MIDLOTHIAN – Coach Gerald Perry was expecting mistakes from his young team, and they didn’t fail to disappoint him, but there were some bright spots in the Rams’ scrimmage against No. 5 Midlothian-Heritage Saturday.
“We have a lot of stuff to work on, and there were some positives for the most part,” Perry said. “We scrimmaged an excellent program. They were physical, and we were not. We didn’t tackle in open space very well.”
Technique on pass coverage hurt Mineral Wells a couple of times as defenders failed to turn their heads toward the football and were called for pass interference.
A No. 5 against a team not picked to make the playoffs isn’t a fair match up, and it makes it hard to judge how well the Rams might do when it comes to district play.
“We didn’t adjust to their slants very well, and we didn’t execute our plays,” Perry said. “But the good news is all of this is correctable. “
Even better news is the Jaguars didn’t run away from the Rams who had the speed to keep up with one of the state’s elite teams. Foot-speed is the one thing you can’t coach, and reaction times kept the scrimmage from becoming a runaway.
“We’ve got some speed,” Perry said. “We got a little gassed in those last couple of drives, and we’ve got offensive guys who played a lot that we rolled into the secondary,”
On offense, quarterbacks Braden Fryer, Jayce Holland and Ethan Oliver looked good running the zone-read portion of the Rams’ offense.
As expected Fryer, a senior, got the majority of the first-team snaps. He had several timely completions and pulled the ball down when he needed to in the read-option.
Holland is still learning the Rams’ offense and can slip into what Perry calls a “gunslinger” mentality as he tries to make things happen. Holland running right threw back across the field with an “on target” ball and into triple coverage. The throw was a poor decision, and at the same time, the athleticism of the play gave fans watching a “holy-cow moment.”
Holland directed the only Mineral Wells scoring driving with completions to Ethan Marsh and handing off to a bruising JW Ethridge who capped things with a one-yard run.
Both Fryer and Holland tossed interceptions when they tried to do a little too much. Oliver, who didn’t play last year, looked comfortable under center and getting snaps means Perry isn’t bluffing when it comes to mixing up his skills players.
Anthony Hernandez is making the transition from wide receiver to running back and displayed his strength when he carried four Jaguars down the field with him.
“Anthony looked good, but we need him to focus on running down the field and not bouncing around so much,” Perry said. “We can’t be hesitant in the hole and bouncing back and forth.”
In other words, Perry wants more “Earl Campbell” and not “Barry Sanders” from Hernandez, who had several impressive moments when he ran north to south without hesitation.
Sophomore center Heladio Gonzales gave the Rams a reliable performance and overall the Mineral Wells line graded out well against a larger and more populated team.
Who will take on the starting role at fullback is still up in the air after several missed blocking assignments resulted in sacks or quarterback pressures.
“All of this goes back to practice. We don’t practice at a high-level yet, and that’s because we are a young team,” Perry said.
It’s something that concerns Perry enough that the Rams practiced in full pads Friday before their scrimmage when they usually would have been in helmets only.
“We want the team going hard, and we aren’t there yet,” Perry said. “We will tell them when to back off, but for now we want them to work harder. Right now we need to be more physical, tackle better and open up holes with our blocking. The good news is this is all correctable.”
Mineral Wells has a short week to prepare for their next opponent when they play host to Godley Thursday at 7 p.m. The junior varsity will scrimmage at 5:30 p.m.
The Wildcats snuck into the playoffs last season with a 4-6 record and got crushed by Graham 70-45 in the opening round.