BEAVERCREEK — Sidney’s first day of full-contact football practice this past Wednesday didn’t go well.
“It was awful,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “It looked like two seventh grade teams that were in their second week of practice.”
Two days later, though, the Yellow Jackets were ready to sting.
Sidney faced Toledo St. Francis and Beavercreek in a tri-scrimmage on Friday at Miami Valley Hospital Stadium in Beavercreek. It was the first scrimmage of the season for all teams, which are just a little more than a week into practice.
But after a summer full of weight training and facing teammates during camp days, it was a welcome change to see different faces on the other side of the field according to Sidney senior quarterback Ryan Dunham.
“For being our first time seeing a different team, I think we did pretty well,” Dunham said. “We’ve still got plenty of stuff to work on, but we have plenty of time before our first game.”
The scrimmage was a success according to Doenges, who was pleased with the physicality, especially after the lackluster start to full-contact practice.
“We wanted to see improvement, and I think we got better today,” Doenges said. “We’ve still got to look at film and check it, but from the naked eye I saw a lot of positives and a lot of guys getting after it. I think we got better today, and that was the goal.”
Some of the biggest positives to pick out with the naked eye didn’t involve hitting, but Sidney’s ability to avoid any contact at all.
The scrimmage started out with the squads facing off in various scenarios on the field, like on the goal line. After the first 45 minutes was spent doing that and competing in other drills with a mix of varsity and junior varsity players, the squads then took turns facing each other for several possessions starting on the 40-yard line with mostly starters.
Sidney’s first offensive possession with its full group of projected starters showed the big-play ability — and ability avoiding tackles — the team hopes to have.
The Yellow Jackets ripped through Beavercreek’s defense with several big runs. Sophomore Quamir “Philly” Brown took a reverse and ran 40 yards for a touchdown. He put on a dodging display during the run as he weaved and spun his way through defenders.
Senior Darren Taborn then scored on a 40-yard run on the next play after cutting through the defense, running across the field and outracing defenders.
Sophomore EJ Davis then ran 32 yards on the next play, and Sidney followed with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Dunham to senior receiver Lathan Jones.
“We’ve got some good players, and the goal is to continue to move forward as a team,” Doenges said. “What I like about it now is we’ve got a lot of good energy. Even towards the end when our JV guys were in, everyone was off the bench and watching.”
Sidney had used its full projected starting corps sparingly in 7-on-7’s during the summer in order to get younger players more playing time and limit physical strain on the returning varsity players.
For being the first time the starting group had seen an opponent since last season, Dunham said he was excited.
“I feel like we get a lot of energy once we get plays going and rolling,” Dunham said. “We just get people moving really well. I think it works out well. …We took a step up today.”
Sidney’s first- and second-string players had several other big offensive plays and defensive stops throughout the day against the Beavers and St. Francis. One of the biggest defensive plays came when Davis was able to spin and reach in mid-air to catch a deflected pass for an interception.
The Yellow Jackets weren’t perfect, however, as Beavercreek and St. Francis both scored on a couple of big plays.
But with three weeks still to go until the season opener, Doenges is optimistic.
“It was a good start and it was good to see a lot of different guys get in,” Doenges said. “We wanted to maximize the amount of plays each guy can get in, so we weren’t too concerned about how many plays our number one offense was going to get in or number two group — we mixed some kids up in groups so we can see a lot and get them on film and check it out later.”
It was the first of three scrimmages for Sidney, which is one more than usual. Doenges credited Beavercreek coach Nic Black for the scrimmage’s organization and complemented St. Francis, which was a late addition after it had a previously scheduled scrimmage opponent back out.
“It was great,” Doenges said. “We didn’t go any longer than six or seven minutes for each period and constantly rotated and saw a different group of people or a different look. …I think every team did a good job of blending first- and second-team guys on our varsity portion. It was a really good look.
“We were geared up at the beginning. That was fun. On one of our first stations when we were practicing inside run stuff, we were banking on doing six or so plays in five or so minutes, and we were on play six in about a minute. So we had to stop and settle down and relax a little bit with two hours to go, but it’s great to see.”
Sidney will look to keep the energy up when it travels to Edgewood for a quad scrimmage on next Saturday that also includes Milford and Clinton-Massie. The Yellow Jackets will wrap up preseason play on Aug. 22 at home against Chaminade-Julienne.
Sidney will open the season on Aug. 30 against St. Marys at Sidney Memorial Stadium.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.