The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Sports

August 10, 2013

HORNETS FOOTBALL — Impressive display at Green and White scrimmage

Hornets first-team offense, defense shines in Green and White scrimmage

HUNTSVILLE — Drenched in sweat, Huntsville center Collin Bradford walked off the sizzling Bowers Stadium turf Saturday afternoon, shoes in his hands. Bradford held one shoe in his left hand and parts of the other shoe in his right.

“Check it out,” Bradford said. “It was so hot out there my shoe fell apart.”

Bradford wasn’t the only one who lost the bottoms of their turf cleats. The glue came undone on the shoes of two of Bradford’s teammates, but those were the only casualties the Hornets had on a short, but productive day.

“I think we got more of a heat workout today than anything else,” coach Shane Martin said after the Hornets put the wraps on their hourlong Green and White watermelon scrimmage. “But it was good. Despite the heat, the tempo was still good. We were flying around out there and I think we’re in pretty good shape.”

The Hornets scored a pair of long touchdowns early in Saturday’s annual intrasquad scrimmage, then the No. 1 offense yielded the field for the rest of the mid-afternoon practice game.

Senior quarterback Malik Brown connected with senior receiver Christain Champine for a 70-yard touchdown throw on the opening play of the scrimmage.

“Me and Malik have been playing together for a while,” Champine said, “so that play just kind of clicked.”

Martin added, “The offense got things going early and set the tone for the day. It was nice opening up with a big touchdown pass to Champine. Malik threw a great ball.”

Six plays later, junior Da’Cuan Jenkins reeled in a 42-yard TD pass from Brown. Jenkins’ touchdown catch capped a nifty six-play, 70-yard drive that mixed four solid runs in between a pair of completed passes. Junior Morie Evans carried the ball once, Brown picked up 10 yards on a quarterback keeper and junior Harold Johnson gained about 13 yards on a pair of rushes.

A few plays after the Hornets’ second score, Brown and his teammates on the first-team offense were done for the day.

“They told us it would be short,” said Brown, who completed 3-of-4 passes for 113 yards. “The coaches didn’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Huntsville’s No. 1 defense hit the field next. They gave an equally impressive showing against the scout team offense.

Senior defensive tackle Cody Garcia played the role of a brick wall on a quarterback draw play. The Hornets’ defense dominated the line of scrimmage, and late in that possession, Jenkins popped a running back behind the line of scrimmage for a 5-yard loss.

“I thought the scrimmage went really good,” said Jenkins, who shot up an inch this summer and added about 20 pounds of muscle on his already healthy frame. “We’re continuing what we did last year, so we don’t have to learn a lot right now. For the juniors and seniors, we’re just adding on to what we did last year. We’ve made a few changes and we’re adapting to those gradually.”

Senior Ryan Bristow quarterbacked the second offensive unit on a drive that didn’t get going until senior Trent Bell ripped off a 22-yard run across midfield. A play later, coaches blew the whistle on that 10-play possession.

Before calling it a day, junior Nick Vanecek took a turn under center for the Hornets. Playing behind the starting offensive line that includes Ronnie Major, Parker Blount and Bradford, Vanecek completed a short pass and had another one batted down.

Huntsville’s second-team defense allowed only one first down during a 10-play possession. The Hornets concluded the scrimmage with a couple of punts, then after a short meeting with Martin, they rushed off the turf and across the parking lot.

Watermelon, courtesy of Northside Baptist Church, was waiting in the shade outside Bowers Stadium.

“No doubt, we saw what we needed to see,” Martin said. “The kids got out here in the heat and fought through a little adversity. Malik showed off his big-time arm, Harold Johnson ran the ball well and the offensive line blocked pretty well. We had a few busts there, but nothing that can’t be fixed.

“Defensively, I thought we ran to the ball pretty well and tackled when we got there. All in all, I’m very satisfied with what took place out here today.”

The Hornets have two more scrimmages prior to the season opener Aug. 30 at home against Humble. On Friday morning starting at 9, all three of Huntsville’s teams — varsity, junior varsity and freshman — play Porter in New Caney. Then on Aug. 23, Huntsville hosts Conroe in what has become a regular preseason meeting between the Hornets and Tigers.

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