RAEFORD — After seeing a pleasing performances from his team at the scrimmages hosted by Richmond on Wednesday, St. Pauls football coach Ernest King didn’t see the same energy and intensity from his team on Friday at Hoke County.
The Bulldogs had their moments on both sides of the ball against an athletic Hoke team, but the squad had times where fatigue from playing three scrimmages two days prior had its effects.
“When you play three games in one day and you don’t have a lot of depth, it’s like you used everything on your gas tank on that day,” King said. “You’ve got one day to recuperate and turn around and you haven’t given your tank long enough to refill.”
There was reason to the second scrimmage in a week for the team: to instill a mentality with the team that is working through the new transition with King in his first year at the head of the program.
“I knew we were tired and we were going come out here and fight,” King said. “We’ve got to learn how to fight because everything is not going to go our way.”
From both scrimmages this week, the Bulldogs shown positive signs with the changes on both side of the ball.
On offense, St. Pauls marched down the field in its first series where it started at the 50-yard line in a game-like situation with Noah Wheeler handling the offense at quarterback, after playing wide receiver last season. Running back Chris Graham and receivers Dakota Oxendine and Caleb Inman led a rushing attack that got deep into the red zone before a Hoke County interception.
King said the offense will have a different look come next week with Wheeler being available for contact after being restricted from it in the scrimmage.
“The quarterback was dead, but there was plenty of times that Noah had it wide open and they would blow the whistle, and we understand that,” King said. “When we play next Friday night, he’s a part of that offense and there ain’t whistle blowing.”
The defense was led by the front seven in the scrimmage with three seniors along the defensive line in Tre King, Elijah White and Christian Dunn. After getting a feel for the offensive line early, the Bulldogs controlled the line of scrimmage for much of the night. The spacing of the defense led to the change for the front seven.
“The biggest thing we tried to tell our guys is it’s about spacing,” Ernest King said. “When our ends are wide enough like they’re supposed to be and everything cuts back in like it’s supposed to be, we’re cutting back into our strength. Our defensive line and linebackers, that’s our strength.”
“We can move the ball, we know we can stop teams and when we do certain things when we are not tired. We can fly around the football” King said to summarize his team at this point in the preseason. “I think once we turn around and put our game plan in for Grays Creek, we’ll be all right.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.