Work-in-progress Slicers compete in scrimmage at Plymouth
PLYMOUTH — Even though the season opener is only a week away, La Porte’s football team isn’t fully set.
The coaching staff still has to determine who’s going to start at certain spots and who’s going to back up at some positions.
In the end, the Slicers got outscored by speedy Plymouth in touchdowns, 4-2, in Friday night’s road scrimmage.
“We rotated in a lot of people,” La Porte coach Dave Sharpe said. “We’re trying to still figure out who’s battling for a few spots. Just work on our base offense, our base defense, and see what we can do. Try to see if we can find a few bright spots. They’ll be a ton of teachable moments on film (Saturday), and the kids know that.”
Each team got five offensive series, receiving the ball on various pre-determined spots on the field.
For the most part, the Slicers’ offense moved the ball effectively.
Their starting offense had three series of 15 plays, 10 plays, and 12 plays. They scored one touchdown on a 65-yard drive, and twice had it inside the 5-yard line, before fumbling once, and running out of plays in another 12-play series.
La Porte began the night by marching right down the field and scoring a touchdown. It took 12 plays to go 65 yards and was capped by freshman running back Collin Bergquist’s 2-yard TD run.
“We got in a nice little rhythm,” Sharpe said. “Not a whole lot of big plays, but we were steady doing what we do, manufacture long drives. That’s the identity we’ve chosen, and that’s the identity we’re going to live and die by once again this year.”
Senior Caleb Kirkham and sophomore Robbie Kiner split time at quarterback for the Slicers in the opening series and the first three series overall. Kirkham had a nice 22-yard run on his team’s second series.
“Caleb Kirkham’s our guy,” Sharpe said. “And we’re very excited about Robby Kiner. He came in. He’s going to be very good, but we want to give him as much big-time experience right away, just to be really quality at that back-up position. And Jack McGuire is not far behind. He’s had an amazing summer. He’s improved as much as anybody on the team, so we feel good about our quarterback depth right now.”
La Porte’s third-string QB was the sophomore McGuire, who played on the team’s fourth and fifth series.
The Slicers’ defense meanwhile, allowed some big plays in the scrimmage, and gave up two touchdowns on the first series of 15 plays. But it settled down and surrendered just a pair of touchdowns in the final four series.
After it took the Rockies only four plays to drive 65 yards and score on a 17-yard touchdown pass, La Porte junior defensive back Isaac ‘Sunshine’ Alexander picked off a pass on Plymouth’s opening series. Later in their second series, Alexander deflected a pass intended for a nearby receiver.
“He started last year, so we’re expecting big things from him as a free safety this year,” Sharpe said. “And we’ll still hand him the ball off on offense when he has gas in the tank. He’s got to be one of the best players in the entire conference, and he’s taking his role pretty seriously thus far.”
Senior defensive lineman James Freel also recovered a fumble on the Rockies’ opening play of their third series. Later in the same series, the Slicers pounced on another fumble.
Offensively, sophomore running back Nick Halaschak reached pay dirt on a 26-yard run up the middle on La Porte’s fifth and last series.
When the scrimmage was over, Sharpe was satisfied that his squad gained invaluable preparation.
“It was great,” Sharpe said. “It’s a different type of emotion. You can’t really simulate that in practice, when you know it’s for real. So it’s good we got that experience.
“The most important thing that happened was nobody got hurt tonight. And we got everybody a lot of experience against a quality opponent on a Friday night.”
The Slicers kick off the season by traveling to New Prairie next Friday night at 7 p.m. CDT.