By TONY EIERDAM
One of the big questions entering the 2013 season for the Mineral Wells Rams was where the coaching staff was going to play junior Josh Hardee.
Although Hardee led the team in tackles last year as a sophomore from his inside linebacker spot, this year coaches decoded to start him at running back as he is also the Rams best rusher.
Hardee did not disappoint Saturday when the Rams held an intrasquad scrimmage at Ram Stadium. The running back broke off runs of 20, 15, 20 and 25 yards, and also scored on a 75-yard pass from junior quarterback Caleb Acosta.
On Hardee’s touchdown catch and run, Acosta sent a sharp spiral to Hardee just inside the right hash mark. Hardee caught a 10-yard pass and raced 65 extra yards, including breaking a pair of tackles, into the end zone.
Acosta and the Rams’ offense started out slowly but ended on a good note with a couple of touchdowns.
Rams head coach Chuck Lawrence was pleased with the scrimmage, particularly the enthusiasm a the team displayed throughout the entire game-situation practice.
“I was extremely pleased with both sides of the ball,” Lawrence said. “We flew around the ball on defense and made some big plays on offense.”
Another big play offensively occurred late as Acosta hit receiver Rascellis Williams on a 35-yard bomb on the left sideline.
But the defense showed good hustle and tackling ability as linebacker Toby Almanza held down the middle and Grant Peters displayed a knack for open-field tackling. The defense also created turnovers with a couple of interceptions and two recovered fumbles.
“The best news is we did not get anybody hurt,” Lawrence said. “That is always the fear you have in a scrimmage. I like the way we ran the draw play on offense, and we hit couple of deep balls.
“Defensively, Devon Edmond stood out at defensive end, but he also did well running the ball on offense.
“But overall defensively, we flew around, tackled well and created turnovers. We still have some things to clean up, and we are still searching for personnel for our starting offensive line. We alternate several guys in there.
“We will correct our mistakes and be fine when we host Decatur (at 8 p.m. Friday at Ram Stadium) in our first scrimmage.”
Acosta, in his second year as starting signal caller, had one of his best drives on a drive where no points were scored.
Starting on the 25, the Rams’ first-team offense got out of a hole on a 20-yard blast up the middle by Hardee. On the ensuing set of downs the Rams’ first-team defense clamped down and forced the offense into a third-and-one situation.
Acosta called Hardee’s number on a perfectly-executed draw play and the running back scooted 15 yards for a first down.
Later in the same drive the Rams faced a third and five from the defense’s 11-yard line. Acosta went to Hardee again on a straight handoff and the back bullied his way up the middle for a two-yard run to set up fourth down. The defense flushed Acosta out of the pocket and his on-the-run pass fell incomplete in the end zone giving the defense a victory.
On the next series Acosta connected with Hardee for the 75-yard touchdown pass play.
The Rams reached the end zone again late in the scrimmage on a three-yard touchdown run by Kolby Parks. The play was set up by a 47-yard Acosta pass to Colby Kissinger, who dragged a defender the last 10 yards of the play.