WACO — Tye Hill understands Ellison will not simply walk over every opponent this season, but he believes they will run past a few.
Playing in their final scrimmage before kicking off the season Thursday, the Eagles shared the field with Marshall at Waco ISD Stadium on Friday afternoon, looking to fine tune prior to opening at home against A&M Consolidated.
Like most teams, Ellison has areas of concerns, but speed is not one of them, and the Eagles’ showed off their talent on several occasions against the Mavericks.
Ellison recorded eight plays of 20 yards or more, including three measuring more than 35 yards, during the four series of plays and two live quarters against Marshall, with Hill and quarterback Breezion Spiller accounting for consecutive 70-yard touchdown runs.
Following the scrimmage, Hill admitted the pair of outbursts is a merely a glimpse of the future.
“At every position,” the senior running back said, “we are just so explosive. Big plays like those 70-yard runs can happen at any moment.
“Breezion is probably the fastest person in our district, and he can run anywhere he wants. Then, our backfield is loaded with explosive guys, so it doesn’t matter who is in the game, because we are going to get the same results.”
On the first snap of the Eagles’ third series of plays, Hill weaved across the field for a runaway touchdown from the 30-yard line.
Moments later, after a failed two-point conversion attempt, Ellison’s offense continued the series, and Spiller showed off the ability responsible for multiple gold medals on the track as a sophomore last year, delivering another 70-yard touchdown run for Ellison.
The pair of elusive playmakers will be instrumental to the Eagles’ success this season, according to Ellison head coach Todd Wright.
“They can break free on any play,” he said, “and defenses can’t load up on one, because the other one will take off. Then, if defenses move up on us, our outside receivers are pretty good.
“Once we get our continuity together and start running the offense better and smoother, we have a chance to be good.”
The Eagles were far from flawless against Marshall, though.
Despite getting 250 yards of offense during the controlled series of plays, Ellison could not deliver when the scrimmage shifted to consist of a pair of live quarters.
The Eagles punted twice, threw a pair of interceptions and missed a 28-yard field goal during the span as the Mavericks cruised to score 28 unanswered points. Ellison also ran the ball for zero or negative yardage six times and only had two plays of at least 6 yards — a 39-yard run by Spiller and a 28-yard run from Hill.
With District 12-6A play beginning in less than three weeks, however, Wright is not opposed to dealing with adversity now.
“We want to be battle-tested,” he said. “We’re playing two quality teams (Consolidated and Austin Vandegrift) to start the season.
“So, when district arrives, we won’t be caught off guard by playing a fast team, because we’ve already played a fast team. We will have already played smart teams and really well-coached teams. If we get exposed, at least it will be in the first two games, and we can fix it.”
Hill finished the scrimmage with 148 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, while Spiller posted 123 yards on four carries and completed 5 of 12 passes for 76 yards. He also threw an interception during the first live quarter.
Although speed might be Ellison’s biggest advantage this season, Hill is quick to point out patience could benefit the Eagles.
“We need to let the plays develop,” he said, “and then hit our holes. That’s our only problem — we’re too anxious to get the ball.
“We need to slow down, let things develop, and everything will fall into place.”