Faulkner County coaches came away generally pleased with their teams’ efforts in scrimmages and benefit games this week.
"Our kids were ready for something other than practice and everybody seemed to come away happy with our group," said Vilonia coach Jim Stanley, whose school hosted Rogers and Mayflower. "We had three good scrimmages and nobody got hurt, which is the main thing."
"Everybody got playing time and I don’t think we were disappointed in anybody’s performance," said Conway Christian coach Chuck Speer, whose Eagles scrimmaged at Little Rock Episcopal. "We found out some areas that we need to get a lot better and that’s why you scrimmage," said Greenbrier’s Randy Tribble, whose team scrimmaged Central Arkansas Christian and Heber Springs.
No team reported any major injuries, "which is the main thing you worry about," said Tribble.
In a half of play, the Eagles defeated Rogers 14-7, scoring on a 45-yard run by Drew Knowles and a 40-yard pass from Knowles to Trey Lewis. Extra points were kicked by James Gardner.
In another half, Zac Mitchell returned an interception 102 yards for a touchdown as Vilonia outscored Mayflower, 21-0. James Sax scored on runs of 50 and 40 yards. Gardner kicked three extra points.
Vilonia defeated Rogers’ junior varsity, 7-0. "We’ve worked so hard and we came out and did well in all areas, I was really pleased with the kids," Stanely said. "We’ve still got to cut down on mistakes, but we’ve got everything on film and know what we have to work on."
The Eagles will be one of the first teams to open the season, playing at 5:30 p.m. Monday against Sylvan Hills in the First Security Classic at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
"There’s not much time to get ready," Stanley said. "We’ve got to turn around and get on the ball."
The Panthers played a half against Heber Springs and the teams tied 6-6. Greenbrier then edged Central Arkansas Christian 14-13.
The frontline players saw limited snaps in both segments.
"There were mixed opinions as there are in any first scrimmage," Tribble said. "Our frontline defensive line and offensive line, where we got some of the same guys returning, played really well at times. Hunter Winston made some big plays at running back. Our quarterbacks and receivers were not consistent. We learned a lot of what we need to do to get better and that’s why you scrimmage.
"We feel it’s very important to develop depth so we gave a lot of playing time to our second- and third teamers."
He said quarterback Neal Burcham had two turnovers. "He doesn’t have turnovers much so he was up and down," Tribble said.
"He’s had a good preseason camp. But the first time you go against a different-colored jersey, things are just different and you get some different looks. We hope he got the turnovers out of his system." Greenbrier hosts Beebe in their season opener Friday, Sept. 3.
The Eagles and Little Rock Episcopal ran a set number of plays, then played a quarter under game conditions with CCS prevailing 8-7. Jackson Wilson scored on a 10-yard run and Ashton Robinson added the two-point conversion on a pass form Kirby Powell. "Everybody looked pretty good," said Speer.
"Episcopal had a good team and we saw what we needed to do and work on defense. We ran a pretty vanilla offense but we saw what we were looking for and our kids did what they were expected to do." CCS hosts Arkansas Baptist in its season opener on Sept. 3.
The Eagles had the toughest luck as Rogers scored on a 35-yard pass in the final seconds to win their half of the scrimmage, 21-14. Mayflower opens the season Sept. 3 at Dumas.