MJHS coach pleased with Blue-White effort
For the most part, Monticello Junior High football coach Kenny Pace got what he wanted from his team's Blue-White game Friday, August 21.
"There were a few mistakes here and there, but that's to be expected," Pace said. "We wanted to see how they reacted to being here under the lights in front of people, and they did a great job. They played hard, and that's what we're really looking for."
Monticello fans got their first look at three Billie squads Friday at Hyatt Field, though the Sr. Billies offered only a glimpse. MHS coach Van Pascal wanted to keep his players fresh for their scrimmage with Dumas just three days later.
The eighth- and ninth-grade Billies went 11-on-11 throughout their portions of the scrimmage and served up some highlights for the crowd. Zain Jones broke two long touchdown runs for the eighth-graders, and teammates Devontrius Chaffin and Chris Kelley each had long TD runs as well.
A touchdown run by P.J. Binns capped the opening drive of the ninth-grade scrimmage. The next series ended with a fumble at the 1-yard line after a bad exchange on a handoff.
It was one of two turnovers for the ninth-grade Billies, neither of which troubled Pace much. He was mainly concerned with how his quarterbacks read the option, something they've spent much of their practice time working on.
"(The turnovers are) very correctable," he said. "We were looking for our quarterbacks to read the option a little bit, and they did a pretty good job. Of course, we always want to get better. It's early in the year, so we've got time to get better."
Following the turnover near the goal line, Jaquarius Davis broke what would have been a 95-yard touchdown run had coaches not whistled the play dead. The defense then dug in its heels and prevented the offense from crossing midfield for the remainder of the scrimmage.
Pace said he was happy with the defensive effort, considering several potential starters were logging time with the offense.
"It's not really a starting defense yet," he said. "We can see how they responded on film, and that will tell us a lot."
The Sr. high scrimmage was more of an opportunity for the fans to meet the 2009 Billies. There was very little contact, with the offenses working against air for the most part.
There was some brief live work late in the scrimmage but whistles were quick and players generally avoided tackling to the ground. Brishen Mathews had an interception for the first-team defense.
The Billies saw considerably more action during a scrimmage with Dumas on Monday, August 24, and are scheduled to open the regular season Monday, August 31, when they face DeQueen in the first game of the Arkansas high school season.
The game will open Simmons First/Hootens.com Kickoff Week and is set for 7 p.m. at Arkansas-Pine Bluff's Golden Lions Stadium.
The Jr. Billies, meanwhile, will scrimmage at Fordyce on Thursday, August 27, beginning with the eighth-grade game at 5:30 p.m. The season opener for the ninth-grade Billies is 7 p.m. September 3 at Warren.
The eighth-grade Billies open a week later when MJHS hosts Sheridan, beginning at 5:30 p.m.