The Blue Jay faithful got their first look at the 2018 football teams during the annual Blue-White Scrimmage at Al Simpler Stadium Friday.
The evening started with the youth recreation teams and the middle school teams showcasing their hard work over the last few weeks in front of parents, family and friends.
After the younger players were complete the Blue Jays took the field and led a mass formation of stretches with all the players welcome to join. Players stretched from goal line to goal line in a sea of blue, red and white.
After a couple drills the Blue Jays took their first kickoff of the season and the demonstration was underway.
Coach Randall Zimmerman was overall happy with the performance of his players, yet admitted there was room for improvement as they prepare to host Hays in the season opener next Friday.
“We saw some really good things,” he said. “We had a really good two weeks of practice but tonight was not really crisp, not really sharp. That’s all what we wanted. It was dress rehearsal. We talked to them about it today. We wanted to come out, be crisp, get a few reps and make things right and go. We had some silly alignment penalties, false-start penalties and not the correct guys on the field some times. I guess that’s what it’s all about.”
Zimmerman said that he’s glad the mistakes were made during the scrimmage as opposed to during a game.
“Getting it out of the way (now) so we can get it cleaned up,” he said. “Overall I feel very, very good at where we are at.”
The Blue Jays look to be a speed heavy team in the offensive backfield using misdirection from the quarterbacks, multiple option routes for the quarterback and speed by the running backs.
Sophomore Russel Wilkey worked several runs pass the defense, breaking multiple tackles on his way down field before whistles were blown to stop the action.
“The thing with Russell — he plays hard.,” Zimmerman said “He practices hard, he lifts hard, he does everything all out, he competes hard in all other sports — he just goes the way you want all your kids to go. Because he practices so hard, it’s just habit. That’s how he plays. We have other guys that are just as fast, but it’s not how fast you are — it’s how fast you play. “
Zimmerman said he is happy with all the players on the teams.
“I’m pleased with all of them,” he said. “We could be a really, really quick team. We could have speed everywhere but we have to get really comfortable with what we are doing. Let go of some of the individual stuff and let it happen, let it happen.”
With the happiness of the teams overall performance, there was some things that caught Zimmerman’s eye that he and his coaches will work on this next week.
“We are physically in condition,” he said “We are not mentally in condition. What I mean by that is the last three or four days we had 75- to 80-degree weather. Tonight was 99-degree weather but it was between our ears (mentally). Our reps were reduced and they were a lot slower in practice. But I think we got beat up by outside stuff mentally. That’s what I’m talking about, I don’t think we are in mental condition yet.”
The varsity players stayed in for several repetitions before making way to the second string, junior varsity and freshmen teams. Zimmerman stated earlier in the week that he would just that to give the younger players more time on the field in order to save the varsity team from potential injury before beginning the season.
After the scrimmage was complete the team gathered near midfield and several seniors spoke up about what they saw in order to motivate and guide their teammates and younger players.
“There are some guys stepping up and being some great leaders,” Zimmerman said. “Not just by the way they’re practicing, but by what they are saying and acting in the hallways. I couldn’t be more proud of the advancement that Javontez Brime has made, Aaron Hamilton and all those guys have really stepped up. Corbin Sanner, Jacob Smith in his own way. Rooster (Adams) is being really vocal. We’ve just got some really good leaders. We really, really truly do and we’ve got a bunch of great kids. We just have to make sure we get all of them to buy-in and all of them to come along and get everybody all in.”
Zimmerman said that he would allow the players time to relax over the weekend before they enter game week on Monday as they prepare for a new challenge in Hays under a new coach.
“It’s the toughest preparation probably — it’s week one against a coach that is new,” he said. “They are completely different, we don’t have much film on them but we have been researching pretty hard to find film way back when he was head coach at other high schools and all that stuff. We’ve been doing a lot more work, week one, because it’s a new system and a new coach they we normally would.”
The Blue Jays open the season Friday, Aug. 31 against the Hays Indians kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Al Simpler Stadium.