The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX


May 28, 2014

HUNTSVILLE FOOTBALL — Hornets look to show what they learned, make impressions in spring game

HUNTSVILLE — The Hornets are ready for live action this week.

Spring football ends Friday with a scrimmage of two live quarters at the high school for the Huntsville squad.

Head coach Rodney Southern said he’s pleased with where the Hornets are going into today’s final practice before the spring game.

They already have all of their offensive and defensive packages in, even though there is a long way to go in refining execution.

The only aspect of special teams the players haven’t worked on is kickoff return and that could be introduced today.

As for Friday’s scrimmage, coaches just want to see who comes out focused and ready to play ball.

“I like where we are,” Southern said. “The big thing for us, we haven’t done this with officials. We’re going to have a full set of officials. I want to see how they respond as close to a game like situation as they can, obviously without coaches on the field. I won’t let any of the coaches out there because at some point, they’ve got to do it on their own. Hopefully there’s a guy who’s really had a good spring who will shine when we turn the lights on.”

A variety of groups are expected to get snaps in the two-quarter scrimmage. The Hornets are young on both sides of the ball, so it’s important for each group to get in its reps.

Sophomore Desmon Johnson is competing for a starting position at nose guard and is one of a handful of young players looking to make an impression in the spring game.

“Everybody’s pretty solid and aggressive with their hits,” Johnson said. “The coaches want us to have better pursuit angles and a whole lot of more contact, better hitting and better angles we take. I think we’re better and getting prepared right now so that in the beginning of next school year, everybody’s not lost and trying to cram everything in.

“It’s kind of tough learning a new coaching staff and trying to communicate because there are a lot of new voices. But we’re getting there.”

The most experienced players on the defensive side of the ball are defensive tackle Richard Marshall and cornerback Corey Hightower. But Southern expects a combination of players to emerge with experience.

On offense, the development of quarterback Ricko Bennett and wide receiver/running back Morie Evans has been something for coaches to key in on.

“We’re going to use Morie probably a lot more on offense than we are defense,” Southern said. “We’ll have that depth guy ready, especially a guy that’s as athletic as he is. We’ve kind of focused these last three or four days on just offense and not so much of the depth part of it. But he’ll return kicks and do a whole lot for us.

“There will be times when he’s in the backfield and there will be times when he’s in the slot. What we really try to look at with that is how are people going to match up with him. Are you going to play him with a defensive back or with a linebacker? Obviously, we think if you play him with a linebacker, we’ve got an advantage there. If you’re using a defensive back to play him, that means you’re going to be vulnerable somewhere else, we hope.”

The spring game is a great opportunity for all of the Hornets. It will be the final opportunity to get discovered before the students take their summer break.

“I’m looking forward to some big hits, some good plays on both sides of the ball,” Johnson said. “We’ve got good, talented kids on both sides of the ball that can make big plays.”

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