UNION CITY – Bradford, Mississinawa Valley and Tri-Village – all of whom are entering transition seasons – competed in a seven-on-seven passing scrimmage along with Covington on Thursday in Union City.
For all three programs Thursday’s scrimmage provided their first extensive look at their 2016 teams against real competition.
“We’ve got quite a few new guys out from last year that are a little different,” first-year Mississinawa Valley head coach Mike Griffin said. “It’s kind of hard to tell without pads and without competing against someone else and that’s why I asked Covington and Tri-Village and Bradford to come over and give us a good look.”
Griffin is taking over the Blackhawks after serving as an assistant coach for the team last year. Like Mississinawa Valley, a former assistant coach is taking over at Bradford where Dave McFeely now is in charge of the Railroaders.
At Tri-Village, Jason Schondelmeyer’s Patriots are preparing for their first season of varsity football after playing a junior varsity slate one year ago.
“I think they’re doing well,” Schondelmeyer said. “We’re farther along than we were last year at this point. The kids are starting to understand just football concepts, just terminology and just recognizing defenses, those types of things.”
Tri-Village began a seven-on-seven scrimmage against Little Miami on Wednesday, but it was cut short after just one series because of storms.
“It was great to be here today,” Schondelmeyer said of Thursday’s scrimmage at Mississinawa Valley. “We got a lot of different looks. And it’s good to finish up against Covington, who has a long tradition and they have a lot of good players over there. So it’s good to compete against them.”
Like Schondelmeyer, Griffin was excited to see how his team would compete against one of the area’s most successful programs in Covington.
“I was pleasantly surprised with the way they competed,” Griffin said of his team. “I wanted to go against (Covington) at first just to see how the kids would react. At first it was a little timid, and then I told them that’s how we want to play. They came out the rest of the seven on seven versus them and they competed hard, and then they competed the rest of the night against Bradford and Tri-Village really hard as well.”
McFeely also saw a lot of progress from his team in what will be Bradford’s only seven on seven of the season.
“We started out real flat, but then we got better as we went on,” he said. “We found some bright spots here. Dialaquan (Millhouse) made some nice catches on that drive as the JVs and then he came down and got a nice catch. Walker Branson had a nice touchdown catch. We’ve just got to settle down and play within our game. We’re trying to throw too many bombs, and I’d rather just pick it apart.”
With Thursday’s competition only being a passing scrimmage, it limited the plays that the Railroaders and others had at their disposal.
“We probably had more passing routes in than we’ll use all year,” McFeely said.
The passing scrimmage was a great opportunity for Mississinawa Valley, which has an open competition for its starting quarterback position.
“Got four guys that can get the job done,” Griffin said. “Just trying to figure out which is the best for our team. Not necessarily the best quarterback but the best person that is going to make our team because I think the other three guys can all help us somewhere else as well. They’re all pretty good.”
It’s still very early in preparations for the 2016 season, but the teams know it’s quickly approaching. And moving up to a varsity schedule this year, Schondelmeyer said his team needs to be more prepared than ever.
“It’s a totally different animal,” he said. “Now each opponent has a whole week to scout you. You have a whole week to scout them. I just think it’s different. You’re dealing with a lot more older kids as well. There’s not a bunch of young kids running out there. There could be seniors out there.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.