BENTON COUNTY First year head coach Tony Travis had three major goals to meet in the scrimmage practice game played at Cedarville Monday night.
"I wanted and hoped that we could get through the scrimmage without injury while at the same time getting in some quality playing time against a pretty good opponent." Travis said after the scrimmage.
"Everybody came out of it healthy and it was good to get some practice time in against someone other than ourselves.
Thirdly, I think we got the 'first game' butterflies out of the way and we will be better prepared to take on Elkins next week."
Cedarville is more than just a pretty good opponent, ranked near the top 10 in the state amongst 3A schools according to a variety of polling agencies. The Pirates' quarterback, who was the hardest person for the 'Hawks to contain in the short scrimmage, is a returning all-state signal caller and is the primary reason the Pirates are expected to contend for state honors this year.
Some of the good and bad things that took place in the scrimmage often occurred on the same plays. In the first part of the scrimmage, quarterback Brandon Easterling hit a receiver with a great 20 yard pass, which the 'Hawk then took upfield for more yards then fumbling the ball away on a collision. On the very next offensive play for Pea Ridge, Andrew Woollard made a great cut down the west sidelines for a gain in excess of 30 yards only to have a penalty against a 'Hawk lineman bring the ball back, erasing the fine run.
"We had way too many dropped passes," Travis lamented. "I am glad they got open and we got the ball to them, but we have to do a better job focusing. Our tackling wasn't good at times but that is a bit understandable with our toning down the contact part of our practices. With so few players available to us, we can't afford to lose any early on. We are going to have to pick up the contact and intensity between now and next week, though."
"On the positive side, we got some great effort from our athletes who, after all, are having to learn a whole new system in just six weeks. Now we have some game film to go over which we will use to teach and motivate." Travis said.
Coach Travis left the field acknowledging that the season that begins Sept. 4 will be a demanding one with many challenges. It's a task that both he and his players embrace.
After taking turns scrimmaging on offense with Cedarville, the teams concluded the session with a one quarter contest which was "won" by the Pirates, if you can call a one quarter experience a win or a loss.
The following is a play by play account of that quarter.
The 'Hawks put the ball on play on the 30 yard line. On first down, Rhine made a finethrow for over 30 yards down the right sidelines but the ball slipped out of the hands of the receiver. Two more incompletions and the 'Hawks had to punt to the Pirates, a 27 yarder that gave Cedarville a first down on the Pirate 43. After three runs up the middle netted the Pirates 12 yards and a first down on the 'Hawk 45, the Cedarville quarterback got outside and outran the 'Hawk defense to score with 9:38 left in the quarter. The kick was no good, leaving Cedarville ahead 6-0.
The 'Hawks then commenced a ground attack with Javier Torres breaking a 5 yarder on first down. Blackhawk tailback Tyler Ramsey then ran through traffic for 1 and 3 yards to set up a 4th and 1 on the 'Hawk 39. Ramsey came just inches short on fourth down with the Pirates taking over near the Pea Ridge 40 yard line. The Pirates used rushes of 4, 8, 3, 13 and 4 for a first down on the 'Hawk 6. The Pirate all-state quarterback then took it for the score with the PAT goodfor a 13-0 advantage.
The 'Hawks finally got untracked with Nathan Norris breaking loose for a 6-yard run to start the possession from the Pea Ridge 30. Rhine then hit Scott Fisher for a 9-yard gainer and a first down on the 'Hawk 45. Ramsey subsequently burst up the middle and wrestled through a jungle of bodies to daylight, dashing 28 yards until finally getting caught from behind on a jersey tackle. On first down, Rhine connected with Fisher for 3 yards to the Pirate 24. The 'Hawks' good fortunes turned sour, however, when the exchange on the next handoff was mishandled with Cedarville covering the loose pigskin, ending Pea Ridge's last chance for an offensive possession.
Next up for Travis's 'Hawks will be Pride Night this Friday at Blackhawk Stadium. The season opener will then be at Elkins in a non-conference clash against one of Pea Ridge's oldest rivals. The Elks have won the last two contests and the 'Hawks will be looking for a little payback.
Sports, Pages 8 on 08/26/2009