ST. PAULS — The first scrimmage of the season for St. Pauls was almost cut short after rainy weather skirted the St. Pauls Jamboree.
The early scrimmages between Red Springs, Fairmont, Overhills and Westover went off without a hitch but the moment the Bulldogs took to the field to challenge Midway, the rain began to fall harder.
“The rain affected it a lot, especially the ball handling,” quarterback Cody McKenna said. “We learned a lot from it. A bunch of little things we have to work on. I think the team did pretty good you know.”
Coach Trey Sasser said to him, it is something the team is going to have to get used to at some point.
There are going to be games in the rain so you have to just play through it,” he said. “The ball may have been a little bit wetter than it would have been in a ballgame because we would have had somebody keeping them dry and rotating them a bit better, but the rain made it a little cooler, so we told them it’s better than practicing in 90 degree heat.”
The rain started to let off towards the back half of the scrimmage for the Bulldogs, enough for coaches to get a better idea of what the offenses and defenses could do. McKenna said the team played a looser style once the rain moved out, particularly on the offensive side.
“We had a ball that was a little more dry and we got a little more aggressive,” he said. “We didn’t really have to hold off as much as we did earlier and we got after it a little bit more than we did in the first 45 minutes.”
Sasser said the scrimmage showed some of the weak points in the Bulldogs’ offense, in particular their offensive line.
“They’re all new and learning where to block, who to block,” he said. “We thought we had it down, but in the heat of battle so to speak, a lot of people forget. We just have to continue practicing what we do, and they just have to get better about who their supposed to be blocking.”
On the bright side, Sasser did see improved defense from last year.
“They played well,” he said. “They practice to chase people down and I thought they were physical and for the most part they played well.”
Before the Bulldogs took to their home field, Fairmont and Red Springs challenged Overhills and Westover, coached by former South Robeson head Stephen Roberson, in scrimmages of their own.
For Fairmont coach Randy Ragland, the scrimmages his team took part in could have gone better.
“I saw some things I liked, I saw some things I didn’t like,” he said. “I didn’t think we played the type of football I want to play this year, but we are going to get there.”
Ragland took some of the blame for the up and down play.
“I took them out of their element tonight,” he said. “They are used to playing fast and I kind of slowed them down a bit.”
Defensively, Ragland felt the team is heading in the right direction, but needs to work on being able to finish games better.
“We are having to play so many guys both ways this year we didn’t finish as strong as I wanted us to finish,” he said. “That’s my job to get them in shape though.”
Red Springs coach Ron Cook felt the same way about his defense, as early on, the Red Devils were looking tough to beat on that side of the ball.
“We were getting after guys, running after the ball,” Cook said. “The only time that they wavered is because of fatigue. As far as being relentless, they definitely stepped up to that challenge tonight. I was definitely proud of them.”
Cook did say the offense is still going to take some work, particularly the offensive line, where they have made the most changes to the scheme.
“The number one thing I want to see is our offensive line finishing plays, finishing blocks,” Cook said. “I don’t think we answered that question yet tonight.”