Redskins take down Pigeon Forge

Loudon High School’s Bailey Jolley breaks off a run Friday during a scrimmage against the Pigeon Forge High School Tigers.

After a successful outing against Meigs County High School last week, the Loudon High School Redskins earned a 19-8 win Friday over the Pigeon Forge High School Tigers in their second scrimmage of the preseason.

The biggest takeaway for LHS head football coach Jeff Harig was his team’s defensive performance.

“I thought, defensively, we really controlled the line of scrimmage, which was good for us to see,” he said. “We gave up one drive in the varsity portion, and it was when we had several backups in, which to me is bothersome because we treat our backups like starters and expect them to execute like starters. They put two or three plays together and before you knew it, they were in the end zone. Other than that, I thought, defensively, we played really well.”

The offense did not fare as well as Harig hoped, despite scoring three touchdowns on passes from sophomore quarterback Keaton Harig.

“Offensively, we were a little sloppy,” he said. “I think maybe we got a little greedy and we were trying to create some big plays instead of taking what the defense gave us. Up front, they had some schemes where they blitzed us a little bit and we had some mixups in protection. For whatever reason, our quarterbacks and receivers couldn’t get on the same page. We had a few sacks, so that’s not good.”

The Redskins turned the ball over twice — on a fumble and deflected pass turned interception.

However, Keaton Harig showed flashes of his arm talent, delivering touchdown strikes to Evan Brown, Hayden Houser and Mark Ridenour.

“I thought our offense did pretty well because we picked up blitzes better and blocked them like we did with Meigs,” Keaton said. “The front they were in, I think they had five guys on the line, so if they blitz a linebacker, it’s hard to pick up. With our running backs, if they send two, you can’t really block them.”

Now with a full year under his belt, Keaton seems more confident in reading defenses and commanding the huddle.

“Yeah, I’m seeing safeties and corners,” he said. “Safeties, if they’re in the middle of the field and there’s two of them ... it just depends on where the safeties are.”

Senior lineman Emerson Tripp saw firsthand the difficulties in trying to block Pigeon Forge’s unique defense.

“They came out running a five-man front, which is something we hadn’t really seen yet and prepared for,” Tripp said. “We had to make some adjustments there, so we struggled a little bit up front. Defensive line seemed good. We were coming off the ball, we were able to get pressure. We did give up contain a little bit, and that’s definitely a problem we need to fix, but that’s the only problem I’ve seen.”

Tripp believes the defensive line is one of the stronger units on the team.

“Right now, I feel like the defensive line is (stronger) because we don’t have as many guys — we run a three-man front,” he said. “We’re able to get everything set up quicker and we really know what we’re doing. We have several forms of our defensive line that work really well too. We’re going to be able to rotate, which is awesome.

“Right now, our offensive line, we’re just working every day,” he added. “It’s the same stuff with our steps, our hands and everything, just making sure we can get the push that we need in order to score.”

Coach Harig has emphasized the need to find a team identity, which is starting to happen.

“I think we’re starting to really develop an identity,” he said. “One thing that hurt us is we didn’t have Sjohn Ross Lyle in this scrimmage. He’s been out with a knee injury, so Semy Turner had to step up and get the start on that. I think Evan Brown is a guy that’s playing on our second team right now, but made a nice catch and is a guy that’s coming on. Still not been able to get Noah Burnette loose, offensively, so I think there’s a lot of work to be done. A lot of it’s matchups that you prepare for.”

The Redskins took on the Seymour High School Eagles in a final scrimmage on Tuesday after presstime.

LHS will cap the preseason at 7 p.m. Friday with a matchup against Tellico Plains High School in the first quarter of the Sweetwater Valley Collision High School Jamboree at Sweetwater High School.

“As far as the jamboree goes, us coaches hate it, but I think it’s good for the kids to put their game uniform on, get on the bus and be game-like,” Harig said. “So what I want to see is who we have out there. I want them to execute, I want them in the right spot. The more we play guys, the more, maybe, somebody’s not going to be able, ability-wise, capable of making plays because that might get outmatched against someone’s varsity guy, but at least they’ll be in the right spot, and that’s what I’m looking for as a coach.”