Friday's football jamboree all about reps for Scott City, Chaffee, Kelly and St. Vincent
As Chance McKinley jogged off the field, a Scott City assistant football coach made sure to let him know the substitution had nothing to do with his play.
"Chance, I'm just getting him reps. Good job," the coach yelled, his voice booming across the field.
That was the theme Friday, as football season unofficially got underway with jamborees across the state. At Scott City, the hosts scrimmaged alongside Chaffee, Kelly and St. Vincent. With two games going on at once, the squads were restricted to half the field and ran 12 offensive plus 12 defensive plays before rotating to face another school. Whoever scored the most touchdowns at the end of those 24 plays won.
Scores didn't really matter, though. Coaches stood on the field during plays and doled out instructions. After the game, those same coaches struggled to recall if they won, loss or tied a particular opponent. With the regular season a week away, Friday was all about development.
"Every player that was eligible knew they were going to play, and they all got about even reps" Scott City head coach Jim May said. "That's what I told them afterwards. I said, 'At the end of the season, when they fill out our record the jamboree won't even be listed because you don't win or lose. You win or lose next week.'
"Everybody got their reps. We [took] our starters out about halfway through [each scrimmage] and put in the next guys that are trying to find that starting role. It was good to see."
The jamboree also gave coaches a chance to experiment. For Chaffee, that meant placing Landon Tenkhoff, who threw for 1,063 yards and rushed for 1,255 last year, at multiple positions. The junior, who played quarterback exclusively last season, lined up at running back and quarterback and even caught a pass or two.
In the opening game against Scott City, Tenkhoff showcased that versatility, scoring both Red Devils touchdowns. One came on a quarterback scramble while the other was a plunge at the goal line as a running back.
While Tenkhoff and Chaffee have been practicing for over a week and have participated in intrasquad scrimmages, the Red Devils got a chance Friday to see how they stacked up against other teams.
"We needed this because we were getting real stale," Chaffee coach Terry Flannigan said. "This was good for us, and it still showed our kids -- we talk about two or three things we need to improve on every day, and it showed out here tonight. You get in a little lull, lose your train of thought, then bam, you're in trouble.
"Well, they've seen it, and I was glad we've seen it here instead of having to wait until the first game."
While teams were going at full speed in pads, the jamboree did have some restrictions to avoid injuries. There was no blitzing and chop blocks, according to May.
"The last thing you want is a kid to lose his season in a jamboree, so we try to minimize the things that might cause an injury," the Rams coach said.
With nothing at stake, every player was evaluated. When Chaffee and Kelly faced off in the second of the three scrimmages, both schools used their JV players.
"We got a lot of guys some reps," Kelly coach Lance Powers said. "But the main thing tonight is we just wanted to build confidence, and I think we did that. We wanted to get downhill, and we got downhill with our running game. Overall we're excited about the kids and the effort they put forth tonight."
Kelly ended the night against Scott City. While the Hawks fell to the hosts, two touchdowns to one, they capped the scoring with a touchdown pass from junior Christian Worley, who returns at quarterback.
On the other side of the field, St. Vincent finished on a high note. After a couple of lifeless scrimmages, Indians coach Nathan Rowland saw his team get into a rhythm, holding the Red Devils scoreless and scoring a touchdown of their own.
"Our first little scrimmage against Kelly, we didn't come out and execute the way we wanted to. We were a little flat, a little slow," Rowland said. "It took them 24 plays to finally get up to speed and show what they can do against Chaffee. We just can't come out like that anymore, and they realize that. They're remembering the speed at which you play. Because you can't simulate game speed in practice, you just can't do it."
Like all the coaches, Rowland wanted the jamboree to serve as a learning experience.
Next week, it's game on. Until then, the coaches have a little more tweaking and fine-tuning planned.