David Mitchell commentary: High school football teams get test run this week

dmitchell@ledger-enquirerAugust 14, 2013 

The actual start of the football season may still be a week away in the case of Calvary Christian and Glenwood and two weeks for the rest of the Bi-City teams. Fear not, though, loyal sports fans, there will be real physical contact on the field this week.

Seven area teams play scrimmages on Thursday and Friday, marking the official countdown to the season’s opening weekend.

Thursday night, Jordan plays Turner County in a scrimmage at Brookstone. On Friday, Harris County hosts Worth County, Calvary Christian travels to Sherwood Christian, Hardaway plays at Brookstone, Manchester hosts Mary Persons, Shaw goes to Callaway and Kendrick goes to Cairo.

It may not count in the standings and many teams elect not to make it completely live, eliminating kickoffs and punts for example, but it will be a great opportunity for coaches to see what their players are made of in real competition.

Kendrick coach Jerry Dukes told me last week, he wants to see the progress his players have made blocking and tackling, which is really the foundation of the game. Other things like play execution, running routes and making reads are important, but more than anything he wants to make sure his players are where they need to be at the fundamentals.

Harris County’s Tommy Parks spoke somewhat along the same lines. Asked how his team had progressed and how prepared they were for the regular season, he said it was impossible to know for sure before they strapped on pads and played full-contact against live competition.

That’s one of the reasons the Tigers will play their game almost 100 percent live. The first three quarters will be a real-time game with kicking, punting and hard hits. The fourth quarter will be a running clock and an opportunity to get the younger players some live-action opportunities.

In a lot of cases, teams are breaking in new quarterbacks or new offensive linemen or any other position. The question players and coaches have to figure out for themselves is how they handle tough competition when the lights are shining and the fans are cheering (or booing, as the case may be).

They’re also trying to see how they handle adversity. A coach may put a player in a difficult position to see what they can do when the odds are stacked against them. A game that doesn’t count in the standings is a great opportunity to let players know how it feels to be under pressure.

And they want to see which players are timid or shy away from contact. It’s one thing to hit each other in drills, but coaches need to know which players can handle the physicality when playing against guys who don’t know you, don’t necessarily like you and want to do everything they can to beat you.

These games may not count, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

David Mitchell, dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.

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