Prior to Friday’s scrimmage against Meigs County High School, Loudon High School head football coach Jeff Harig hoped his team would be ready for what he knew was “going to be a physical test.”
“The positive is we were 11 of 16 throwing the football for 208 yards,” Harig said. “I guess we had two touchdowns passing. We had a third touchdown pass nullified with a rush. I was pleased with the way we caught the ball, and I was pleased with the way we threw it. We’ve got a little work to do on our pass protections.”
Sophomore quarterback Keaton Harig made several athletic plays in and out of the pocket to help edge the Tigers.
“They’re a pretty good team,” Keaton said. “They’re always going deep in the playoffs and they’ve got some players, so I thought we did good. I completed most of my passes, which I was looking forward to doing. That was some of our goals, to score a lot. We averaged like 20 something points last year in a game, and we’re looking to score a lot more than that.”
Several receivers made big plays when needed, including seniors Sjohn Ross Lyle and Kyle Smallen, as well as talented freshman Semy Turner.
“We have a young buck in Semy Turner that created some big plays,” Harig said. “Kyle Smallen created some big plays in the passing game, so those will be some guys we go to. Sjohn Ross Lyle made several clutch catches in traffic, which leads you to call him a possession receiver, so I think we created some mismatches or some strengths of players. We’ve got that possession guy, we’ve got some home-run hitters.”
“Offensively, I think we did great,” Smallen added. “We showed what we could do, especially in the first half with the first group. We showed we have some depth.”
The Redskins’ defense was also a bright spot, especially against the Tigers’ physical run attack.
“Our defense did its job,” Harig said. “We were able to get them in the down-and-distance portion, able to get them in some down-and-distance situations that favored the defense and really limited them to either passing or just running the football on third and 13. ... We’ve got to get better at understanding run fits and understanding how all 11 guys work together in our defense.”
Harig believes playing a physical team like Meigs County early in the preseason will help players be ready for more physical matchups in the regular season against the likes of Greenback and Lenoir City.
“They exposed us some, physically, so for us to still come out successful and be physically tested ... I think it was a very good test, especially going against a very physical and big Greenback team week one,” he said. “I think it gets us ready for that. I think our kids understand where they lack and what their weaknesses are. It gave us a lot of things, as coaches, to work on and learn from.”
Loudon will face its second opponent of the preseason at 6 p.m. Friday against Pigeon Forge High School.
“Now, it’s trying to get game ready,” Harig said. “We’re assigning roles to players. We’ve gone from a 50-50 split with our ones and twos, where each one gets 50 percent of the reps, so now we’ve got to start moving into that 70-30 range. It’s time to really start identifying the key backups and the first team guys.”