Southside, Northside learn from season’s first scrimmage

Published 6:23 pm Thursday, August 9, 2018

CHOCOWINITY — Facing off against the same guys in practice can get tiresome and stale for football players. After battling against teammates all summer and through the first week and a half of preseason, teams finally got a chance to square off with opposing squads on Wednesday, as many programs held their first scrimmages of the 2018 season.

Southside hosted a preseason jamboree scrimmage Wednesday, inviting cross-county rival Northside, conference foe Pamlico County, North Lenoir and Manteo to take part. The first live action of the season for these teams provided an opportunity for coaches to see how well their players are picking up what they’re being taught in practice, as well as show the coaches what they need to focus on moving forward to better prepare for the season.

Preseason scrimmages can be especially helpful for teams like the Seahawks, who are making changes to both their offensive and defensive systems this year. After years of using the wing-t on offense and a 4-3 defensive front, Southside head coach Jeff Carrow is incorporating more pistol and shotgun formations, and changing to a 3-4 defensive alignment.

TURNING ON THE JETS: Seahawk Jonquil Haywood outruns everyone to the end zone during Wednesday’s scrimmage. Haywood, one of five returning seniors for Southside, will be a key player this season as the team’s go-to running back, as well as playing on defense as a cornerback. (Sean Finnerty | Daily News)

Obviously, everybody is going to be a little rough and rusty (in the first scrimmage of the year),” Carrow said after Wednesday’s jamboree. “(The year’s first scrimmage is about) still evaluating talent, fitting guys in the right position and critiquing what we need to fix. It’s really about being able to coach them up and see what corrections we can make.”

Carrow said he was particularly pleased with his team’s ability to make adjustments and improve as the scrimmage went on. Playing against a North Lenoir defense that was loading the box, Southside struggled with protecting the quarterback early, not picking up blitzes.

But Carrow was happy with how his players responded to the coaching they received at halftime of the scrimmage.

“We didn’t make our correct calls, blitz calls and pickups, but we were able to come back, play (North Lenoir) again, pick that up, adjust the play calling and able to have a successful end-series against them,” Carrow said. “That’s the big thing, being able to fix our mistakes and be coachable enough and mature enough to do that.”

That ability to take coaching and make the necessary adjustments was the biggest positive from Wednesday in Carrow’s eyes, as Southside is especially young and inexperienced this year, returning only five starters from last season’s team.

COACHING THEM UP: Southside head coach Jeff Carrow speaks to his players after Wednesday’s scrimmage. Carrow was pleased with his team’s ability to make adjustments during the jamboree. (Sean Finnerty | Daily News)

“One of our big points as coaches and for the team is that they’re going to get coached hard. They’ve got to be able to take some hard coaching, take adjustments and be students of the game and adjust,” Carrow said. “Sometimes that’s difficult with inexperienced players’ first time. They get emotions and they have to learn how to be a ball player, especially a varsity ball player. It’s a growth process mentally and physically for them. That’s a big challenge for us as a coaching staff that we all have to keep them up but coach them hard.”

For Northside head coach Keith Boyd, Wednesday helped reveal what the Panthers need work on. While Boyd said his defense looked decent at times and was “flying around” the field at times, he was not pleased with how the offense did.

“Offensively, we just all need to get better,” Boyd said. “We’ve got to block better, we’ve got to run our routes better. Everything has got to be better. There just were not a whole lot of positives on offense.”

Wednesday didn’t go as well as Northside would’ve preferred but there were aspects that Boyd liked, namely, the fact that his players kept fighting.

“The kids hung in there and fought,” Boyd said. “ We had so many injuries and everything. We had to leave early; we didn’t have enough kids to finish because we were going down like flies.”

While Carrow and Boyd might’ve left Wednesday’s jamboree in different moods, they both know there’s room for improvement. Carrow called the scrimmage a step in the right direction for his team, but there are smaller mistakes to clean up before the season starts.

Things didn’t go smoothly for Northside, but with Boyd’s experience, he knows it’s far too early to panic.

“We were a little disappointed with how things went, but it’s early and that’s what scrimmages are for,” Boyd said. “We’ll try to go back and regroup and get better from there.”