By Melissa McCaghren
The Slaton Tigers and Roosevelt Eagles worked on smoothing out skills and plays Friday evening (Aug. 21) during a scrimmage in Roosevelt.
This scrimmage is the only one they and other teams this year will have before the season starts. The University Interscholastic League limited it due to COVID cautions.
Slaton Head Coach Lawrence Johnson said he was thankful the team had the opportunity to scrimmage, and the results.
“Anytime you can get out of a scrimmage healthy, your grateful for that opportunity to compete,” he said. “Obviously, we made several mistakes but our coaches agree they can all be fixed with film and practice. It was good for our kids to compete against someone else in a game setting.”
Roosevelt Head Coach Matt Landers said he thought the scrimmage went well for his team. “Everyone is healthy and we got some good work in. (We) saw a lot of good things and a lot of things we need to improve on and get better at,” he said. “Slaton is a really talented team, and Coach Johnson is doing a fantastic job over there so it was really good for us to scrimmage a well rounded team like them this early.”
Johnson said there were some issues they will be working on this week before their first game of the season against the Snyder Tigers.
“(The) biggest issues were eyes seeing too much instead of our keys and giving up big plays on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Overall effort was good but our execution needs to improve as we progress into facing our week one opponent.”
Landers added one of the key things the Eagles were looking at improving on is securing the football. “We had 26 turnovers on offense last season and we are coaching very hard on holding onto the ball and proper ball security techniques,” he said. “We had some issues with that again in the scrimmage and we are going to get that fix with our athletes”.
Roosevelt has 19 returning lettermen – nine on the offense and 10 on defense. “These Seniors and Juniors have been on Varsity since they were Freshman and Sophomores and we are excited to see what they can accomplish this season,” said Landers
Johnson said he was looking forward to seeing how the kids respond to adversity when being tested.
He also feels they are up for the challenge. “We have already seen growth in those areas and have leadership in place to continue that for us,” he said.
Johnson has also ensured the team’s properly hydrated during the COVID-19 restrictions as well. “(We are) requiring masks all the time, not just when they are around us but anytime they can’t maintain social distancing,” he said. “Coach (Bo) Medley has created a water table with cut outs for individual bottles to be placed. Each kid has a numbered slot and they are the only ones that can touch that bottle.
“During practice, each kid has a gallon of water they are responsible for and are only allowed to touch their own. We disinfect equipment daily and our District germ blasts our facilities on a weekly basis,” Johnson added.
The Tiger’s first game will be in Snyder, and Johnson said those “Tigers” were just as hungry as his own Tiger streak.
“There is some familiarity between myself and Coach (Wes) Wood over there because we played against one another at previous schools,” he said. “Our game expectations are the same as our weekly expectations and that is to give great effort and control your response to adversity.
“Our offense showed some success with some big plays, so we look to build on that momentum. Our defense was tested but also showed moments of the team we are capable of becoming with high pressure movements,” Johnson added, saying it wasn’t just the team excited to play. “Our kids, coaches and community is fired up to have an opportunity to play this Friday.”
The first team the Eagles will face is River Road at home, a team that has also played Slaton in the past.
Landers said he is looking forward to the challenge to start off the season. “River Road is a very good team. They made the playoffs last year and Coach (Bryan) Welps and his staff always have their teams ready to play. They have size up front with their O-Line and D-Line,” he said. “They have a really good (quarterback and defensive back) in Lance Welps who was an All State Safety last year. It will be a really good challenge for us to see where we are as a team and we look forward to getting back on that field on Friday Night under the Lights!”
Both teams play Friday at 7 p.m.