Mantanzas High School’s intrasquad football scrimmage gave new players a chance to get some live snaps and experienced players a chance to get some extended time in their primary and secondary positions.
The Pirates closed their preseason camp with the two-hour scrimmage on Aug. 12 on their practice field as parents and fans lined the fence to watch.
At the end, head coach Matt Forrest, who was working on his birthday, received a cake from the booster club and a water-cooler dunking from his players.
With a week left before the Pirates’ kickoff classic against a talented Mainland team, Forrest was pleased with what he saw.
“We are competing a lot better than we have competed in the past,” he said. “I think we flew around to the ball. I think we made plays on offense. We’re just playing a lot faster with a lot more discipline and lot better effort. Our effort is great, our discipline is great, and our execution is so much further than where we’ve been at.”
“We’re just playing a lot faster with a lot more discipline and lot better effort. Our effort is great, our discipline is great, and our execution is so much further than where we’ve been at.”
Matanzas was 3-7 last year. But the Pirates have a lot of reasons to be positive heading into a new season, starting with Dakwon Evans, who is entering his second season at quarterback.
“The biggest difference you’re going to see with him from last year is he’s a lot more of a vocal leader. He’s really accepted and kind of made that role his own,” Forrest said.
Evans wore a red jersey during the scrimmage which meant he was a no-contact player.
“Obviously we blew some quick whistles with him, but I thought he managed the offense really well,” Forrest said. “I thought he went through his progressions really well, he made some really good passes and his check-downs were really good, just getting us out of some bad situations.”
Evans also showed pocket presence and had time to make those second and third reads.
“Our pockets for pass (protection) looked really good,” Forrest said. “We had a good umbrella, some good time back there. Kwon stepped up in the pocket really well; he didn’t scramble as much. So, I was very impressed with our offense and our offensive linemen.”
Evans is not the only the returning starter feeling more comfortable in his role. Junior Cole Hash, who came in as wide receiver two years ago is beginning his second season as a starting linebacker.
“I’ve come from a full-time offensive guy to a full-time defensive guy,” said Hash, who got extensive time on both sides of the ball in the scrimmage.
“I love offense, getting the ball in my hands, but I feel a lot more comfortable (on defense) than I did last year,” he said. “Last year, I was trying to learn coverages and the defense. So now, I’m adjusted to it, and I’m able to go up there and relax and not be afraid of making a mistake.”
Junior Jordan Mills is a two-year starter at cornerback and also played some running back last season. Now he’s also taking snaps at free safety, and on offense he’s switching to wide receiver.
“I feel like I’m getting more comfortable at safety,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of great DBs this year that can play anywhere, so we’re able to do a lot more things than we’ve done in the past. It’s big difference playing free safety than corner, but I feel comfortable with it.”