End game: Wolves close out spring practices with final scrimmage
Over the past month of spring football workouts, Plano West has crafted a vision around its offseason itinerary.
Thursday's fourth and final spring scrimmage typified that outlook.
"We've been getting better with every practice and every rep," said Mike Hughes, West head coach. "We're ready to play. This has been a great spring; we got better as a team and we're ready to line up in play in this new district we're in."
Like the three that preceded it, Thursday featured the Wolves putting a cap on spring ball with an informal scrimmage that stayed true to the term.
The reps and rotations were fast and fluid, with any means of a clock or score thrown out the window. The West offense donned white uniforms and the defense sported blue, with all drives dealing the former 70 yards of Clark Stadium field to work with.
"I'm trying to build a team and trying to build that camaraderie," Hughes said. "The good teams have great team chemistry and we're trying to build that up. I don't want to divide my guys up, I've never done that and I believe it works differently for some people."
In some instances, onlookers were tasked with deciphering who was who with a litany of players sporting the same number and same uniform color.
"We just have a lot of guys out there and sometimes you have to double them up," Hughes said. "We don't have enough jerseys for everybody, but some will be varsity and some will be JV."
What was plenty visible though, was that the Wolves haven't deviated from the formula that facilitated the team's marked improvement in 2011. The same run-heavy approach that netted West a four-win upswing in district play was on hand Thursday, with junior quarterback Travis Korry and sophomore rusher Auston Anderson at the helm.
The duo's time on the field was kept brief though, with just two series devoted to the starters.
The two units broke even, with sophomore Lance Cottrell and junior Stephan Randall helping stifle the running attack early while the offense got the last laugh later in the scrimmage. Utilizing the two-back set of Anderson and freshman Sontonya Jamabo, the Wolves required just five plays -- highlighted by a 16-yard run from Jamabo and a 35-yard scamper by Anderson -- before the frosh found the end zone on a 3-yard rush; a natural showing for an offense that returns five starters from last season.
And while the defense may not boast the same experience, with just two returners back in tow, Hughes remains optimistic on their development.
"I thought the defense got better with every practice," he said. "We've got some holes to plug there, but I was really proud of the way our defense progressed this spring. I'm excited about them and we've got some depth. It looks like we'll have some groups we can roll in to keep other guys fresh, which is a luxury we didn't have last year."
Hopeful contributors to that depth down the road were also on hand for the spring festivities, with Jasper and Shepton High Schools getting to partake in the action.
"We wanted to get both Jasper and Shepton involved in this," Hughes said. "Now we're going to get all those Jasper kids; they've been split for a while, but now all those kids are coming to Plano West and we wanted them to be a part of this tonight."
The underclassmen squared off against the West junior varsity units and eventually each other, with Jasper actually recording the scrimmage's first touchdown after Neema Behbahani found Travis Taylor for a 48-yard touchdown against the Wolves.
More than anything though, Hughes was pleased West capped Thursday's scrimmage with a clean bill of health and an encouraging mindset as summer workouts take form.
"We wanted to get in as many reps as we could," Hughes said. "I just believe that a football team gets better with more reps, plus staying healthy and getting better as a team.
"There's no doubt in my mind that we did that."