All the bells and whistles were out for Reeltown’s Blue-White intersquad scrimmage Friday night. The stands were packed full; the marching band was playing; and the cheerleaders were hollering. But more than anything, it was clear the Rebels are already hungry for another football season.
Divided evenly talent-wise, Reeltown took the field for an intersquad scrimmage where Blue scored a pair of touchdowns, including a game-icing pick six by Johnny Brown in the final minute of the game, to finish off White, 12-0.
While some teams like facing other squads to end their spring practice period, the Rebels elected to host a scrimmage again this year. The biggest reason was it takes a lot of pre-planning to host a spring game, and with Reeltown coming off an injury-ridden season, there was too many questions up in the air. That has its positives and its negatives, according to Rebel coach Matt Johnson.
“We wanted to spend those 10 days just focusing on Reeltown,” he said. “The downside of it is you really just don’t know how you line up against anybody else. Against us, we look like we got after it. So that’s either we’re pretty good on both sides of the ball or we’re not too good on either side of the ball and somebody is going to show us that.”
Although a spring game leaves a lot of questions unanswered, it also does resolve some of those things. First and foremost, Johnson is confident his team is on the right track physically and effort-wise.
“I love our physicality and love how we got after it,” Johnson said. “That’s been my goal, and that’s where we’re at. There were some daggum thuds and getting after it, and that’s what I like seeing.”
There were also some big highlights for Johnson, especially on the defensive side of the ball. With guys like Cameron Faison and Logan Hunt back as well as the return of injured Eric Shaw and Tre Tre Hughley, the offense should be fairly well taken care of. But Reeltown lost quite a lot defensively, and while there are still some questions, Johnson said he was especially pleased with his front line.
“It’s hard for me to tell without looking at film, but I will say live and in living color, Dee Griffin had an unbelievable game at defensive end and so did Nelson Whaley,” Johnson said. “Both of them were on opposite sides, and our defensive front was nasty. They looked really good. Our biggest question is at linebacker, but the way our defensive front looked, that’s promising.”
Another standout came in the form of Marcus Haynes, a youngster who will move up to varsity this year and made several plays on both sides of the ball.
“Marcus Haynes is an athlete,” Johnson said. “He really had a great career in our junior program for three years. He’s an upcoming sophomore, and I really expect a lot out of him.”
Scooter Brooks and Iverson Hooks are also both upcoming sophomores who spent some time on varsity last year who looked strong during Friday’s scrimmage.
Despite being dressed, the highly-recruited Shaw did not get in on the action Friday but he was clearly itching to get on the field.
“I think there was three or four times he came out on the field and begged me to let him in,” Johnson said. “He is perfectly fine. He’s gone through all spring everything except live-action contact. He’s been cleared; he’s good to go but obviously the longer we can go and prolong that without him getting in there, the stronger he is going to get.”
Hughley is still in his rehabbing process, according to Johnson.
Because the Rebels were split down the middle, there were some younger guys getting in on the varsity action, and plays looked a bit different due to that new personnel. But Johnson said not to expect Reeltown football to change too much.
“We just have some young guys and inexperience in some situations; that’s just going to happen when you’re 2A and you’re splitting your team,” Johnson said. “But as far as different stuff, it’s still the same stuff. There were a couple different wrinkles in there because of different personnel, but we’re still going to have the same identity.”