CL Hawks Improve after First Scrimmage
Canyon Lake vs Medina Valley Panthers
Canyon Lake Football served up a big glass TD’s to the Panthers.
The second and final scrimmage of the 2105 Hawk football season got under way this past Thursday at 5pm in Castroville as the 5-A Medina Valley Panthers took on the 4-A Canyon Lake Hawks on a breezy and cooler than expected night for high school football in August.
When this night was over and was all said and done, the Panthers were glad to see the Hawks leave.
The evening started with a scrimmage format, having the field split into two with each team starting on their 45 yard line in opposite directions with a 30 minute continuous running clock.
The idea with the running clock was to get as many plays as possible during that time frame.
The Junior Varsity started on defense and while the freshman started on offense to begin the evening and it wasn’t long before both Hawk teams had scored.
The JV’s defensive CB Jesse Andrade cut in front of a Panther wide receiver in the flats and picked off the pass at full speed and had more open real-estate in front of him than what Donald Trump owns.
“I just covered my area like coaches had been teaching us all month and closed the distance with the receiver as fast as I could and cut him off and grabbed the ball” said Andrade.
There wasn’t a Panther around for fifteen yards in any direction as the whistle blew to end the play.
Andrade said the three things that the JV Hawks had improved upon from last week was, “having the secondary tighten up, communications was much improved on defense and that each player could better identify their own mistakes and learn from them before next week’s game”.
The JV Panthers gathered their composure and manage to rack up three scores for their offense on 29 plays.
After the first 30 minutes of play the JV’s teams switched around and now it was the Hawks turn to handle the ball on offense. The Hawks 1st offense got the ball and wasted no time in scoring on the 4th play.
The Hawk JV managed to score three times on offense as players were being switched around in different scenarios to find that right solid mix in tonight’s scrimmage.
The offense drove the ball well on gains of 11, 18, 30, 17, 5 and 4 yards in different scenarios and on different drives during that 30 minute clock.
The JV scored three times on offense and Colton McDonald came through for the Hawks offense and scored on a 11 yard touchdown run and seemed to be everywhere the Hawks needed him in to be in every aspect of the game.
At the same time the JV was working on their game, the freshman team were taking care of business on their end of the field.
In 30 minutes of offense the freshman ran 37 plays, scored 9 nine times and rolled up on Medina Valley like a cheap set of house blinds.
At an average rate of 4.1 plays per score they had the Panther defense moving backwards on almost every play.
A combination of speed and an offensive line with their blocking schemes took a toll on the Panthers with scores of 15, 40, 23, 32, 25, 27, 12, 3 and 33 yards where accounted for by both the first and second team offenses.
The O-line really took a toll on the Panther defensive line as the Panthers did everything they could cram eight defenders in the box.
It did not help, as the Hawks found the corner and ran outside the box for several scores.
Jacob Neel caught a pass for 27 yards up the middle into touchdown heaven for the Hawks on the last play of their possession to drive the final nail into a Panther coffin.
“The clock was running down quickly and they called a pass play and I knew I had to clear the line quickly to get into the open”, said Neel.
At the swingman position Neel moved past his coverage and found himself in uncharted territory all alone looking for the ball.
Neel said,“ I remembered thinking, just catch the ball no matter what and don’t let the Mike linebacker catch me and throw me to the ground like he did just a few plays earlier.”
The pass got there and Neel walked into the end zone for an easy score.
The Medina Valley Panthers got their turn on offense but they were not as fortunate.
They managed 26 plays and scored twice for an average of 13.5 plays per scoring drive, with two passes of 27 and 35 yards.
The Hawk defense led by Greyson Lee accounted for 4 pass breakups, 5 plays for losses, and one fumble which stopped the Panthers five of their seven possessions.
Lee accounted for nine tackles at middle linebacker.
Lee said, “Tonight I believe our team improved on wrapping up the runner down low around the legs and waist, along with a better tackling form.”
“Our intensity was up because we had never been here before and didn’t know what to really expect from a larger school but with our speed and coaching we were able to get to our assignment area for each defensive call.”
If this combination of a strong defense and meat grinding quick offense can stay humble, intense, and follow the coaching, the Freshman may win a few games like the freshman before them last year.
After the JV and freshman teams put the Medina Valley crowd back in their seats the Varsity took the field with a different scrimmage format. Each team had 15 offensive plays starting from their own 30 yard line with a full complement of referees and no running clock.
The Hawks started as the first team offense took the field to begin the showdown.
Austin Brennan took the first play for 6 yards up the middle and then Robert Woods hammered down the next two plays for 11 and 9 yards respectively.
On the next play, Quarterback Ben Fulton found Heath McDonough for a 30 yard pass reception which got the Hawks into Panther territory.
A false start backed up the Hawks but it was quickly gained back by Brennan’s 14 yd gain on the next play to get the Hawks, first and goal at the five yard line.
Brennan got the ball for 3 yards and Woods trotted into the end zone for 2 yards and capped an 8 play scoring drive.
Offensive lineman Keith Hutson said that,” our communications with one another on the line improved, which turned into better blocking schemes for the line, which in turn got our backs larger holes to run through”.
It would seem so as the Hawk O-line had a few mistakes but seemed to pull it together afterwards and drive into the defense.
Of the three things which went well tonight or improved upon what Hutson said, “execution, communication with each other and lastly our favorite quote from Coach Greene- ‘getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
The Hawks switched some 1st team players out and got after it. The Panther received a heavy dose of Brennan and Micah St. John.
After an incomplete pass and loss on the next play Brennan caught a pass in a tip drill fashion off a Panther defensive back which was good for 29 yards and a first down.
St. John was stuffed for no gain on the next play but three plays later he got his revenge and ripped off a 41 yard run through the back side of the O-line, finally being brought down on the 9 yard line.
Another hard charger on the Offensive-line – Allen Vavrecka had mentioned that, “the flow and rhythm of the O-line had improved since last week and the first steps from the snap had also improved as well as sticking with the blocks longer after initial contact greatly improved.”
The Hawk Defense was ready to go next and shut down the Panthers on their first set plays 3 and out. Hayden lee and Brandon Courtney came up big with key tackles and pass deflections.
The Panthers went to the air and completed 38 and 25 yd passes and managed to rack up the rest on the ground though some crafty plays coming from their open spread on 11 plays and finally scored with three plays remaining.
It seemed everyone on the defense had a hand in getting their arms around a Panther runner, QB or receiver on this series.
The 2nd team Offense took over for the Hawks for the next 15 plays and drove the ball with some consistency in true Slot “T” style with grinding yard gains all the way down the field until a costly fumble ended the drive after the 9th play.
Until that fumble, the Panthers still did not have an answer for the Hawks offense.
The Median Valley Panthers 2nd team offense was less fruitful than the fist team offense with marginal gains in the passing lanes which was shut down by some new comers to the varsity squad Haden Reid, Luke Justice and Jacob Ruff.
The Panthers never did reach the end zone on this second round of plays.
The only freshman on the field for the Hawks tonight was Jacob Ruff.
Ruff racked up 4 tackles and 1 assist as he played middle and outside linebacker during the night.
When asked what he thought was different about tonight verses playing last year in 8th grade, Ruff calmly said, “the speed of the players, the quickness of the game and how intense everything is around you.”
Inquiring on how nervous he was at the start of the game Ruff said, “I was really nervous but after two or three plays I got in the saddle and didn’t think too much about what I was going to do and just played my game.”
It will be interesting to see if Ruff can earn a spot on Varsity. If he does, we have a feeling that his freshman class will support him and press on with pride as the Varsity will have gained a humbled yet driven individual.
The last part of this scrimmage had a running 2 quarter clock, full officiating, with penalties but no returns for punts, the officials would just put the ball down where the receiver caught the ball and this would be treated like a real game.
The Hawks had the ball first and made a few yards but a loose handle with the ball on 3rd down foiled another Hawk drive as the Hawks punted it away to the Panthers. However the Panthers were stopped well short of gaining 3 yards as the Hawk defense shut them down to a three and out in quick fashion.
The Hawks rallied behind QB Brandon Courtney on the 3rd play, Courtney hit Austin Brennan for a quick strike pass down field 45 yards and the second Canyon Lake touchdown of the night.
Mike Thorpe added the PAT and the Hawks were up by two scores to one.
The Panthers got it going offensively for four plays just to have the Hawk defense shut it down once again by breaking up passes, causing fumbles and putting a lot pressure on their QB thus making him as accurate as cork gun at a county fair.
Canyon Lake took over and the offense applied runs with Brennan ripping one loose for 35 yards off the right side on the third play.
Matt Adams took the ball three consecutive plays and behind a rolling front line and H-backs hit pay dirt for the hawks for the third score of the night as time ran out for the two quarters of play.
Both sides of the ball had large improvements for the Hawks, from the first scrimmage last week and it showed tonight.
The big run play showed up as well as some timely pass plays to keep the defense honest.
This young team learned quickly from some simple errors and came back each time better than before.
The Panthers could not find a fence or tree high enough to jump to, as I’m sure it felt like they were running with the bulls all night.
The Hawks will have to dig deeper next Friday night when Blanco comes to town in the traditional season opener at Hawk Stadium 7:30 pm kick off time.
If the Hawks can bring it together like the team did tonight, then Medina Valley Panthers won’t be the only Panthers looking to climb a tree in order to survive.
by Cory Martelli