This week, the East Jackson High School football team will don their game jerseys for the first time since last November. The Eagles will travel to Gainesville on Friday night for a scrimmage with Johnson High School at 7:30 p.m.
Eagle coaches hope the scrimmage will allow them to better assess how their athletes will perform in an in-game situation. They also want to see how their team has progressed during the off-season.
Head coach Gary Hughes doesn’t feel like his team has a lot of unanswered questions, but he admits that there are always situational happenings to watch out for.
“We feel like we know what we can do,” said Hughes. “But there’s always a tiny bit of ‘What about under the gun? What about under pressure? How will we perform?’”
Hughes also wants to focus on getting his backups significant playing time so they are ready for in-game action.
“There are guys that aren’t necessarily starters, but by the nature of the game, they’ll play,” he added. “They are going to play sometimes when we don’t expect it. But they are going to have to be ready.”
Johnson employs a triple-option offensive attack and a 3-4 defensive scheme. Fortunately for East Jackson, the Eagles also run a triple-option, making preparation for the scrimmage game seamless.
“It helps that we run the same offense,” said Hughes. “That makes it a lot easier to practice and we get a lot better look. The kids understand what they are supposed to be doing.”
Hughes also expects the 3-4 defenses to give his Eagle squad quality reps. East Jackson will likely face several other similar defenses throughout the regular season.
And while the Eagle players and coaches are decidedly excited about the opportunity, Hughes relishes in the sheer chance to compete with another team.
“There is a 100-percent difference (in playing against another team),” he said. “If you’re a competitor, it’s not about just trying to hit somebody different, it’s about trying to beat somebody different.”