SIDNEY — After weeks of being confined to the weight room or facing teammates in a few practice days for much of the summer, Sidney faced opponents on Thursday night.
The players were largely left wanting more face time with opponents — which is what coach Adam Doenges wanted to hear.
The Yellow Jackets hosted Anna, Lehman Catholic and Covington in a 7-on-7 passing scrimmage at Sidney Memorial Stadium. For Sidney, it was the fifth of 10 summer camp days the OHSAA allows teams to use for instruction before official preseason practice starts.
“Everybody else here is in their ninth or tenth camp day, so they’re a little ahead of us in that regard,” Doenges said. “Being at day five, I’m pretty pleased with where we’re at.”
As far as scoring was concerned: Sidney scored three touchdowns against Lehman while the Cavaliers were scoreless, was outscored 2-1 by Anna and outscored 3-2 by Covington.
Not that those results really mattered to the coaching staff, which was focused more on getting younger players experience against opponents.
The Yellow Jackets subbed the most freely of any of the squads in attendance. Doenges said the coaching staff wanted to get as many players time on the field as possible. Sidney went four and five players deep in all positions.
“It was a success,” Doenges said. “Nobody is hurt, and everyone is a little upset that they didn’t get more reps than they did. I deem that a success.
“… We wanted to make sure everybody got reps, and we wanted everyone was walking out with fresh legs heading into the weekend. So I’m pretty happy with it.”
Sidney has 13 returning lettermen from last season’s 5-5 campaign. That means upwards of half the players on the field at a given time this fall will be relative newcomers.
“I don’t think we’ve been quite that low on returning lettermen since I’ve been here, but I’d have to check,” Doenges, who is entering his ninth season, said. “… Looking at the grand scheme like that, we’ve got to get a lot of these sophomores and juniors who didn’t play on the varsity field last year as many reps as we can.”
The scrimmages — which are popular throughout the state in June and July — are non-contact and are played without linemen. Teams are allowed to use seven players (hence the 7-on-7 moniker) at a time, run only passing plays and use only 40 yards of the field. They’re allowed 10 plays per possession, regardless of an interception.
Sidney started with Lehman on Thursday. The Cavaliers drove to the 20-yard line on their first possession but stalled, then the Yellow Jackets drove to the 10 on their first possession and scored when backup quarterback Cedric Johnson threw a short TD pass to running back Jaden Swiger.
Lehman got one first down on its second possession, which included Sidney’s Cam Vordemark intercepting a pass. The Yellow Jackets then scored two touchdowns on their second possession on a pair of touchdown passes by third-string quarterback Donovin Johnson. The first TD was a short pass to Jhyston Malveaux while the second was a 40-yard throw to Jacob Wheeler.
Senior starting quarterback Ryan Dunham threw a 25-yard pass to sophomore starting receiver Quamir “Philly” Brown in Sidney’s first offensive play against Anna, but the starters were quickly subbed out for less-experienced players.
After the Yellow Jackets failed to score on their first possession, Anna scored on a long pass on the second play of its first possession. Sidney scored on its second possession on an about 20-yard pass from Cedric Johnson to Landon Lapoint and Anna scored on a short touchdown pass on the third play of its second drive.
Covington scored on a 40-yard pass on its first possession against Sidney. The Yellow Jackets scored on a short pass from Dunham to Brown on their first possession, which came a little while after a 30-yard pass involving the same duo. Sidney added a second TD on the possession on a 40-yard pass from Dunham to Darren Taborn. The Buccaneers added another two 40-yard TDs on their second possession.
Doenges said he was pleased with everyone’s effort and singled out returning starting receivers in Taborn, Brown and Lathan Jones for their performances on Thursday.
“From a skill perspective, those guys are going to have to be good for us offensively and defensively,” Doenges said. “I’ll have to watch the film to see who else looked good — we rotated a ton.”
Swiger, a sophomore, played the most of any player on Thursday by lining up at running back on nearly every offensive play. Doenges said he’s been pleased with what he’s seen from Swiger so far this summer and is looking forward to seeing him develop leading up to the start of the season.
“He’s coming along and is one of those sophomores we’ll be looking for to step up and play,” Doenges said.
Sidney will use a camp day for practice on Wednesday and another on Thursday by hosting West Liberty-Salem and Dayton Ponitz in a 7-on-7.
The squad will use its remaining camp days in the three days leading up to the start of practice on Aug. 1.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.