For the first time in months, the Adairsville Tigers football team got to line up against an opponent and do some hitting.
Taking advantage of a new GHSA rule permitting spring scrimmages, the Tigers traveled to Armuchee Thursday for some spring ball, taking on the Indians, a Class 2A team.
“You definitely get those nerves coming back, even though it’s just a scrimmage,” Adairsville player Bryce Burgess said. “There’s no real score, but any time I get to go out there with my boys, it’s always a good opportunity.”
Spring scrimmages have dual goals of being competitive and letting coaches see what they have, and this one had some modifications to the rules to allow that. Teams switched off sequences of 10 plays each on offense, and coaches stood on the field behind the line of scrimmage to observe and call plays.
Reed Hughes got the scrimmage off to a good start for Adairsville, flying in to deliver a big hit on a screen on the very first play of Armuchee’s first sequence.
The Tigers defense would, in fact, play well for most of the night, with three lapses on long passes allowing three Indians touchdowns, the only ones they would score.
Josh Honea and Savaughn Henderson intercepted passes for Adairsville, with Henderson’s, coming late in the scrimmage, a certain touchdown if his return hadn’t been whistled dead.
“Defensively, running to the football, that was what we wanted to see tonight,” Adairsville coach Eric Bishop said. “We were real proud of what we saw defensively.”
On offense, the Tigers, missing graduated starter Roger Redd, trotted Mason Boswell out to start the first sequence at quarterback, but would play a different signal caller in each of their five sequences.
The starter Boswell was followed by Michael Cook, Burgess, B.J. Roper and Derrick Simmons.
“That competition will continue all the way to August 1,” Bishop said. “We saw some really good things, had some kids grow up.”
Boswell led a touchdown drive, keeping the ball and running a few times, hitting Ethan Belcher, Daylon Bailey and Reed Hughes with passes, and letting running back Burgess do some of the work as well.
It was Burgess who finished the drive, wriggling his way out of a tackle on about the 10-yard line and finishing off a 23-yard touchdown run.
“It was good to see,” Bishop said. “We feel like we have so many ways to attack the defense. Whatever they’re taking away, they’re giving us something, so we’ll continue to keep that philosophy.”
The next Armuchee possession saw the secondary issues raise their head, with the Indians quarterback hitting first Will Hubbard and then, after the ball had been reset following the score, Tae Allen on deep touchdown passes.
Allen would add another score later on, catching a pass deep over the middle and powering through Adairsville’s secondary for the score.
“We were tired there, running kids in and out,” Bishop said. “You’re not in football shape, for us, it’s only been eight practices now, so kids are not nearly in as good a shape now as they will be when we hit the field in August.”
Following Cook’s stint at quarterback, Boswell and Burgess saw their opening roles reversed, with Burgess going under center and Boswell right behind him at tailback.
Roper followed, showing life with a 20-yard scramble on one play, but it took until Derrick Simmons’ sequence for the Tigers to score again, as Simmons got loose and took it himself down the right sideline for a 60-yard touchdown.
Adairsville couldn’t add another touchdown to tie the score up before the game ended, but that wasn’t the concern of Bishop and his coaching staff.
“We had an opportunity to get a lot of kids in a lot of different positions,” Bishop said. “We’ve had a good spring, dealt with a lot of adversity that the kids and the coaching staff had to deal with ... but I was real proud of how everyone responded and proud of what we saw out here tonight.”