By Chris Yow
Spring Hill football coach Ben Martin won’t take this for granted anymore.
After his team’s Friday night scrimmage at Lebanon, Martin said it was a blessing to be back on the field and getting work in without the team’s win-loss record on the line.
That was a popular sentiment around the area over the weekend, as high school teams got a chance to hit somebody new and in a different colored jersey.
Last season, scrimmages were not allowed due to the threat of COVID-19, but with the latest guidelines from health officials and the TSSAA, local teams took full advantage of the opportunity.
Columbia Central, with John Moore still getting his feet under him, traveled to Lawrence County. The interim coach said he was pleased with what he saw.
“We got off to a slow start, but Q Martin picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown, and that really revved us up,” he said. “We started executing a little better on offense after that, and I thought we did OK.”
“Our pad level is way too high, but that’s normal for this time of the year and our timing is off, so we have to work on that.”
Pad levels and techniques are part of the biggest corrections needed after these early scrimmages, according to coaches.
“We were terrible on technique and still managed to stay in the scrimmage. It’s the little things we harp on all the time,” Martin said. “We got some good work in, but I’m not sure how many questions got answered.”
Martin said getting a chance to control the scrimmage and correct mistakes as they happen during the scrimmage may not be ideal for fans who are clamoring for game action, but it’s vital to getting ready for Aug. 20.
“We were able to get out and correct things, and we got to see some stuff we wanted to see and look at,” he said. “It’s maybe not as exciting for fans with controlled scrimmages, but we get really good work being able to do it this way.
“We made mistakes, but nothing I wouldn’t expect to happen in the first scrimmage of the year.”
Mt. Pleasant coach Kit Hartsfield said his team bogged down in the red zone during their scrimmage at Cornersville and his team failed to score in the game. That, however, didn’t stall his optimism.
“It went OK,” he said. “I’m certainly not worried. We went up against good competition in Cornersville. It shows you where you’re at and where you need to be.”
Like Martin and Spring Hill, Hartsfield said his team didn’t play well, but still remained competitive.
“That’s what we are preaching to the kids is our ceiling is really high,” he said. “We looked fast on defense — had a lot of guys flying around making some big hits.”
Richland coach Nick Patterson was pleased, and for good reason. His team scored five touchdowns and held visiting Huntland to just two. The offensive production, considering the shake-up in the backfield this offseason, was a point of excitement.
“Overall, it was one of our better outings in my tenure here in execution and performance,” he said. “It was a good scrimmage for us, but there is obviously plenty to work on.”
The quarterback for the last two seasons, Sam Edwards has moved to running back in favor of Bryce Miller. That move has allowed Patterson to be more flexible with his senior athlete.
“Sam moved to running back and he’s thriving. It also allows us to use him more on defense, and he’s doing a great job for us there,” Patterson said. “I thought Bryce did a great job at quarterback. He handled himself really well.”
Patterson was also impressed with his team’s depth at this point of the season. A large freshman class has helped to bolster some key positions.
“Overall, I think we have more depth than we’ve ever had. There are a few places I’d like to have more, but team-wide our numbers are good,” he said. “I feel like we are building much-needed depth in a lot of spots.
“It’s good to be back.”
This week’s scrimmage schedule:
Collinwood at Mt. Pleasant
Summertown at Perry Co.
Columbia Acad. at Spring Hill
Richland at Giles Co.
Hardin Co. at Lawrence Co.
South Gibson at Columbia Acad.
Loretto at Scotts Hill
Stewarts Creek at Summit
Hillsboro at Independence
Richland at Moore Co.
Spring Hill, Summertown at East Hickman