Opening scrimmages highlight weaknesses

Aug. 02, 2014 @ 05:57 PM

 This is why you practice.

The first round of high school football scrimmages on Thursday and Friday gave area coaches plenty to work on. But, barely a week into full-contact practice and with games still three Fridays away, a little inconsistency shouldn’t be surprising.

“The thing you’ve got to realize, you only have four days in pads,” said Seymour coach Jerry Cooper. “How good can any football team be after four days of practice? ... You see so many things that you have to correct. It gives us a great big laundry list of things we need to get done in practice.”

Cooper’s Eagles played Pigeon Forge on Friday in a scrimmage that was ended early by an on-field skirmish. It came a day after Sevier County made its annual trip to McCallie for a pair of scrimmages. The King’s Academy played its first competitive snaps of the season against North Greene on Friday while Gatlinburg-Pittman’s first scrimmage isn’t until next week against Ooltewah.

Like Cooper, Smoky Bears coach Tony Linginfelter found plenty of room for improvement a day earlier.

“We didn’t play as well as what we hoped for,” Linginfelter said. “They took it to us pretty good. We made a lot of mistakes. We see a lot of things we need to be working on and improving.”

Back in the county, both the Tigers and Eagles had flashes of strong play on Friday, with Seymour sophomore Austin Brewster putting together some nice runs on the ground and new quarterback Clayton Ogle finding Blaise Rooney for a couple of long pass plays. But the Eagles also were plagued by drive-killing fumbles. 

Pigeon Forge had some of the same issues, driving to the five on its opening possession before fumbling the ball away. Coach Scott Meadows said his team’s best stretch of play came on the last couple of drives, including when Noah Whaley was able to run in for a score shortly before the scrimmage was halted.

“A lot of mental stuff,” Meadows said. “We had so many mental busts out there, it wasn’t even funny. I think everything that we can do, we need to do better.”

Now, it’s about cleaning up those mistakes when teams return to the practice field on Monday. Linginfelter said there were some positives for the Bears at McCallie, they just weren’t consistently strong. Sevier County moved the ball well in the second scrimmage but hit a wall on third down or critical short-yardage situations. The defense had its own ups and downs, with big plays spoiling a strong start to the day.

Things were similarly inconsistent for Lions coach Matt Lowe. He saw good plays on offense and a defense that did a good job keeping North Greene out of the end zone. But he also said TKA needs to do a better job up front defensively and be more consistent running the ball.

But scrimmages are supposed to shine a light on those deficiencies and show teams where they need to focus their energy. It's time to go back to work.

“You’ve got to go back and really look at situations, the situations that we should’ve been better at,” Meadows said. “But it was a pretty typical first scrimmage.”