The formal dress rehearsal for two Union County football teams takes place tonight, as Parkers Chapel hosts Smackover in a scrimmage at Victor Nipper Stadium.
The action begins at 5:30 p.m. with the junior high with the senior high expected to begin around 7 p.m.
“Each junior high and senior high will have a certain amount of plays that are scripted,” Parkers Chapel coach Elliot Jacobs said of the format. “Each team will then play two quarters of football. Junior high will do two 10-minute running clocks, senior high will do two 15-minute running clocks.”
Jacobs said his team is excited to go against a live opponent.
“We’re always excited to get on the field,” Jacobs said. “Any time you can hit somebody else, even though it’s a scrimmage, for us, we have to treat it like a real game. Our kids are excited. We’re ready to hit on somebody else. We know Smackover is going to bring their best, so it’s a judge to see where we’re at as far as what we’ve done in fall camp and if we’re ready to go in Week 0.”
Smackover coach David Osborn added that tonight’s contest will also be a measuring stick for his team.
“Going into the scrimmage, I just want to get a good idea of where we are at,” Osborn said. “I’m really looking to make sure we are doing the fundamentals right. It doesn’t matter what scheme you run if you can’t do the basics. When we break down the film, that’s going to be our focus looking at what areas need improvement. Our staffs have known or coached against each other for years so there is a lot of mutual respect there. Coach Jacobs and his staff have done a good job of developing their program and I think it’s going to be a good night for Union County football.”
Jacobs said there were a couple of things he wanted to see out of his team Friday night.
“Offensively, execute our base offense,” Jacobs said. “We’ve got a couple of base runs and passes that we’ve really been repping hard, and I want to see us make throws against a live defense. Defensively, just 11 bodies lining up right on the football.”
Osborn said he was anxious to see how his young players will fare against the Trojans.
“It’s going to be good to go against someone else for a change,” Osborn said. “Going into the scrimmage, we know there will be a lot of ups and downs being the first time out. We will play a lot of young guys on both sides so it’s exciting to see how they do when they get their chance.
“Overall, I feel pretty good about where we are scheme-wise with our install, but of course, now we have to put the plan into action.”
The Trojans lost a plethora of players to graduation, and while finding their replacements won’t be easy, Jacobs said the scrimmage will help evaluate where players can fit in.
“The way we do it in our program is we try to put different kids in,” Jacobs said. “We’re not going to have just 11 on offense and have the same 11 play defense. We try to play a lot of kids, so for us, we’ve lost nine seniors, so we’ve got nine kids that have not played at this level, so getting film on those guys against another team is going to be beneficial for us, seeing how they handle that pressure. We’ve got a bunch of sophomores getting their first Friday night action, so it’s going to be interesting to see how these kids handle it.”
Osborn is looking forward to seeing how his players react in certain situations.
“Mainly looking to see how the kids respond to different situations,” Osborn said. “I’m hoping they get put in some pressure, difficult situations. One thing we have stressed is it’s how you handle those situations that have a huge impact in games. Overall for our program, I’m really looking forward to seeing it in action. We’ve really focused this year on building this program from the ground up, so I’m ready to see those young guys at 5:30, then see what the senior high can do after that.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a limited amount of tickets went up for sale on Thursday, but quickly sold out.
However, Jacobs said anyone who leaves will have to pay to re-enter, and also if a person leaves, someone else may buy their ticket at the gate and get in. Masks must also be worn.
Jacobs added that areas have been marked off where fans can sit.
“We have marked off every other row of the bleachers, so every other row, people won’t be able to sit,” Jacobs said. “People are supposed to maintain their own distance from other non-family members. We also have areas on our track marked off where people can stand.”