Todd Wright hasn’t had to coach spring football in four years while in Houston, but Ellison’s new head coach left the annual Green and White Game satisfied with what he saw his team accomplish Friday night.
“They executed plays, they had nice tackles on defense, we didn’t turn the ball over on offense and kids played good within themselves,” he said.
With 16 practices, Wright spent the spring establishing his coaching staff and teaching the Eagles a new offense and defense.
“We’re all coming together with the coaches,” junior wide receiver Gregory Cooke said of the difference he’s seen since the start of spring.
Wright decided to reward his team for their work the past few weeks by holding an abbreviated game with two 12-minute halves.
Usually the spring game is held at Leo Buckley Stadium, but this year they played at Ellison.
Wright looked at the change in venue as “home-field advantage” and the stands were filled with fans despite the heat and holiday weekend ahead.
“We had a whole bunch of alumni and young people out here from the past,” he said.
As the game started, the Green team quickly got on the board as quarterback Breezion Spiller sprinted up the left side for a 60-yard touchdown.
In the moment, Spiller said he thought the opportunity was an easy one he couldn’t ignore, “I looked, saw the hole and took off.”
Said Wright: “Spiller is going to be good. If you don’t tackle him, he’s going to hurt you, and that showed up tonight.
“He’s hard to tackle, so hopefully he carries that into the fall.”
The Green offense then fumbled the snap as it attempted a two-point conversion, but Isaiah Brown recovered and ran into the end zone to put the Green ahead 8-0.
The Green took a 14-0 lead early in the second half, but the White team came back as Faleifa Mauga passed to Cooke for a 70-yard touchdown.
The White team also completed a two-point conversion to pull within 14-8.
Looking for a comeback, the White team found the end zone once more but couldn’t complete another two-point conversion and the score was tied 14-14.
The Green team intercepted the ball in the last second of the game, which left the players and coaches wanting to continue.
But with weather radar showing rain and lightning moving into the area, Wright called the game.
“Overall, things went well and everybody walked off tonight happy,” he said. “We finished up strong and we kind of started developing as a coaching staff, which was a major issue.”
With the end of spring practice, Spiller knows it’s only just the beginning.
“We’ve got to keep working hard, keep pushing forward.
“I like to put my team on my back and we’ll all work as one. So as long as we keep working, we’re going to get this.”
Wright also took note of the young offense.
“I saw the offensive line start to do some things.
“If they have a good summer, we’ll have a chance to go compete and be a pretty competitive team.”