Full-fledged inter-squad scrimmages kicked off around the state on Friday with four local schools hosting their own jamborees.
Labette County hosted Columbus and Iola, Oswego hosted St. Paul and Maranatha Academy, Cherryvale hosted Baxter Springs, Southeast and Northeast while Erie hosted Eureka, Neodesha and Yates Center.
Parsons traveled to Fredonia along with Chanute, while Chetopa did not participate in a jamboree.
In Altamont, Labette County’s jamboree was marred early on by an injury to starting quarterback Austin Jones against Iola.
In Labette County’s second varsity set of plays against Columbus, the Grizzlies almost exclusively threw the ball with backup quarterbacks John Kohler and Kooper Peake.
“We lose the one guy we can’t lose,” Labette County head coach Sean Price said. “Austin is our leader. He’s our spark plug and we love him. We hope and pray that he can get back. But adversity just slapped us in the face. We brought two guys in and we got some tape on them. They did a good job even though they’re young. Now we have to find a quarterback.”
Despite the injury to Jones, Price still felt the scrimmage gave his coaching staff a quality preseason gauge of his squad.
“It was a great atmosphere with a lot of people,” Price said. “I thought our defense against the run was great. I was proud of our defense except for a few plays against the pass.”
In Oswego, the value of jamborees was enhanced at the 8-Man level.
“For some teams, it’s hard to have a scrimmage at all and it’s always hard to have a quality scrimmage,” Oswego head coach Matt Fowler said. “Now we got to work both the varsity and JV levels in there and learn from each other.”
All three schools in Oswego on Friday night are projected to be teams that can potentially make a run in the 8-Man postseason, giving all three units quality looks to put on film.
“It was tremendous to have the opportunity to suit up against two great football teams,” Fowler said. “We mixed things up and did some good. But the biggest takeaways are what we need to correct. That’s what stands out when you go against quality opponents.”
St. Paul head coach Keith Wiatrak added that, with his team fielding 15 players, Friday’s jamboree provided a higher quality glimpse into how his team will fare then in previous years.
“We got a lot more out of tonight than we’ve ever got out of scrimmaging ourselves,” Wiatrak said. “We found some things we need to work on. There were two great football teams out there tonight that were very different styles. So that was also good for us.”
Wiatrak scripted his plays largely in an effort to preserve the health of his starting unit.
“I scripted my plays tonight and held pretty tight to that,” Wiatrak said. “There’s things I would do differently against those teams, but I wanted to stay close to the script because I wanted to see certain plays on film.”
Cherryvale coach Harry Hester felt the variety provided by all three schools added value to their scrimmage.
“All three teams ran a little differently offensively and defensively,” Hester said. “Our kids adjusted on the fly very well. We came out, lined up and gave good effort. It was great to see the variety.”
As for Parsons’ trip to Fredonia, the Vikings put a new-look roster on the field for live action for the first time since its turnaround season in 2018.
“I’m encouraged that the kids we’re counting on really performed,” Parsons head coach Kurt Friess said. “We had some really good throws from Ethan Houk, our receivers went out and made plays. Defensively, I saw some good physicality on the line. We didn’t let Chanute score on us, so that was really good. I’m glad our kids were able to compete.”
Now teams have a week to prepare for next Friday night’s season openers.
“The kids saw some live action and got some tackling in,” Price said. “Now the kids understand where their weaknesses are. We’ll watch film and get to work on Monday.”