By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
SALADO - Week 0 is only a week away.
And with season openers right around the corner, area high school football teams use preseason scrimmages to iron out any final kinks, while also preparing their players for live action.
For first-year Salado head coach Glenn Talbott, who is still trying to decide on a starting quarterback between senior Cole Brentham and junior Koby Spears, the final scrimmage tonight against China Spring takes on even more relevance.
"We hope one kind of steps up and separates himself from the other, but they're really close, so it's going to be tough to do," Talbott said. "They both have a lot of good things they do, so it's going to be a tough decision either way."
Salado is one of three area small schools (1A-3A) competing tonight in the last of two live scrimmages before the season starts next week, while the area 4A-5A schools will participate in their lone preseason scrimmages Friday along with 3A Lampasas.
Talbott said there are still a lot of things he wants to see from his players before they host Marlin on Aug. 27.
"Being able to compete with (China Spring) would be huge, being able to execute our offense against a great team because they're going to have a good defense," Talbott said. "... I know it's a scrimmage, but just being in the game, battling with them toe-to-toe, I think that'll give us confidence going into the season."
Gatesville coach Kyle Cooper, who has most of his starters already decided, is taking a simpler approach to tonight's scrimmage against Taylor.
"You're just trying to put the finishing touches on personnel, finding those kids - the one's that can and the one's that can't," Cooper said. "Just making sure that you have everything in that you're going to carry into Week 0 is going to be clean, and we've got it repped to the point you can carry it in to be successful."
Finding some depth, especially at the 3A level, is also a big key for Gatesville in its final scrimmage.
"You know you're going to get kids hurt, so you have to develop depth and find those young kids that can step up, and kids that can make the plays," Cooper said.
Like Cooper, Florence coach Paul Smith knows who his starters are - at least most of them.
Today when the Buffaloes suit up to face Johnson City in their second scrimmage, Smith said he expects to play his backups for the majority of the controlled portions of the scrimmage, but will allow his starters to get some reps.
Among the positions he expects to evaluate are running back, offensive line and, of course, quarterback.
Doak Hensley will be the starter for the Buffaloes when they host Bruceville-Eddy next week. Tonight, though, it will be backup quarterback Ben Futrell taking the majority over the snaps.
"We just want to see improvement from everyone," Smith said. "I would like to see us run the ball and I want to find out who the backups are going to be."
But while scrimmages are usually seen as nothing more than glorified practice, coaches do put a lot of emphasis on them.
"You start incorporating a little bit more of the game atmosphere, so I think that's important just to get in the flow of the game heading into your season," Talbott said.
Nick Talbot contributed to this story.