Titans’ first scrimmage totally controlled

Published 8:52 pm Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kenny Harrison enjoyed Port Arthur Memorial’s practice Monday night so much that he called it “by far” the best practice of preseason camp.
“We started off the first couple of days with the rain being really bad [last week],” the ninth-year head coach said. “We had to play around in that. Once the weather cleared up, it got extremely hot.”
But in Monday’s night practice, the Titans shined.
Harrison wants them to do that again Friday morning in the first of two preseason scrimmages, when they host former District 21-6A rival Baytown Sterling. In fact, the scrimmage is titled “Our Day to Shine.”
The event has been designated as the Texas High School Coaches Education Foundation’s Benevolence Fund, which benefits families of athletes who suffer catastrophic injuries in sporting events. Admission to the scrimmages, which start at 8 a.m. with the freshmen followed by the JV at 9 a.m., is $1.
Harrison, the Region 5 representative for the Texas High School Coaches Association, is a big supporter of the fund.
“It’s huge,” Harrison said, “simply because it’s something THSCA does not just for football but all sports. Anytime a young man or young lady sustains an injury or death, a check goes out from THSCA to the family. I support that 110 percent.
“That’s definitely something I’d still be interested in even if I weren’t on the board of directors.”
The varsity scrimmage, which starts at 10:10 a.m., is entirely controlled, so no game clock will be used. The first strings of both teams will run 12 plays on each unit, with the second strings to go 10 plays each. Both teams will work on field goals and extra points before the first and second units each go 10 more plays, then the first strings will do 10 plays each of red zone work.
“We’re looking to get our offensive line to continue to jell,” said Harrison, who only has Brian Roy and Nakoven Lewis returning up front from last season. “That’s very important. We’ll play a few of those guys trying to get the right combination. We’re trying to build depth on both sides of the ball.”
Memorial has five returning starters on offense and six on defense from a 10-2 team that shared the 22-5A championship with Port Neches-Groves and Vidor and went to the 5A Division I Region III semifinals.

Nothing will be scripted about Port Neches-Groves’ scrimmage against back-to-back 4A Division II state champion West Orange-Stark.
Ninth-year PNG coach Brandon Faircloth prefers playing four 12-minute quarters rather than scripting any part of the workout.
“I think it’s a good dress rehearsal,” Faircloth said. “It lets us work on organization on sidelines between the offense, defense and special teams. In a regular scrimmage, you don’t get to do those things. So, it’s good to get those kids in the flow of the game.”
Playing a full game, so to speak, allows the Indians, who were 11-2 last year and 5A Division II Region III semifinalists, to be challenged, Faircloth said. That way, they can focus Monday on the things they didn’t do well.
And who better to be challenged by than a twice-defending state championship team, right?
“Obviously, they’re an amazing program,” Faircloth said. “They’ll be a great test for us in the scrimmage. They’ll definitely show us what areas we need to work on.”
Faircloth’s been happy with the Indians’ energy during the past two weeks.
“Our seniors have done a great job of leadership,” he said. “They’ve done a great job of practice. I’m really proud of the seniors.”

For his first scrimmage in charge, Nederland coach Monte Barrow is doing a little bit of both.
The first portion of his rehearsal at Sheldon C.E. King on Friday will include eight plays of first-team vs. first-team action for each unit, followed by eight plays for each second-team unit. The process will be repeated before both King and Nederland used two 12-minute periods.
How far along the Bulldogs are in their preparations for the season when Barrow and his staff are still installing things is hard to say, he said. He expects to have a better idea against King and next Thursday at home against Crosby.
“I think it’ll be a good measuring stick before we get to Game 1 against West Orange [Stark], which we’ll not be as far as we need to be, but we’ll have to continue growing after that,” Barrow said.
Barrow is still trying to finalize a depth chart on a team with only five two-year lettermen. The scrimmage against King will give him what he calls “a higher form of evaluation” on his bunch.
“Come next Monday, practice may look a little different based on what happens this Friday,” he said.
So far, the Bulldogs have done and gone “beyond” what Barrow has asked of them, especially during a wet first week of camp.
“It hasn’t slowed them down one bit,” he said. “They’re working toward a common goal they set back in January, and that hadn’t changed over the summertime. I think they’re ready to get a different color across them.”

Sabine Pass’ scrimmage at Deweyville, scheduled for Aug. 25, has been canceled.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

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About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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