A first spring football under a new head coach can be challenging for any team. But especially for a team like Horseshoe Bend, which has struggled lately, it could be that much more difficult.
Although for the Generals during Friday’s intersquad scrimmage, it didn’t seem like they were missing a beat at all. Horseshoe Bend’s small staff of 24 players were hard-hitting and grinding through Friday’s scrimmage, and that’s just what coach Jeremy Phillips was hoping to see.
“The boys have responded well to the coaching,” Phillips said. “We’ve been getting after them, and they’ve been getting after each other. The boys have been working hard and they’re taking on the identity that I wanted to take on as a team, so I can’t complain.”
Phillips, who comes from a brand of blue-collar football, has said he wanted to instill that onto the Generals from the get-go, and that’s exactly the identity he’s talking about.
“We’re going to be physical and we’re going to outwork everybody,” he said. “We’re going to run the football and play good defense.”
One of the biggest standouts on defense was Kendall Penwell, who was constantly breathing down his opposing teammates’ necks and never seemed to give up on a play.
“He’s a senior coming back, and he’s been playing a lot,” Phillips said. “He looked very well and he’s had a good spring. Linebacker is going to be his predominant position but he can play some offensive line as well. He’s one of those guys that’s real gritty. He has an edge on his shoulder, and I like that about him.”
Phillips also pointed to Jumall Buchanan as someone who has had a strong spring and has a bright future as a General.
“Jumalll Buchanan has a chance at having a really good year this year,” Phillips said. “He knows how to run the ball and he’s a physical runner. He’s going to be a sophomore.”
Buchanan isn’t the only upcoming sophomore or even upcoming freshman who will take the field for Phillips, who said having a young team can be a good thing. Although it might take some time to groom those younger players, Phillips is looking forward to the challenge and is excited to have them at a young age so he can help and watch them grow.
Horseshoe Bend utilized both upcoming junior Cole Johnson and upcoming sophomore Holt Tidwell at quarterback. Both spent time at the position last year, and one of the big questions heading into the summer workouts will be who will be ready to take over the position for good.
“I always think both quarterbacks need to be ready at any time,” Phillips said. “I think Cole can probably throw a little bit better than Holt, and Holt can probably run a little bit better than Cole. It’s pretty obvious when you watch them; they’re two different styles of quarterback. We’re going to go into the summer looking for some leadership skills and see who I think is going to be ready to lead us out on the field.”
Both offensively and defensively, the Generals plan to be multiple this year. Defensively, they’ll run a mix of the 3-4 and the 4-2-5, and they’ll also change things up offensively but Friday, they were in the wishbone for the majority of their snaps.
“Most of these kids have never even seen the wishbone; nowadays everyone runs the spread,” Phillips said. “I just really put an emphasis on the wishbone over the spring. We’re going to run the I and the spread too, but I just wanted to put an emphasis on it because I think we have the personnel where the bone is going to be really successful.”
Moving into the spring, a big focus for Phillips’ Generals will be continuing to hit the weight room hard to build their strength. They’ll begin summer workouts June 3.