Heber Springs Coach Steve Janski said he came away with mixed emotions from Tuesday's scrimmage. The offensive line and entire defense were positives, but the passing game was out of sync at times.
“There were some good things and bad things. I thought our defense did a great job against the scout team representing the opponents we are going to see in the first couple of weeks. Our defensive scheme we did a real good job of being where we are supposed to be.
“And offensively I am really proud of the offensive line. They did a great job. Jason Hammons continues to perform well, Nate Hills had a great, great scrimmage, Red (Zach McCormick) did a great job and Kody Youngblood. Dylan Platt started out really good but I think fatigue got to him a little bit. What we saw out of him [Platt], especially being a sophomore was great at first we've just got to get him in better shape.”
Playing in their second intra-squad scrimmage in a six-day span, Janski said he would like to see the passing game click a little better. “Our throwing and catching was decent but I think we got some great things on film that we can rework and get things a little tuned up for Mike [Kramer] and our wide receivers.”
Heber's spread, one-back offense is predicated on tempo this season. “Overall, it was great. It was great having those officials out there seeing our procedure, seeing how fast we can go. We were averaging snapping the ball every 17 seconds and seven seconds after they put it in play. We were not as fast as I hope we will be but that is still pretty quick,” added Janski.
The Panthers have a ton of depth at wide receiver with Hunter Chandler, Dillion Moore, Dylan Bly, Cooper Lawrence, Conner Lindsey, Chandler Jones, Ian Lowe and William Brown all capable of leading the team on any given night.
“We have spent a lot of time in meetings talking about how to get these guys in a rotation. A wide receiver/tight end that has come a long way as far as his hands is Conner Lindsey. We've just got to get him a little more physical at catching the ball in traffic, but I think he is another one that can add to the wide receivers and give us a lot of different looks. We talked this morning (Wednesday) about packages where we can rotate guys in and keep everybody fresh,” added Janski.
Lindsey came down with 3 catches for 60 yards against the first team defense in last Thursday's scrimmage. Chandler led Heber with 201 yards and 2 touchdowns in last Thursday's scrimmage. Brown took the lead on Tuesday, snagging 5 receptions for 100 yards and 2 scores.
On the Panthers' opening possession, Kramer hooked up with Brown over the middle twice for 30 yards, including a touchdown in which the burly 6-2 junior receiver used tremendous concentration to cradle the ball as he was falling to the turf after a deflection. Brown also closed strong, coming down with a 21-yard reception followed by a 16-yard touchdown catch on Heber's final possession.
Page 2 of 2 - “He [Brown] missed in the spring and missed some in the summer and I think it put him behind as far as his timing. He gives great effort,” Janski emphasized. “He is a guy we really had to get caught up and he struggled at first but now he is getting the hang of it as far as his route running. But he can catch the ball and he is a big, big target. He had a great scrimmage.”
Notably, second-string defensive back Ethan Dickeson came away with an interception while covering Chandler and first-string defensive back Dylan Bly returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown.
Heber, which has qualified for the 4A state playoffs the past seven seasons, hosts Greenbrier for a scrimmage this coming Monday in preparation for its regular season opener at Pottsville on Friday, Sept. 6.