When the lights pop on at Tiger Field tonight, Rodney Southern wants to create some nervous energy.

After 14 spring football practices, the Belton head coach is ready to see who can handle the pressure of playing in a real game — even if it is not a real game.

“When the lights come on will be a little different,” he said. “We cannot create the nervous energy of a game, but we can at least see some kids that handle it well and see some that may not handle it real well.

“This is going to be as close to game-like as we can get it. The coaches will be off the field and other than playing a real game this will be as close as we can get.”

Belton finishes up its spring practices tonight at 7 p.m. at the high school with its annual spring game. The Tigers’ coaches split the team into two right down the middle for the scrimmage, hoping to build experience for players that may not start next season.

Starting quarterback Shane Stafford will have his center and half of his offensive line. The other half — the left side — will be on the opposing team.

“It makes you build some depth (this way),” Southern said. “It puts kids in a position that they will have to start a game, whether they are starters or not.”

The game will feature at least two 15-minute halves with a 10-minute halftime, and it could last longer if Southern does not feel the team has preformed adequately. And the rain that swept across Central Texas the last few weeks may make a longer game a reality for the Tigers.

“(Our practices) went pretty good, but in our second scrimmage ... we were not as sharp. We lost a day to rain and it was not as good as I wanted it to be, but I think we got accomplished what we needed to (this spring).”

A couple areas Southern is not concerned with is the offensive and defensive lines, where he said he feels the experience the team has along those fronts, showed during the spring practices. Meanwhile, at other positions like linebacker where depth was a concern, Southern is hoping to see someone step up tonight.

“Hopefully, someone will stick out that has not stuck out, yet,” Southern said. “I think they have shown from the start until now what we needed them too. ... I have seen improvement and that is what you want. Now, they still need two-a-days and 7-on-7, but every position we have a question is close and hopefully (tonight) we will finalize that.”

Contact Nick Talbot at ntalbot@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7569

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