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Snappers to get long looks in schoolboy scrimmages

When area high school football teams utilize more shotgun plays and commit to a greater amount of spread offense, they encounter a new problem.

  It’s the same old problem known as the center-to-quarterback exchange but quarterback stays right under center so much less of the time.

  That’s why accuracy on the part of center snaps should take on its own importance in Saturday’s first pre-season scrimmage weekend.

  Bridge City tests out its new wide-open style on Saturday morning with a varsity scrimmage in BC’s Larry Ward Stadium against Anahuac at 11 a.m. Jasper and Port Neches-Groves will see what their spread offenses can do on Saturday night in Indian Stadium at 6 p.m. The Nederland at Silsbee scrimmage is scheduled for 7 p.m. with more than one Nederland center getting a chance to snap the ball.

  In many cases, the issue of finding the best snapper turns into only a portion of the offensive line coach’s concern. The need to find the best combination of offensive line players becomes an equally or more important than just finding the best snapper.

  It’s likely that seniors Michael Benefield (5-10, 205), and Albert Clavijo (6-4, 185) will join Stefan Huber as starters in three of NHS’ five interior line positions. But all three are receiving repetitions and opportunities to develop into the starting center. At least two of them will receive reps as a shotgun snapper on Saturday, says Bulldogs head coach Larry Neumann.

  “Those three (Huber, Benefield and Clavijo) all have taken shotgun snaps,” Neumann said. “We’re experimenting to seek the best combination. We may commit to some changes after we evaluate Saturday’s scrimmage.”

  The lone NHS returning offensive line starter, Huber began fall practice at the strongside guard position. Benefield was listed as the starting center with Clavijo at the strongside tackle. That’s the projection because Nederland’s coaching staff leans toward that serving as the best combination.

  Now here’s the problem with that approach. Neumann and company understand that the center snap’s margin for error is reduced down to a tiny percentage. In other words, Nederland’s centers can produce three out of four accurate snaps in a game and that might require a change. One bad snap out of every four would be a very unacceptable number for any team in a shotgun.

  Neumann and Silsbee’s coach Bubba McGallion have agreed to conduct a controlled scrimmage with very limited kicking plays and perhaps one simulated game-condition quarter of football at the end.

  When the Indians host Jasper, the PN-G coaches are more interested in establishing a more absolute backup guy at snapping the ball. The big senior Matthew Riley (5-11, 275) is the clear-cut leader for the first-team center position. But juniors Jake Taliaferro (6-2, 235) and Tanner Ross (6-1, 210) are not too far apart for the backup spot. And Indians chief Matt Burnett mentioned that Taliaferro had a chance to log considerable time on defense.

  “They’re fighting it out for the No. 2 spot,” Burnett said. “So far Riley hasn’t had any problems. He’s been pretty consistent. But it will be different (than at practice) to go in the stadium with Jasper on defense.”

  Indians quarterback Harrison Tatum is one of several PN-G players to miss some of this week’s drills to a virus which has circulated within the squad. Tatum did not practice on Monday or Tuesday of this week but was expected to play on Saturday.

  — Tom Halliburton



SATURDAY’S SCRIMMAGES

Morning (varsity times only)

    10 a.m.: Buna and Sabine Pass at Evadale

    10 a.m.: Colmesneil at Kountze

    10 a.m.: Concordia Lutheran at Hull-Daisetta

    10 a.m.: Bmt Legacy Christian at High Island

    11 a.m.: Anahuac at Bridge City

    11 a.m.: Coldspring at Orangefield

    11 a.m.: Woodville at East Chambers

    11 a.m.: Hardin at Trinity

Evening

    5 p.m.: Newton at Kirbyville

    6 p.m.: Jasper at Port Neches-Groves

    6 p.m.: Hamshire-Fannett at Lumberton

    6 p.m.: Bmt Kelly at Nacogdoches

    6 p.m.: Little Cypress-Mauriceville at Willis

    7 p.m.: Nederland at Silsbee

    7 p.m.: West Orange-Stark at Barbers Hill

Others on Saturday (times not listed)

    Diboll at Hardin-Jefferson; Santa Fe at Liberty; Deweyville at Hemphill; Warren at Tarkington; New Waverly at West Hardin.

Not holding Saturday scrimmages (due to UIL spring training rule)

    Port Arthur Memorial; Bmt Ozen; Bmt Central; Bmt West Brook; Vidor.