Cruce wanted to begin his career at Pratt High School, but sometimes you just gotta play the cards you get dealt.
2-7 is not the way new coach Jamie Cruce wanted to begin his career at Pratt High School, but sometimes you just gotta play the cards you get dealt. Due to numbers, it was going to be a team without an overabundance of upperclassmen with maturity and leadership anyway, and when tragedy removed the projected starting quarterback just prior to the start of the season, that was a recipe for disaster. “We played a number of younger players and players without much varsity experience,” Coach Cruce explained. “While we had some real quality seniors, the class was rather small in numbers.” The Greenbacks were able to rally using emotion and win their first two games against Nickerson and Haven, but then the tougher stretch of schedule came, and the defeats began to snowball as Pratt dropped their final 7 games to go 2-7 and miss the playoffs. The Frogs were plagued for most of the season by an inability to sustain offense. They found it especially challenging to pick up yardage on the ground. As a result, the defense was on the field too much. The D was able to come up big at times during the season, but eventually got exposed through overwork. Another detrimental tendency for PHS was to have brief letdown stretches that allowed the opponent to rack up big points in a short amount of time. On several occasions, the Frogs saw games slip away in just a minute or two of clock-time due to the other team making big plays and/or capitalizing on Greenback miscues. Another factor working against the Greenbacks was that traditionally weaker opponents like Lyons, Kingman and Larned all fielded unexpectedly strong teams this season—making the schedule tougher than it might have appeared on paper early on. Drew Dobbs, Shawn Ramos, Cesar Regalado, Ryan Landry, Bryson Cruz, Brett Forshee, John Hurt and Taylor White comprise the group who will be graduating this year. “Whenever a group puts their heart and soul into a program for four years, there is a bittersweet feeling when they are done,” Cruce said of his departing seniors. “We are looking forward to having them move on and be successful with whatever endeavors they pursue, but we will also miss their contributions and leadership. This group went through the process of being coached by three different head coaches so I really appreciate how they handled adversity and kept battling. That will pay off for them down the road when they are faced with adversity in their lives.” All-CKL North nods were awarded to five Greenbacks. Jerod Theis was a unanimous selection at defensive line as was Shawn Ramos at wide receiver. (Ramos broke the career receiving record at PHS this year.) Taylor White was a 1st team pick at offensive line and Brett Forshee (OL) and Bryson Cruz (DL) picked up honorable mentions. The Greenbacks showed improvement toward the end of the season, coinciding with the offense starting to find a groove. Junior QB Brandon Ruckle began to pile up yardage with his legs. That seemed to let RB Cesar Regalado find more running room as well. That seemed to open up the passing lanes for receivers like Shawn Ramos, Derek Barnard and Ryan Landry. The Frogs hung with Ulysses until 5 minutes left in the first half, and they were ahead of Larned in the season finale in the 4th quarter. In both games, the offense had put together some of the year's best-looking drives. So the effort was there, the improvement was there—there was just too much stacked against the Greenbacks this season. “While our win/loss record was not where we want it, we felt as though our kids bought into what we were doing,” Coach Cruce analyzed.”We will bring back the majority of our players which, with some hard work on their part, should be a major positive as we move forward.” “We will evaluate where we need to make adjustments and what things we feel good about continuing within our program,” Cruce continued. “That is an every-year occurrence, but something that we are looking forward to as we have several quality players returning and will want to ensure we put them in a position to be as successful as possible. Our summer workouts and practices will need to be a major focus going forward.”