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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Final Tune up for South - Shawnee

J. C. Tilton

Twin Valley South and Preble Shawnee scrimmaged this past Friday – both teams final tune up before the regular season. First impression was the sea of black on the Shawnee sideline and the sparse number of red jerseys on the South sideline. Shawnee has over 50 players out this season, the most in a long time – maybe the most ever. South does have 29 players on the roster, but due to injury and other factors they were only able to dress 22.

Shawnee’s first year coach Stacy is featuring a spread offense and running it with no huddle. While South featured the double wing and wishbone sets on offense. The teams exchanged scores in the early going. But Shawnee was able to pull ahead and outscore South 35-21. Penalties were an Achilles heel for Shawnee; while South passed sparingly and although they completed some long passes, there were three interceptions.

Shawnee’s quarterback Begley was a bright spot – showing versatility with the pass and run. South’s running attack looked pretty solid. There are several backs that can break a long run at any time. I also thought that the team got fatigued later in the scrimmage which may have been a factor in Shawnee’s ability to score late and put some distance between them and TVS. Lots of guys going both ways and a younger team – not as much stamina and size with just 3 seniors.

One positive for TVS, they did make adjustments on defense. But Shawnee had a lot of arrows in their arsenal. South finds a way to stop the bubble screen, they go to a quarterback keeper, stop that by crowding the line and the Arrows start throwing deep.

TVS first year Head Coach Shondlemeyer had this to say about his team, “Offensively we have speed and can score points this year. Defensively, we are not as strong as we need to be. On defense you have to get off blocks and that boils down to the weight room. And we are not as strong as we need to be, that will be focus for the off season and right now – we will still continue to work on getting stronger. We will be outstrengthed and outsized defensively. And we saw a little bit of lack of effort in the second part of the second quarter and I was not pleased with that. We have to get over that, we have to learn that you have to give it everything.”

“We do return a lot of our linemen. Jesse Koeller at offensive guard. AJ Bantz at center. Skylar Reckers returns from last year, he will be an excellent player, but he didn’t start playing until the end of the season. Tyler Leach played a lot of defense, but now he is an option fullback and will be taking a lot of hits. Steve Balthis has a tremendous amount of speed and again is making the transition from defense to offense. Roy Wysong did not play last year, but I am impressed with him at split end. All those guys have to grow up fast and get better fast.”

Shawnee Head Coach Stacy was asked for his thoughts, “ One positive is that on offense we moved the ball up and down the field very well. We were our own worst enemy when we put the ball on the ground and gave up the turnover. We played very hard as a team. We made some mistakes on defense – but we knew that would happen. Most of our focus has been on offense. We got burned a few times, but that let us know what we need to work on.”

“We have nice wide outs, slot backs, running backs and a couple of nice quarterbacks – so we are equipped with some nice skilled players. Begley and Kyle Lettner are two key returning starters. Danny Dillon can fill in at quarterback. Willie Barnhill is another receiver that we are looking for big things from. I think that we will become more and more explosive as we come together as a team.”

Finally Coach Stacy was asked to look ahead to opening day, “We need to be perfect – don’t jump offsides, don’t put the ball on the ground, catch the ball, run all 11 guys to the all on defense. I’m looking for hustle and fundamentals – knowing what you are supposed to do. “

Next Friday Shawnee hosts National Trail while South journeys to Dixie and will be the game of the week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dixie and North Prepare for Kickoff

J. C. Tilton

Had the opportunity this past weekend to watch the Dixie – North scrimmage and get an idea of the prospects for each team this fall. After the scrimmage I was able to speak with both head coaches and get their take on the upcoming season.

The two teams exchanged a series of 10 plays, then played for down and distance. That was when the scoring began. North found the end zone first. They had a decent running game and got the ball to midfield where they scored on a 42 yard pass. But from there Dixie made adjustments on defense and got their offense in gear and took control of the scrimmage.

Their defense was of the bend but do not break variety. They were also opportunistic, generating several turnovers off of North fumbles and interceptions. Which set up a short field for the offense. The Greyhounds had balanced scoring, Nick Worley connecting on two pass plays for TD’s. One of these about a 20 yard TD pass to Eddie Bingham. Woody Earls found paydirt twice on runs of 62 and 6 yards.

Coach Tarpley of Dixie was asked about the scrimmage. “The offense line looked a lot better this year than they did last year. The senior leadership seems to be making a difference. We had a good situation with the running backs and we are going to run a little more this year. Our defense does need to improve as far as giving away third down conversions. We averaged about 25 points a game last year and were still getting beat.”

Top returning starters for Dixie, “Nick Worley at quarterback, 24 TD passes with 13 picks. Eddie Bellman at wide out with about 25 catches. Woody Earls at running back; there are about 8 starters back in all. Copeland and the Hayes brothers are back on the line. The quarterbacks brother, Aaron Worley, is playing center. “

Coach Tarpley continued, “We have 42 kids out this year, a big jump up from last season when we finished with a little over 20. It makes our practices better and makes it more competitive for positions. “

North’s coach Hart was asked to comment on his team, “Our first positive was effort, effort, effort. Our kids played hard today and they played hard even when things went bad. Our running backs played well today, hit their holes hard. Defensively we covered them well even they spread 4 and 5 wide across the field.”

“We do need to improve on our pass blocking; too many times our quarterback was running for his life. We also need to do the little things correctly – footwork and fundamentals. Once we do that, we will be a better team.”

Top returning starters for North, “Matt Green at fullback and middle linebacker. Kyle Booth at corner and now quarterback. Dakota at running back. Todd Delong on offensive and defensive lines. A couple of new faces on the team, seniors Matt Robinson and Cody Burnside decided to come out and play this year. Both are athletic and should contribute.

Coach Tarpley does ask that fans attending the next scrimmage, Friday, August 15th 5:30pm at Dixie, to please bring canned goods to donate to local food pantries. With the slowed economy many local charities are low on food. Comments:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bengals First Impressions

First string defense seems to have a little spark. Opened with a couple of quarterback sacks - hopefully a sign that more will be coming. Got a pick on their second series. I do see where they need to hit and wrapwhen they tackle. There were several plays that could have been stopped for little or no gain and sprang for big yardage when the runner slipped out of a tackle.

I didn't realize that Brett Favre had only one losing season during his stay at Green Bay -
pretty impressive. Aaron Rogers has his hands full stepping into the shoes of a legend.
But at least he was able to move the ball, so credit is due. Carson Palmer seemed a little
cold in the first quarter. The offense was lethargic to say the least. Overthrew deep once and dinked some short passes. It looked like Carson Palmer was the quarterback that had only thrown 59 passes in the NFL and Aaron Rogers looked like the seasoned pro.

Running game was nothing to write home in the first quarter. Ominously, Rudy Johnson is having leg problems. But in the second quarter the running game took off under Watson and Perry. Maybe they made some adjustments on their blocking assignments. But the running game finally got the Bengals a first down, and more. Their first TD was a Palmer pass to a tight end, Utecht. Palmer finally got into a groove. And that will really spread defenses thin if the Bengals can continue using the tightend. Most times a tight end will draw coverage from a linebacker which will generally be a mismatch either in height or speed. In the past, the Bengals haven't been able to field tight ends with decent hands.

The new linebacker, Rivers, played in the second quarter, albeit when the Packers started to put in their backups. But he played well from what I could see. Palmers backup, Fitzpatrick, did a decent job while he was in the game. Connected with his recievers as well as tucking the ball and running for first down when everyone was covered. Not bad for a guy from Harvard - not exactly known as a football school.

Not going to make any projections here, too early to tell. One positive that can be taken from this is that Perry seems to have that eye of the Tiger this year. He was running like a guy that needed to prove himself. Rudy is getting to the end of his career and if he continues to ail, then Perry may be the answer for the running game. So long as he stays healthy. Another positive was the pass pressure from the defense. Not in there every time, but often enough to disrupt the offense.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ohio State could have one of their better teams this upcoming season. Lots of starters returning, particularly on defense. And as we have seen, that is what wins championships. I did see where a safety was suspended for two games, but the Buckeyes do begin the season with patsies. He does play against his old team - Youngstown State. The true test will be USC - and Carson Palmer has provided some material for the bulletin board. Doesn't he know Ohio well enough by now to know that 90% of the state are rabid Ohio State fans? So the Buckeyes will have a chip on their shoulder going into this game.

Boeckman will have to prove that he can win big games. Thought that he got rattled in the championship game. Now they do have an incoming freshman that is a Vince Young type of quarterback. So if Boeckman stumbles, look for him to get some reps.

One factor for Ohio State is last season's performance in the Championship game. It was their second lackluster performance. Now last season was more of a rebuilding season, lots of new faces in the roster. The way that the season went down, I think that they were as surprised as anyone that they ended up in the Championship. But based on their last two Championship games, they will have to greatly exceed expectations to make it back again. And I know there are some who criticized OSU for their performance. But during Tressels tenure, I would like to know how many times he has been ranked in the top 10 as opposed to other coaches during this time frame. I wonder how his peers compare, off the top of my head I don't think that any match up. So he gets kudos for consistency in producing a nationally ranked program.

I certainly think that they have the talent to make to the top again. The question will be can they win big enough to convince skeptics to vote their way for the poll portion of the BCS rankings.