McDonald Has Ridgeland Mounting for Title Chase
Photo courtesy of myNWRpics.com
Ryan Earnest knows a thing or two about winning at a high level. Prior to becoming Athletics Director and head football coach at Ridgeland in 2016, he led Collins to back-to-back state titles on the gridiron in 2014 and 2015.
This fall Earnest might just have another gold ball contender on his hands. The Titans have plenty of experienced players returning on both sides of the ball, but most of the excitement centers around young quarterback Zy McDonald.
“I’m amped for the upcoming season,” McDonald told SES Mississippi. “I’m ready to compete with my teammates, and I feel like we can do great things this season.”
“Our biggest strength coming into this season is our experience. We had several guys playing for the first time last season and it showed. With a full season under our belt, and the way our coaches are preparing us over the summer, I feel confident we will improve and surpass what we did last season.”
Though he was just a freshman last fall, McDonald helped Ridgeland improve their win total by three. Furthermore, he completed an impressive 62% of his pass attempts.
The Titans were a balanced team, by average, in 2017, with nearly 120 yards per game coming on the ground and 220 through the air. Markell Young and Devin Chambers, who will again be featured skill players this season, were stout on the ground. However, McDonald was on a different level with the passing game.
McDonald tossed at least one touchdown in all but one game last season, while throwing for multiple scores in eight of 11 games. That includes a three-week span against Forest, Canton and Cleveland Central in which he tossed four, three and three touchdowns, respectively. All in all, he finished with 2,376 yards and 23 touchdowns through the air on the season.
“I worked hard last summer in preparation for the season and didn’t overthink things while playing,” McDonald noted as to how he played so well as a freshman. “My dad played a big part in having me prepared mentally and physically for the season.”
“We worked on footwork drills, throwing mechanics and my overall conditioning. Mentally, we broke down coverages, which made it easier to do when Friday came. He explained the transition to high school would be faster paced, and that I needed to adapt quickly. Anything I have questions about, he breaks it down and explains it so that I’m comfortable when it’s game time.”
In addition to his father, Elijah, as well as his head coach Ryan Earnest, McDonald has also been fortunate enough to have influence from his uncle Duece McAllister, who was a longtime football at Ole Miss and then for the New Orleans Saints. He says that McAllister preaches for him to keep up his academics, and he enjoys learning the game from Earnest. However, it was his father that got him into the game from the time he could walk.
And the work that he put in with his father last summer to prepare for his first prep season was just the start. This offseason McDonald says he feels he has improved some key areas, and that he’s still working on others.
“I feel like I’ve improved on reading coverages, recognizing blitzes, getting the ball out on time and accuracy,” He noted. “I still have a few things I can fix before the season. Like being more precise on my deep balls, footwork and a few mechanical things.”
Ridgeland hosts Velma Jackson on Thursday, August 16th, to kick of the 2018 season.