Seahawks use last scrimmage to fine-tune

Published 6:04 pm Saturday, August 11, 2018

CHOCOWINITY — The Southside football team went through its final dry run of the preseason on Friday, hosting Washington County for a scrimmage, which was the Seahawks’ last opportunity to iron out the kinks against live competition before game one of the season.

After scrimmaging against the Panthers, Southside head coach Jeff Carrow said small details, like running crisp routes, catching the ball at its highest point in the air and holding onto the ball, were what his team needed to work on. He feels his team is “one step away from making big plays.”

“We need to do a lot better job of ball security. And that’s on us as coaches. We’ve got to do a better job,” Carrow said. “We had a couple big runs and then fumbled the ball on contact. So that’s on us (the coaches), that’s fundamental stuff.”

Carrow said the reason Washington County, which is a new school created from the combination of Plymouth and Creswell, was picked as a scrimmage partner was because of the defensive system Washington County head coach Robert Cody uses. His 3-5 defensive alignment is unique among teams in the area and Carrow felt facing off against it would be good for his team, especially the offensive line.

“(Washington County is) going to blitz and slant,” Carrow said. “I’ve got to get my linemen moving and picking up stuff. I want to be able to get them recognizing blitzes early and being able to learn how to move their feet and use their hands in the proper way.”

REACHING OUT: Hunter Tyler reaches for a pass thrown by Will Warren. Also an outside linebacker, Tyler helped score a defensive touchdown Friday by batting down a ball that teammate Quinte Peel intercepted and returned for a score. (Sean Finnerty | Daily News)

One of the biggest positives for the Seahawks from Friday’s scrimmage was the defense’s ability to force turnovers. During the live-game-situation portion of the scrimmage, Southside forced three turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

The first came on a long Washington County drive that saw the Panthers threaten to score. But then an opportunistic Richard Shavender scooped up a Washington County fumble and ran it back 80 yards for the score. The second defensive score came on the Panthers’ very next possession.

On what was third down and 20, Hunter Tyler rushed the quarterback from the outside linebacker position in Southside’s new 3-4 defense. Tyler couldn’t reach the quarterback but he used his long wingspan to bat down the ball, which Quinte Peele caught and rumbled five yards into the end zone for a pick six. The Seahawks added another fumble recovery, ripping the ball out of the arms of a Washington County running back with the Panthers 25 yards from the Southside end zone.

“That’s the kind of stuff a young defense can thrive off of and build off of,” Carrow said of the forced turnovers and defensive touchdowns.

Along with giving teams an opportunity to diagnose their own weaknesses and work on them, scrimmages give players a chance to show what they’re capable of and earn more playing time. Carrow mentioned Peyton Twitty on the offensive line, Keywon Campbell at both inside linebacker and running back and Tyler at split end and outside linebacker as players who impressed during the two scrimmages.

Now with the season-opening game less than a week away, Carrow and the Seahawks are focusing on one thing.

“Our mind’s on Ayden-Grifton right now, preparing, narrowing down our rotation and what we need and just focusing on trying to get a win Friday,” Carrow said.