Panthers a work in progressPublished 4:30pm Friday, July 19, 2013
It was a tough sequence. Cornerback Reggie Slade had been out of position on a few plays and beat on a few others. However, Slade bounced back and when Southside challenged him on a short comeback route he found himself in perfect position to defend it and slapped the ball away to earn a raucous round of applause from his coaching staff.
It’s what summer football is all about.
Northside coach Keith Boyd does not expect perfection during 7-on-7’s, but he does expect his team to learn from its mistakes and said the team is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was this time last season.
“I believe we’re much further ahead then we were last year just for the simple fact that we have the same kids coming back so our offensive and defensive packages haven’t had to be tweaked a whole lot. The kids are familiar with what we’re doing,” Boyd said. “Plus, we didn’t do things like (7-on-7’s) last year and this will really help us in the long run.”
Northside participated in four 7-on-7s this summer with the last one being a round-robin exhibition with Southside, Manteo and Camden in which the hosting Panthers served up hotdogs and beverages upon conclusion of the contest.
While the 7-on-7s greatly benefit the offensive in terms of timing, route running and passing, Boyd eyes were more focused on the defensive side of the ball as he unit worked on the complexities of zone coverage.
“We’re just learning how to play zone defense,” Boyd said. “It’s something that the kids aren’t real familiar with. They haven’t learned it at the lower levels a whole lot because they are so used to playing man but at this level they have to learn how to do a little bit of both.
“That’s what we’ve focused on during the 7-on-7’s, the defensive part. We’re trying to teach kids where to be and to get out of that man-to-man thinking.”
Like Slade, the team improved with more reps.
“It got better as we went on,” Boyd said. “It’s like anything else, the more you do it the better it’s gong to get. … Our last possession against Southside was really good.”
Offensively, the Panthers were without expected starting quarterback Malik Slade, giving backups Noel Howsin and Antonio Woods a heavier workload and Boyd said he was pleased with what he saw.
“(Slade’s) been here everyday but he just went out of town and it gave us a chance to work with our No. 2 and No. 3 and I thought they got better,” Boyd said. “Howsin is going to get some snaps at quarterback, he really is. We’re going to try to get it in his hands because when he’s not playing quarterback he’s going to play wing. He’s a speed guy for us and we’re hoping he can stretch the field vertically.”
Upon conclusion of the scrimmage the Panthers will take a short break and resume official team practice on Aug. 1 at 7 a.m.