By Angel Verdejo and Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
Copperas Cove coach Jack Welch said going into Friday's scrimmage in Abilene that he wanted to see how his Bulldawgs matched up with the defending Division II-5A champions.
He got his answer - a good one - after Cove stayed with one of the nation's top football teams.
"I thought we looked good - surprisingly well," Welch said.
Welch noted the defense matched up with Abilene's backfield of running back Herschel Sims (committed to Oklahoma State) and quarterback Ronnell Sims (the title game's offensive MVP).
There was some concern with the unit's tackling.
"We have to get better tackling," Welch said. "We fast-whistled the quarterbacks so it's really hard to tell what would have happened, but he did hit, spin and get away a couple times. But that part is hard to tell.
"I thought, though, that we ran to the ball well, we hit them well and were pretty-evenly matched."
4-way QB battle for Knights
Second-year Harker Heights coach Mike Mullins was impressed with what he saw following Friday's scrimmage against Leander Rouse.
"It was just a two-hour practice against
another team that gave us a good look, and I think we gave them a good look," Mullins said.
The lone question remains at quarterback, where Heights has sophomore Rasheed Dashiell and juniors C.J. Rodriguez, Greg Haynes and Nick Novalis alternating reps during practices.
"All four quarterbacks got a lot of reps," Mullins said. "... They're all four interchangeable right now, which, at this point, is a good problem to have."
While there were still several issues to work through, Mullins said the team will be ready for Saturday's opener against Georgetown in the finale of the Texas Football Classic in San Antonio.
Eagles light up scoreboard
Ellison put to rest any questions at all about the Eagles' ability to score points in the first 15 plays of Friday's scrimmage against Austin Akins.
Scoring three times in the scripted portion and seven times overall, the Eagles displayed big-play potential on the ground and through the air.
"We ran the ball pretty good, and we probably threw better than we have in a long time here," Ellison coach Buddy McBryde said.
There was also improved play from the quarterback position, where senior Terron Burch started the final four games last season. McBryde said Burch, who threw at least one touchdown pass, made good decisions.
Ellison's biggest issues entering Friday's showdown with Killeen High are the offensive line and secondary, McBryde said.
"We need to improve a lot on some of our blocks and assignments, and our defense needs to improve some on the perimeter with pass coverage," he said.
Hornets defense handles changes
With a lot of personnel changes to Gatesville's defense, the unit performed well for the second week in a row, said Hornet coach Kyle Cooper.
"Our defense really played physical, hard-nosed football," Cooper said of Friday's scrimmage at Taylor. "I thought they did a good job shutting down the run. Taylor is going to that slot-T-type stuff, so running is a big part of what they did."
Gatesville returns five starters, but players are adjusting to new positions to enhance the unit's speed.
Defensive backs have shifted to linebacker, while linebackers have move down to the defensive line.
"Those guys have responded well," Cooper said. "I feel like we have put a lot more team speed on the field and a better product out there."
Cooper said linebackers Christian Santulan and Colton Taylor have taken a leading position on the defense. Taylor returns on the outside, while Santulan moves inside
Buffs working out depth
The Florence reserves got their chance to prove their playability in the Buffaloes' final scrimmage last Thursday against Johnson City.
Freshman running back Troy Afano stood out to Florence head coach Paul Smith as did others, he said.
Senior Michael Ramirez will be the starting running back, but that, Smith knew. He knew who his starters were, but the backups, specifically the No. 2 guys, were still undecided as he now prepares the team for its opener Friday against Bruceville-Eddy.
"It was very important," Smith said of deciding the backups. "Now you know who to put in. You've got to be able to have kids jump in and give (the starters) a break."
Johnson City scored once in the controlled segment and Florence scored three times during the live half.
"It went very well," Smith said. "Our kids played hard ... It was a good scrimmage where we got a lot of kids playing time."
Badgers' run defense shines
Lampasas head coach Joey McQueen had good reviews for his defense after the Badgers were able to control the run-based Waco Connally offense during Friday's scrimmage.
They weren't perfect however, controlling the Cadets' run game but allowing three long touchdown passes.
"We were still wondering how good our defense could be," McQueen said. "They couldn't score on us other than that. They caught us back there a few times."
Lampasas and Connally tied 2-2 during the controlled segment, while the Badgers won the live portion 14-13. Junior Brandon Scott had touchdowns both running and throwing.
Connally's running offense gave Lampasas a different look from the week before, when it faced Smithville, a spread team.
Kevin Posival contributed to this report.