Defense ahead of offense in Spain Park scrimmages

Spain Park High School football coach David Shores expected a learning curve for his offense this spring after losing nine starters from the 2009 Class 6A quarterfinal team.

Shores didn’t expect to have the same trouble with his defensive unit, which returned five starters.

Shores was correct about his squad, which shined on defense and struggled offensively in a 7-7 tie with Sparkman and dropped a 6-0 scrimmage to Fairfield in a three-team jamboree May 14. The Jaguars played each team two quarters.

“Defensively, we’ve got more veterans and playing experience,” Shores said. “We’re flying to the football and playing with a lot of confidence. I’m very excited about the way the defense played.”

The Spain Park defense forced thee turnovers in Sparkman territory in the opening scrimmage. Interceptions by Chris Humes and Justin Carter and a fumble recovery by Alex Payne gave the Spain Park offense great field position, but the Jaguars had trouble capitalizing on the turnovers.

Jake Hoffman missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt and Kegan Gaither missed a 25-yarder in the opening half. The Jaguars came up short on a fourth-and-1 at the 3-yard line in their other drive deep into Sparkman territory.

The Jaguars finally got on the scoreboard when Ashton Daniel capped a three-play, 50-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown run with four minutes left in the second quarter. Hoffman added the extra point.

Sparkman tied the game with a rushing touchdown off a reverse on the final play in the scrimmage.

Daniel led the Jaguars, who rushed for 79 yards, with 40 yards and a touchdown on four carries. Reid Reinagel completed 2-of-4 passes for 13 yards. Zak Michael caught both passes.

Jeniah Jackson led Spain Park with two tackles in the scrimmage against Sparkman.

Fairfield scored a touchdown in the first quarter for the only points in the final scrimmage of the night.

Spain Park quarterback Nick Mullens completed 3-of-3 passes for 47 yards. Chris Turner caught two passes for 38 yards.

Alex Roberson and Steven Silvio rushed for 8 yards each.

Shores said the Jaguars will have to grow up in a hurry with a lot of underclassmen playing key roles on both sides of the ball. Spain Park opens with three difficult opponents in Auburn, Grayson (Ga.) and Hoover in the first three weeks of the 2010 schedule.

“We can’t go out in August and make some of the same mistakes we’re making now,” Shores said.