SPRINGFIELD – The scoreboard wasn’t on, but things were about as even as they could be when Springfield hosted Albany in 7-on-7 football drills Thursday.
Each team scored twice and each had an interception, leaving coaches for both teams pleased with the way things turned out.
“We haven’t run any 7-on-7 all summer, and to be honest, we haven’t really spent a lot of time working on the pass game, so this was an opportunity for us to get some much-needed work in, and I thought the kids looked pretty good,” first-year Albany coach Mike Janis said. “I thought the kids looked pretty good. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up, a lot of details to fix, but I thought we had some guys really standout today and were good.”
It was Springfield’s second 7-on-7 session after facing Ascension Christian three weeks ago.
“It’s good to go against other kids,” Bulldogs coach Ryan Serpas said. “We did well on some things and struggled in others, which is to be expected right now. We’re still trying to iron out things and figure out a couple of things as well.
“I was excited. Defensively, we were able to have some turnovers and takeaways, which is always a great thing. Offensively, we were pretty successful driving the ball whenever we needed to, especially in the first half, so it’s definitely things that we can build on.”
It took a while for the teams to get going, but Springfield scored the first points of the day on the first play of its second possession as Zac Wild hit John’L Fryson on a 50-yard TD strike.
“I think he was the spark,” Serpas said of Fryson. “He got that first catch and took it 50 yards for the touchdown, and that kind of set the tone for us the next few series.”
Fryson, who will transition into a bigger role this season from defensive back to running back, later picked off Albany quarterback JJ Doherty.
“They really performed well,” Serpas said of the Bulldogs’ defensive effort. “Nobody really looked lost in space. There was a couple of pick route incidents where some people got wide open, but a lot of that stuff changes once you put some pads on. For our kids, a lot of that was the first time they’ve seen it, so they didn’t quite understand how to work against it and how to do it.
“It’s a good learning experience for these kids.”
Doherty got a little payback when he batted a ball away from Fryson in the end zone to halt the ensuing Springfield drive.
That helped to set up the Bulldogs’ first score as Wild, who took the early reps at quarterback over Nunzio Martello, went 3-for-5, hitting Nilan Pinestraw on a 10-yard TD pass.
After a break in the action, Albany came out firing as Doherty hit Rhett Wolfe on a 45-yard strike, setting up Casey Thompson’s 3-yard TD catch.
“I thought we made great adjustments in that second round,” Janis said. “The biggest adjustment is us focusing on us and trying to teach the kids that whatever is going on, on the other side of the field doesn’t matter. What they’re doing doesn’t matter. Trust the coaches. We’ll put you in a position to be successful, and you line up and communicate with each other and do your job.”
Neither team managed much offense until the Hornets’ final offensive possession, when Doherty hit Wolfe for 31 yards to the Bulldog 19. Three plays later, Chase Robertson hauled in a 14-yard pass, setting up Tyler Bates’ 5-yard TD catch.
Wolfe picked off Wild to end the action after the Hornets missed a few interception opportunities earlier in the day.
“We were in position to make a lot of plays, and that’s what is most important right now is that we are in position,” Janis said. “The drills that we’ll work on intercepting the ball will come later, and we’ll develop those skills. The fact that the kids were in position to have the interceptions makes me happy.”