High school football: Coaches mostly pleased with how scrimmages, spring practice went

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Jeff Thomas/Press-Tribune

For the most part, parish high school football coaches were pleased with how their teams performed in last week’s scrimmages that marked the end of two weeks of spring practice.

Airline scrimmaged Ouachita Parish on Thursday at M.D. Ray Field at Airline Stadium. There were four scrimmages Friday. Parkway faced North Webster at Bobby Marlow Field at Preston Crownover Stadium, Benton hosted Haynesville and Bossier hosted Homer. Haughton held an intrasquad scrimmage.

Plain Dealing did not have a scrimmage.

Here is a look at how parish teams fared.

Airline: The Vikings put together a nice drive led by rising junior quarterback Alex Garcia during the first team’s initial set of plays. Airline drove inside the 10 but couldn’t get in the end zone.

Each team scored once in the regulation quarter. Rising sophomore Gavin Ashworth, who replaced Garcia after he took a hit on his knee, completed a couple of nice passes to Kevin Pouncy. Rovelle Young broke loose for 25 yards and then scored on a short run.

“I thought overall that it went really well,” Airline coach Bo Meeks said. “We’ve struggled in springs past, I think, so really pleased overall. I think it was one of the best scrimmages we’ve had.

“The guys flew around on both sides of the ball. We didn’t make a lot of pre-snap mistakes as far as misalignment and early movement on offense.”

Airline and Ouachita are quite familiar with each other. They scrimmaged in the fall and spring last year and are scheduled to meet in Monroe in the 2019 season opener on Sept. 6. So obviously neither team showed a lot on offense.

“We kept things pretty basic, which was good, because we were able to just execute our base stuff and I thought we did a really good job of that,” Meeks said.

Meeks was pleased with how both Garcia and Ashworth along with another rising sophomore, Tyler Bumgardner, performed at quarterback.

“I thought they did a good job with leading our team, making plays and playing well under pressure,” he said.

Parkway: The Panthers scored twice in the regulation quarter against North Webster.

Jamall Asberry ran the ball well. Brady Norcross and Gnoble Peterson made some nice catches.

Rising junior quarterback Gabe Larry, who did not participate in the first week of drills while helping the Panthers baseball team reach the Class 5A semifinals, led the scoring drives.

“Gabe was rusty a little bit, but, heck, we just got him back,” Parkway coach Neil May said.

Overall, May liked what he saw over the last two weeks.

“The whole spring was great,” he said.

The first week a lot of attention was focused on the baseball team’s progress, May said.

“I think our football team and as a school that first week of practice we were all, in the back of our minds, praying and hoping that our baseball team was going to win the state championship,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of football players that play baseball so we were waiting on them to get back.

“The kids worked hard all spring. I’m real proud of them. I’m real proud of our defense. We’ve got some size up front. We’ve got a great player in (linebacker) Isaiah Robinson who’s getting a lot of attention. Great kid, great kid.

“Offensively we’ve got a bunch of juniors at skill positions this year. They’re all phenomenal athletes. They’re a lot of fun and real athletic. They may take it on the chin a little bit growing as a varsity level player but we’re excited about it.”

Benton: Coach Rey-nolds Moore liked the way his team competed against perennial Class 1A power Haynesville, which was 12-1 last season.

Benton rising junior quarterback Clint Lasiter threw a pair of touchdown passes to Malik Antwine. Like Larry, Lasiter just joined his team this week after the Tigers’ deep run in the baseball playoffs.

“I thought we did about as well as we could’ve done,” Moore said. “When you play a team like Haynesville two things jump out. One is that they’re always really good and really well-coached, and secondly, they do something that we don’t see in practice.”

The Tors scored on a couple of long passes, but overall Moore thought his defense played well.

“We thought our guys tackled well, ran to the ball well, got off the blocks well, read their keys well,” he said.

He credited Haynesville for making the plays, but he said the defensive breakdowns were the result of mistakes that are easily correctable.
“We had not gone over that (in practice),” he said.

The Tigers put a lot of emphasis on improving in the fundamentals in the spring.

“So when you play somebody like (Haynesville) you’ve got to devote some of your fundamental time to repping their offense and set and things like that. Obviously there were some mistakes there that hopefully you wouldn’t make in a regular week. You’d be able to prepare better.”

The Tigers’ first-team offense had success running and passing.

Moore was especially impressed with how Lasiter made the transition from baseball to football.

“Clint threw the ball extremely well,” he said. “He comes off the baseball game Sunday and he comes out and lights it up all week.

“Malik had a great game. Our receivers didn’t have a lot of dropped balls.”
Benton didn’t have a turnover.

“I just thought it was a really clean game,” Moore said. “To me that’s the biggest thing. It wasn’t like a sloppy spring-type thing where you have a bunch of stuff to clean up. We’ve got some stuff to clean up, but a lot of it is just fine-tuning stuff and just making some small adjustments.”

Haughton: While intrasquad scrimmages are difficult to evaluate, Haughton’s No. 1 units both did some positive things.

“The thing about it is when you scrimmage yourselves if the defense plays well then everybody thinks you’re just bad,” Haughton coach Jason Brotherton said. “It makes the offense look bad. If the offense plays good and you score a bunch everybody thinks you’re just great. Well, that’s really not very good either.”

The No. 1 defense dominated the first 12-minute period, allowing just one first down. The offense came alive in the second period and got the ball in the end zone.

With quarterback Peyton Stovall, running back Keyshawn Davis, and receivers CJ McWilliams, Tristan Sweeney and Matthew Whitten all back off last year’s 9-3 team, Brotherton knows his offense will be able to put points on the board in the fall.

“They did some good things, but we were excited about the way our defense played through the first 12 minutes without giving up a score,” he said. “We think we’re a lot better on that side of the ball.”

Davis had a long run and Sweeney made a couple of catches during the second 12 minutes.

“We have a lot of guys who can make plays,” Brotherton said. “We weren’t sharp. A little bit of that is those defensive guys practice against our offense every day so they know all the tendencies. It’s hard to really fool them on anything because they see it every day.”

Overall, Brotherton said it was a good scrimmage.

“We were pleased,” he said. “Got out of there injury-free. We got some things done this spring. Got to see a couple of young kids step up.

“Elijah Rochon caught a touchdown tonight with our ones. That’s a guy in a spot where there’s several guys competing for, that fourth receiver spot. He had a good game tonight so we’re excited about that, to see someone step up there.”

Bossier: Coach Michael Concilio said his team put in nine days of hard work leading up to the scrimmage against Homer. But he wasn’t happy with how the Bearkats performed.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “It didn’t go quite the way I wanted it to.

“We put in some very, very hard days. I didn’t feel like we got the result that we needed to get. We have a long ways to go. We need to spend the summertime doing a lot of things to get ourselves better.”