By Colby Gordon / American-Statesman Correspondent
Posted Sep 18, 2020 at 10:07 AM
A vicious hit by a Stony Point defensive back on a Hendrickson wide receiver caused the crowd at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex to briefly roar Thursday.
High School football returned, even if just in the form of a scrimmage, to Travis County, as the Tigers and Hawks tried to get up to speed as much as possible just days after practicing in pads for the first time.
With Hendrickson wearing numberless jerseys — “We can’t afford a whole different set of jerseys,” Hawks coach Chip Killian joked — and Stony Point wearing numbers different than it will during the season, any scouts and media members present at the contest wouldn’t be able to tell what personnel was on the field at a given time.
But after roughly two hours of the teams trading possessions and getting substantial looks at their offense and defense, both Killian and Tigers boss Craig Chessher took away positives before heading into their season openers.
“Everything we’ve gone through since April, we talked about bringing energy, effort and execution to this scrimmage,” Killian said. “We were a little sloppy on the execution, but everybody is at this time. I was really proud of our guys for how we brought the energy and the effort against a good Class 6A team like Stony Point.”
Hendrickson, which drops to Class 5A this season, looked sharp on its first offensive possession, driving 70 yards in 12 plays for the night’s only touchdown on an 8-yard pass.
The Hawks return a fair amount of varsity experience from a year ago with 10 starters back, something that should play into their favor under the current circumstances and something Killian can notice on the field.
“You see a little bit of that because they’ve been here before, they’ve been under these lights, and they lost a lot of games last year by some low numbers,” he said. “So I think they’ve got a bit of an edge to them that they want to show that’s not who Hendrickson is. I appreciate and love those guys because they’re going to keep (playing hard).”
Though they never reached the red zone again, the Hawks moved the ball on the majority of their possessions with a balanced offense.
“We stalled out a few times, but we’ll be all right,” Killian said. “It’s going to be a building process for everybody around here. Especially if you’re a Travis County, Leander or Round Rock school that didn’t get all those extra weeks that a Hutto or Georgetown got, we’re going to be a little bit behind those guys. But we have to ramp it up next week because they’re going to start keeping score.”
Hendrickson starts the season Friday against Akins, with Killian noting the Hawks will focus on the little things before the first kickoff.
“We just want to clean it up,” he said. “We’re not going to try and add too much. We’ve got our base set for our first two games before we go into districts. We just want to get better at that and go execute.”
Stony Point has a younger squad this year after graduating a large senior class and is still working out some position battles. At least three quarterbacks played Thursday, all showing a variety of potential.
“It’s about what I expected,” Chessher said. “We’re really trying to get going on offense and we’re going to look at the tape, figure out what we can do, and try to get better at that. I think we tried a lot of things and didn’t have much success, but Hendrickson is a very good team and they played well.”
The Tigers hit a few medium-range passes, but they impressed most on the defensive side of the ball, where they brought a physical presence and never gave up any big plays.
“Our defense, overall, played well,” Chessher said. “I thought we were physical for a scrimmage and flew around pretty good. I thought we had some structural issues inside that we have to get cleaned up, but I was pleased with how we played on defense.”
Stony Point gets an extra week of preparation before it opens the season Oct. 1 against Bowie, something that should help Chessher and the Tigers coaching staff with a more inexperienced team.
“I personally like having the extra time,” Chessher said. “Some people disagree, but we’re going to have eight games this year. We’re young and hopefully we’re better when we’re back on this field in two weeks.