We’re one week away from high school football that counts, but Friday night we got a small glimpse of what is to come for a handful of teams. A very small glimpse, but a glimpse.
Over at Grain Valley, the Eagles welcomed Smithville, Richmond and Chillicothe for a Jamboree to give each team a chance to compete against someone other than themselves.
Once the dust settled, Chillicothe head coach Phil Willard put it best.
“Like always, we saw a lot of good things and did a lot of good hitting,” he said. “We did well on the execution part, but there’s still a lot to correct.”
Added Smithville head coach Jason Ambroson, “We needed that. We just have to be smarter football players. Our energy and effort were good. We just have to learn the mental aspect to be able to take our game to a different level.”
A common thread throughout the Jamboree was giving plenty of players reps.
For both Grain Valley and Richmond, one of the biggest holes to fill will be on the offensive line. The Eagles lost three starters from that unit from last year’s 8-4 team, while the Spartans are going through the unenviable task of replacing all five starters from a team that went 11-1 in 2016.
“We lost all of our offensive linemen, so this was eye-opening for our new guys,” Richmond head coach Rob Bowers said.
The new line took its lumps at times Friday night, as first-year starting quarterback and senior D’tanyon Maxwell was forced to scramble from the pocket and away from pressure.
“This was his first varsity competition, too. He’ll get better,” Bowers said of Maxwell. “He didn’t have a lot of time. He spent a lot of time looking at the pass rush and not downfield. He needed this.”
Same goes for the Grain Valley offensive line, as it tries to find its footing.
“We rotated up front a lot and evaluated our lineman. It was good to get them live reps,” Allie said. “It’s baby steps. We have a lot of young guys. We call them the incubator kids. It’s a trial by fire, so it’s still fluid, even with the returners.”
It’s not a surprise to see a lot of substitutions at a Jamboree. It’s almost like a line change in hockey. After all, this is the first live action for these teams since practice has begun against someone other than their own teammates.
It’s someone running different plays in a different uniform, so it only makes sense to get as many bodies into the action as possible.
“We shuffled a lot of kids in and out,” Ambroson said. “We got as many involved as we can. Playing that many guys will make us better in the long run. A lot of the things I saw I thought we did better than at last year’s Jamboree, but also our expectations are higher.”
At this point in the season, just a few weeks in, it’s no surprise to see defenses be ahead of the offense, and it didn’t appear that Friday night was any different.
Only a few touchdowns were scored, as the defenses made it tough to move the ball and delivered some big hits.
Allie was impressed with his defense, making a point to mention they were “very physical” on a couple different occasions. Chillicothe may have been the most impressive, as their guys up front made several plays.
“We have a really good front five,” Willard said. “We have size for a change, which really helps.”
In the end, the Jamboree may not mean a whole lot, but just getting back on the field might be the biggest thing. Week one officially starts Monday.
“Monday, we’ll try and correct everything,” Willard said with a smile.
Here are some highlights from the Grain Valley Jamboree