RIPLEY - Often times in intersquad scrimmages, it is hard to know if you need to be happy about the offense scoring a touchdown or be upset about the defense letting them score. Regardless of the mixed feelings, Ripley head coach Sam Hathorn was pleased from what he saw from his Tigers last Friday night.
In a offense versus defense setting, it was the Ripley offense that came out on top 36-27.
"I just like the way our kids competed," said Hathorn. "We've kind of lacked that the past two years. Going into spring it was kind of like, well let's just make it through spring. We knew we were coming out here to play each other. They really bought in to competing against each other."
In the scrimmage, scoring for the offense was the normal six points for a touchdown and if the kick was good it would add a point or they could opt for a two-point conversion. The defense's scoring went as followed: one point for a fourth down stop, two points for a three-and-out, two points for a safety, three points for a turnover and six points for a turnover that led to a touchdown.
Ripley alternated series between the first and second teams which amounted to 20 drives.
It was the defense that set the tone early, forcing two three-and-outs to start the scrimmage for a 4-0 lead. Upcoming senior linebacker Dy'Quez Edgeston was the clear leader for that group both vocally and with his play. In the offense's third drive, running back Jamal Brooks took the ball into the endzone from 37 yards out for the offense's first score. Quarterback Tristan Vandiver found Brendan Collier in the back of the endzone for the two-point conversion.
Brooks went on to display his unbelievable talent. With three touchdowns runs and two conversion rushes, Brooks totaled 22 points on his own. He followed his 37-yard touchdown run with a three-yard score and a 60-yard touchdown in their 17th drive.
"Jamal does a great job, even as young and inexperienced as we are in some spots up front, he is learning how to overcome a guy missing a block. We've put in a few different wrinkles in some plays we've run before for him. He is going to have a big fall," Hathorn claimed.
On the 10th, 11th and 12th drives the defense notched five points to take a 18-14 lead. On the offense's 13th drive, Vandiver threw a 15-yard strike to Immanuel Griffin for a touchdown. Brooks ran in for two points, giving the offense the lead for the rest of the night. In Vandiver's next drive, he continued his hot hand with a 39-yard touchdown connection to Collier. Vandiver's decision-making and leadership is something Hathorn says this team will lean on in the regular season.
"Tristan has come a long way in three weeks," Hathorn said. "He is trying to hone in, he beats me down here everyday. He tries to beat me down here from class so he can watch the film with me to see what he is doing wrong and what he could do better. That mindset is something we can carry into the fall."
Hathorn went on to mention a weight program the Tigers have been using called, "Bigger, Faster, Stronger." Hathorn said that his staff knew the importance of getting this team stronger and looked around the area to the other football programs and powerlifting teams who have had success in their lifting to find this scheme.
"Our kids have really bought in to it," Hathorn said of the weight lifting. "They've really enjoyed picking up those heavy weights. At first, they wasn't sure about it. But man, when they seen the results, they have really taken off with it."
That weight lifting program is one the Tigers will continue to use throughout the critical summer months. Also, the Tigers will travel to Oxford every Monday in June for 7-on-7 tournaments to help sharpen their skill positions. Hathorn believes this spring is a good foundation for what could happen in the fall but before they strap on the pads against Water Valley on Friday, August 23 there is still work to be done.