PITTSBURG — It may have been a practice game, but the intensity was high on Friday night at Hutchinson Field, where the Pittsburg High School football season officially got underway with the annual purple-white scrimmage.
The trial run provided many players an opportunity to shine and showed the coaches how the team might stack up against upcoming opponents.
“We were a lot sharper than we were in Saturday’s scrimmage,” PHS head coach Tom Nickelson said. “We were very vanilla tonight, but most scrimmages are. The goal of scrimmages is just to keep everybody healthy, but we did accomplish several things. We saw a lot of different formations, the defense got lined up correctly and the offense executed plays. It was just crisper and sharper. When you turn the lights on at Hutchinson Field, you should feel the energy, and the boys really did. They played with good energy tonight.”
Offense came early and often, as the quarterbacks were making the correct reads and the running backs broke many tackles throughout the contest.
“You should have success when the No. 1 offense is going up against the next-best defense,” Nickelson said. “Upfront from tight end to tackle, they picked up the blocks and they climbed to the second level well. We’re not really big, but we have good feet and we’re quick. They can get out in space and lock up with linebackers and safeties. They did a nice job of that tonight.”
Despite being at a disadvantage, the defense stiffened as the game went on and made several plays to slow down the offense.
“When we play with correct pad level upfront, they can be a handful,” Nickelson said. “Again, not big, but they have quickness. We’re going to be an aggressive defense, but we didn’t blitz much tonight. I was proud of their alignments, that’s the main thing we were looking for. We wanted to see everybody in the same alignments, everybody get lined up correctly and everybody doing their responsibilities. I think they did a really nice job of that.”
With the season opener around the corner, the Purple Dragons came away from the scrimmage more prepared for what lies ahead and with a better idea of what they need to work on in practice.
“We need to work on everything,” Nickelson said. “We’re not ready yet, but nobody is. Until you play that first game, there’s a lot of unknowns. One thing our kids are doing though, is working extremely hard in the weight room and on the practice field. No coach ever feels like they’re completely ready, but every kid feels like they’ve been ready all summer long. At some point you just have to play, and Harrisonville will do a good job of showing us where we need to get better at and where we’re deficient. Until then, you just have to put your best players in the best position to be successful.”
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.