There was a lot Morristown West’s head coach Alvin Sanders took from Friday’s scrimmage against Science Hill.
From the good to the bad, it all was important to see for him and his team as they battled a familiar Class 6A opponent in the Hilltoppers. The Trojans were finally able to put the pads on and hit the gridiron to see what they are about in their first of two scrimmages before the season starts.
“I saw a lot of bright spots,” Sanders said. “We had some great plays and we also had some mistakes made. This is why we do this, though. We want to keep improving for week one. We just have to continue to keep going in that direction.”
If score was taken, Science Hill would have had the best of West as the Hilltoppers scored on six of their possessions through the whole scrimmage. West was unable to see the end zone as offensive struggles haunted them outside of the rushing attack.
Each team played a handful of series with their varsity, junior varsity and freshmen teams. The Trojans’ varsity squad is nearly full of guys who have not started on varsity so this action in the scrimmage was important to them.
“We have a lot of young guys that have been thrown out there with some of our returning starters and are expected to step up,” Sanders said.
Some of those young players did step up, making big plays on both sides of the ball. Some of them, though, were still catching a feel for the big roles they have entered for the 2021 season.
Scrimmaging a team like Science Hill was the perfect opportunity for Sanders’s team to go out and learn, and it doesn’t get any easier in the next scrimmage as West travels to battle with defending Class 4A State Champion Elizabethton on the road.
“These are teams that will really test us and help us improve before the season starts,” Sanders said. “It’s a tough preseason but I want to schedule the best teams we can play so we can be ready as we play through the regular season. Facing adversity early will help us respond to it during the season.”
Adversity was just what the Trojans got against Science Hill, too.
They started the scrimmage full of energy as they forced the Hilltoppers to a three-and-out situation after recording two sacks and a tackle for loss. Unfortunately, as the Trojans began their first offensive drive, the struggles emerged.
There were a few big plays the Trojans’ offense executed with a couple of 15+ yard carries from Tison Johnson and power rushes from Hunter Delaney. Quarterbacks Noah Tripucka and Malakhi Isom each had a handful of solid reps as Tripucka made plays with his legs and Isom delivered a few balls in coverage to his receivers.
After the defenses energetic start, though, West had a difficult time holding the Hilltoppers to another three-and-out.
“These guys are fired up and have shown a lot of energy this whole week,” Sanders said. “I’m glad we were able to start with a sense of urgency but we have to keep that going the whole way. We can’t just have one possession full of energy and then let it die. Whatever happens, we have to keep fighting.”
The other aspects Sanders pointed out that he needed from his guys is playing as a unit and correcting the mistakes on the line.
“This is some of the most individual talent we have had in a few years but that can only take you so far,” Sanders said. “I always tell them it takes all 11 of us out there. I like where we stand once we clean up some of the miscommunication.
“I can’t expect perfect from our offensive and defensive line. We have a lot of new guys in those roles up front but this is why we wanted this scrimmage. We are learning a lot and improving each day.”