Leader Blues

Thursday, July 27, 2006

SPORTS >> Summer football reveals progress

IN SHORT: Jacksonville’s passing offense has been steady during 7-on-7 meets.

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports writer

Jacksonville’s football Red Devils finished up a summer’s worth of 7-on-7 football Monday night at North Little Rock High School. The Red Devil skill position players ended the summer with a 14-7 win over Sheridan, but final scores were not the goal in competing in the summer league with the Yellowjackets, Catholic High, NLRHS, Conway and many others.

Jacksonville’s main goal was to fine tune its own offense, and pass defense.

Participation was good most of the year, but not as good as head coach Mark Whatley would have liked.

“For the most part we got everybody out here,” Whatley said. “We would have like to have had a few more out there than we did. It’s summertime so we’ve had kids on vacation, working and in other states. They’re spread out all over the place at different times.”

Even back during spring practice, Whatley was pleased with how well the returning starters on offense picked up where they left off last season. The execution was good then, and has been pretty precise during summer drills.

“They’re playing pretty well,” Whatley said. “They’ve thrown and caught the ball well. Of course there’s some things we could be doing better, but I feel pretty good about this group. We just have to get our linemen taken care of. We’re not as deep there right now is you’d like to be, but we’ll get ‘em out there next month and get after it and see what we can come up with.”

In Monday’s competition, the Red Devils were solid with the deep pass. Quarterback Daniel Hubbard was on target and usually hit his receivers in stride. The receivers were also making the catches.

Terrell L’Hrisse and Marcus King were Hubbard’s most common targets. Both players were sharp. King showed improved hands from last season, while L’Hrisse continued to show why he became a favorite target over the course of last season as a sophomore.

Defensively, the Red Devils were burned deep very few times, but gave up the underneath pass regularly. Speed at the corners showed as short out patterns were routinely knocked down by Jacksonville defenders breaking on the ball.

The team has been reporting in shifts for voluntary workouts over the summer, and the entire Red Devil squad will report for two-a-days on August 31.