As the Valley Head football team traveled to Section for a spring scrimmage, Crossville first-year head coach Josh Taylor observed his team compete in an intrasquad game Friday night.
Valley Head played Section in two quarters of varsity action, finishing the second period with a 21-20 lead before shuffling in junior varsity players for the remainder of the night.
“We knew Section would be pretty good, they have a lot of returners coming back,” Tigers head coach Heath Vincent said. “They have a lot of skill guys and we were both in the same situation of needing some younger players to be able to see some live action.”
Eian Bain scored all three touchdowns for Valley Head during the varsity periods. Section missed an extra-point attempt in the second quarter.
“Early in the game, our running backs were not really hitting the holes, but as the game went on, everything started to click for us,” Vincent said. “Our execution got on target and we were able to move the ball throughout the game.
“We play a physical style of offense, so we needed to be physical at the line of scrimmage and with the blocking backs. We have to have our running backs running physically.”
Along with Bain, Ashton Brown and Pacey Cooper also split time at running back for the Tigers. Vincent said he was interested in seeing how both Brown and Cooper would play in the offensive backfield and was pleased with their performances.
Valley Head’s defense did its best to swarm the ball and keep Section’s offense out of sync.
“We got out of position at times and had some broken down job assignments, but that’s stuff that comes with experience,” Vincent said.
The Tigers are scheduled to play Section in their second game of the 2021 season in August.
“We’re just going to see how much we can improve from now until we face them again,” Vincent said.
In Crossville, the Lions suited up for a scrimmage that consisted of four 8-minute quarters without kicking phases. The game involved current seventh- 11th-graders. The third quarter saw mostly younger players getting an opportunity to get in the game.
By the end of the night, Team Black bested Team White 30-14, but for Taylor, the end result was more about seeing how many of Crossville’s first-time football players performed everything that had been practiced during the spring training sessions.
“For us to line up correctly in multiple formations and run multiple plays successfully speaks volumes to our student-athletes’ and coaches’ commitment to our program,” Taylor said.
Taylor said though the Lions were able to throw the ball around a little bit, the running capability was what sparked for both sides with different personnel.
From a defensive standpoint, Taylor said expectations were exceeded.
“Players responded to coaching well and responded to mistakes,” he said. “They practiced hard every day and asked questions when they did not understand.”
Approximately 50 varsity players and 24 junior high players participated in Crossville’s spring training.
Taylor said the Lions coaching staff is close to full staff and includes: Chuck Dutton (defensive coordinator), Kent Colvin (offensive coordinator), Riley Edwards (defensive box), Ethan Jones (offensive and defensive lines) and Blake Wilkes (wide receivers).
“We have a lot of momentum going into the summer,” Taylor said. “Our kids are excited about playing football, and we plan to polish and refine our process as we approach the season in August.”