LUMBERTON — As the sun started to set on the Lumberton High School practice football fields on Tuesday afternoon, Lumberton football coach Mike Setzer saw that his already tightly-knit group was starting to congeal even more in its first 7-on-7 scrimmage since the first dead period of the summer.
“I felt like the experience on defense, they are starting to become more like an organism,” he said. “Everything is starting to work together.”
Also at the scrimmages was Red Springs, and both teams showed adjustments to early miscommunication and a little rust on defense to lock in against each other and E.E. Smith.
The big picture of playing four competitive contests on the evening was lost for both Setzer and Red Springs coach Lawrence Ches. For them, the focus was the little details with less than three weeks until the start of official fall practice.
“We’re looking for them to be fundamentally sound. We aren’t trying to have them win a 7-on-7 tournament or anything like that,” Setzer said. “The offense was a little rusty, but our defense we felt good about today.”
“We’re really young so I want to see execution, I want to see growth and see kids get better,” Ches said. “I’m not looking to win 7-on-7s, we’re looking to get better.”
Winning and keeping score was no issue to them, but their teams did perform better after taking their early lumps on defense in the first contest with blown coverages leading to over-the-top touchdowns for Lumberton and Red Springs. Ches chalked that up to inexperience for his team that has show growth from where it was before the week off.
“We’re starting to buy in and start to work,” Ches said. “Our young kids are stepping up. We’re playing a lot of sophomores and we are seeing them mature.”
The two weeks in July means that football takes main focus for many of the Pirates being multi-sport athletes, leading to a more rested team.
“They were a little more rested 7-on-7 wise because the month of June they are doing basketball tournaments and baseball,” Setzer said. “A lot of times they are worn out because we would have them go with us in the afternoons, but they looked like they had their legs up under them today.”
Red Springs started its week off with a major shakeup in its coaching staff when defensive coordinator Adam Beene resigned to take another coaching position elsewhere, but as a defense Ches saw his team respond well.
“The kids are resilient. These are Red Springs kids,” Ches said.
Although Setzer saw a lot of positives in his team in the scrimmages, there’s cautious optimism for the veteran coach when it comes to 7-on-7.
“One of the things I’m caring about is that we still aren’t, in some areas, as experienced as I would like,” Setzer said. “I’ve been doing it long enough to get to see the athleticism, but eventually you have to put on pads.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.