Spring training is a time for teams to get an early start on preparations for the fall football season. The Harmony Grove Hornets are priming for the new season, with the need to develop new starters and solidify all positions groups.
On Tuesday, the Hornets were able to evaluate their team at their best with a practice mini-scrimmage. They didn't have to go multiple drives for the coaching staff to see what needs to be addressed within the next few months. During the short scrimmage, coaches found plenty of positive attributes to work off of.
The first drive started strong for the Hornets' offense, specifically in the passing game. Quarterback Caleb Johnson, who is set to enter his senior season in the fall, was solid in reading the coverage schemes of the opposing defensive backs and getting the ball to his receivers.
In the first play of the scrimmage, Johnson found wide-open junior wide receiver Colton Fogle on a hook route where Fogle ran for extra yards after making the catch for a 20-yard play. The following play, Johnson found junior running back Damariyon Billingly on a solid out that turned into a 25-yard play thanks to his speed and toughness.
From there, the Hornets kept it on the ground with some unique runs in flex packages. Billingly and senior DaVonta Hubbard combined for three rushes for 15 yards in the first drive. Senior wide receiver Landon Garrett got a jet sweep run for 5-yards. Johnson had a designed run as well. The drive ended with a four-yard bulldozing touchdown run from Hubbard.
The Hornets kept it on the ground for five of the seven plays in the drive. The four ball-carriers found holes at the line of scrimmage for solid runs. One play had Garrett coming from the slot in motion to take a handoff from Johnson and explode for a 50-yard touchdown run.
In the third and final drive of the mini-scrimmage, the second-team offense got their chance to make some significant plays. They were going against the first-team defense with some players already having played in the first two series on the offensive side of the ball.
The offense had a hard time establishing its passing, and the front-seven of the defense suffocated the line of scrimmage on run plays. Second-string sophomore quarterback Damien Burns, a first-string linebacker, ended the scrimmage with an explosive 43-yard quarterback run up the middle.
In two drives, Johnson completed his first two passes for 45 yards, but drops and tough route running from other receivers forced three incompletions. He also rushed for 13 yards on two carries.
Hubbard rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown on four carries. Billingly accumulated 35 total yards with 25 of them coming from the passing game. Senior defensive ends Christian Barnes and Tyler McCann each accounted for a tackle for loss in the final drive of the scrimmage.
Offensively, the Hornets saw some bright spots as Fogle seems to keep improving, with senior wide receiver Harry Nix out with a foot injury. Garrett was also utilized more in the run game.
The Hornets will be looking for other receivers to step up through the remainder of the spring. They will also look to develop the offensive line more this offseason after some pass rushes forced Johnson to get out of the pocket.