Jags have time to correct spring game mistakes

HOOVER – Spain Park’s football team made mistakes and missed opportunities on Thursday, May 11, playing against visiting Homewood.

Fortunately for the Jaguars, their first real game is still more than three months away, leaving plenty of time to work out the kinks.

SPHS still found a way to find the end zone more often than Homewood during the spring game.

No official score was kept, but if the scoreboard had been used, it would have read 35-30 in favor of the Jags at the end of a game that featured situational possessions and a mixture of expected starters and substitutes.

After the game, Spain Park Coach Shawn Raney lamented his team’s poor tackling and dropped passes.

“We had a lot of guys out there that have never seen the field before,” Raney said. “We had a lot of three-year starters last year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I thought that showed tonight.”

The Jaguars also missed a scheduled full-contact scrimmage when it was decided to move the spring game up one day from its original date, May 12, because of anticipated inclement weather.

The Spain Park offense had been effective in spring practice, but Raney said miscues during the spring game caused players to hang their heads and negatively affect subsequent plays.

“That can’t happen,” Raney said.

But there is time for the mistakes to be corrected, and Raney said he has been encouraged by the work ethic shown.

The game started with the teams trading 10-play possessions that begin on their own 30-yard lines.

The Spain Park defense was disruptive early on, with Kishawn Dawsey intercepting a pass and Mark Muir and Scott Moates sacking the Homewood quarterback.

But the Patriots scored first, when Pate Owen used a playaction bootleg to find just enough running room to reach the front right corner of the end zone.

Spain Park matched the Homewood score with a two-yard touchdown run by Victor Davis, and then the Jags struck again, on a 65-yard pass by Braxton Barker that was deflected by a defender but found its way into the arms of Luke Blackmon.

Points were easier to come by during a session in which the teams started at their opponents’ 20-yard line.

Homewood scored two touchdowns during this session, and Spain Park had three, on 20-yard pass from Barker to Jo Jo Dennis, a four-yard run by Jalen Henderson and a two-yard run by Davis that followed a fumble recovery by SPHS defensive lineman Zac Shaw.

The second half featured more game-like play, with kickoffs and punts.

Homewood scored a touchdown in the second half during a session where “1’s” and “2’s” were on the field, and the Patriots kicked a field goal during a session where the teams were ensuring all players on the roster saw some action.

Raney said the spring game format was borrowed from Briarwood Christian School Coach Fred Yancey after the Jaguars played Briarwood for two spring games in 2014 and 2015.

“The fans hate it, but it lets us do what we need to do and make sure that all the players get to play,” Raney said.

Spain Park’s first game of the 2017 season will be at home on Aug. 25 against Gadsden City.