The gates of Wildcat Stadium opened wide on Saturday morning, ushering in the 2011 football season.
Elgin’s Freshmen, JV, and Varsity teams hosted the Rockdale Tigers for pre-season scrimmages.
The Varsity scrimmage was divided into four series. Each series consisted of 30 plays with Elgin and Rockdale each getting 15 consecutive plays of possession.
It was the Wildcat’s first contest with an opposing team under the leadership of Wade Griffin, Elgin ISD’s new Athletic Director and Head Coach.
Coach Griffin has previously talked about forging a “New Tradition” in Elgin athletics, a tradition of pride. If Saturday’s performance was an indication of results after only two weeks, the Wildcats will soon be a force to reckon with.
Lining up on the northern 30-yard line, the Wildcat defense enjoyed first contact with someone not wearing purple across from them. In fact, Chris Walker made the first tackle on an opponent this season with a solo open-fielder. Unfortunately, that tackle came on the end of Rockdale’s first play of the season, an eight-yard, first down, pass completion.
The Wildcats appeared sluggish in responding to Rockdale’s passing attack. The Tigers advanced into the red zone twice, scoring on the last play of their possession.
Rockdale continued their momentum through the first series prevailing on offense and defense.
With two plays left in Elgin’s first possession, Te’Rel Simmons connected with Geno Perez for a 55-yard TD reception. However, with no consistency demonstrated in the 13 plays prior, there seemed no reason to believe this was a turning point.
The next three series witnessed the emergence of a new Wildcat team on both sides of the ball.
Defensive adjustments wreaked havoc on Rockdale’s passing game, virtually shutting it down with constant pressure in the Tiger’s backfield.
The Wildcat offense bore only a physical resemblance to the group from the first series. This group was executing plays with a confidence that each drive would terminate in the end zone.
There is no score to determine the winner of a scrimmage, but there is definitely a result. Coach Griffin spoke with his team before they left the field Saturday, “We saw some things we did wrong and need to work on…but, more importantly, we saw a lot of things we did right.”
“Overall, I’m very impressed with the team as a whole. They’re ahead of expectations,” Griffin later acknowledged. “The first series out there we looked….slow…real hesitant. But with just a few adjustments, the later series looked good.”
“Offensively, the line had a couple of early miscommunications, but our biggest problem there is adapting to some new routes for the receivers. The line is running the same offense they worked on in the spring, but we’ve revised some of the receiver’s routes and that really affects your timing,” said Griffin.
Defensive Coordinator, Shane Herklotz, elaborated further on the early adjustments, “We started the scrimmage with our big guys up front on ‘D’ but realized quick we needed to get some speed up there to pressure their QB’s throwing game. Rotating these guys in every couple of plays kept everyone fresh and gave us great results. It was really obvious later on in the scrimmage.”
Defensive Line Coach Mark Leishner, agreed with Herklotz that rotating the players helped keep up the pressure, but added, “Did you notice the reactions after a couple of big hits?...The energy level soared. They’re (the players) really getting into this aggressive defense.”
He went on to explain that it’s nothing new for the front 7, like the offense, they worked on it in the spring.
Coach Herklotz further added, “Just like Coach Griffin said about the offense, the only major changes we’ve made to the defense this fall involve secondary coverage. Luckily, we’ve got a really sharp group and they’re picking it up real quick.”
The Wildcats will take their game on the road to Austin’s House Park next Friday, Aug. 9 to scrimmage McCallum HS. The Freshmen and JV teams are scheduled to start at 9 with the Varsity following at 10 a.m.