DENHAM SPRINGS – Denham Springs sophomore quarterback Hayden Hand got a different perspective in the life of a first-string quarterback this week.
With returning starter Luke Lunsford out with a stress reaction in his back and spring scrimmage starter John McDaniel out of town on a mission trip, the Yellow Jackets opened the Baton Rouge Metro 7-on-7 League on Wednesday with Hand taking all of the snaps with the team’s No. 1 offense.
“It was good, and I definitely learned a lot,” said Hand, the team’s starting freshman quarterback last year. “I have to step up and help the team whenever I can and make the most of my opportunities. I feel like I didn’t do the greatest with that. I have some stuff to work on.”
Denham Springs hosted Hammond, Madison Prep and Springfield where Hand got his first taste of varsity action with mixed results. He will also quarterback the Yellow Jackets in Friday’s 7-on-7 tournament at Southeastern Louisiana.
Hand completed 12-of-23 passes for 198 yards with three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He also took seven “sacks” where plays are whistled dead after four seconds.
“I feel like I definitely learned a lot and progressed a lot in getting the offense, getting to know the receivers better,” Hand said. “We’re getting on the same page, but we still have a lot of work to do to get there.”
Springfield coach Ryan Serpas said the session provided a unique opportunity for his Class 2A team to match its skill against a pair of Class 5A teams in Denham Springs and Hammond and Class 3A power in Madison Prep.
Quarterback Bryan Babb passed for a pair of touchdowns against the second defensive unit of Denham Springs, completing 5-of-9 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown off a deflection in the end zone to Tylan Armstrong.
Babb also spotted Bradlyn McKay on a slant that went 40 yards for another score.
“I saw progress and improvement throughout the day from our kids and that’s all I want,” Serpas said. “Hopefully week in and week out (the goal is) to get better and just to show they’re understanding the concepts of what we’re trying to do.”
Denham Springs opened with Madison Prep and answered the Chargers’ first-drive score with one of its own.
Hand went 2-for-3 on the drive and spotted Terrell Roberson wide open for a 25-yard score.
The Yellow Jackets' defense, which yielded a total of 100 passing yards in three games, also responded with a pair of three-and-outs and forced an incomplete pass on third-and-15 from the 30. They limited the Chargers to 6-of-16 passing and 55 yards with cornerback Josiah Raymond registering a breakup.
“From a team perspective that’s kind of what you want to see in the summertime and that’s kids responding with positive attitudes and picking each other up,” Denham Springs coach Bill Conides said. “Those are little lessons that we can take with us throughout the course of the season.”
Denham Springs mixed its first and second teams – both on offense and defense – against Springfield with Hand hitting Preston Holwager on a slant route on first down that went 45 yards for a touchdown.
Hand helped Denham Springs match a six-play scoring drive by Hammond which ended in a 15-yard touchdown, shaking off an interception on his first attempt and pair of sacks to direct the Jackets seven plays to a score.
He completed passes to three different receivers with his first-and-goal pass to Braydon Bencaz in the middle of the end zone covering the last eight yards for a touchdown.
Holwager led the Jackets with four catches for 93 yards and a TD, while Bencaz added three receptions for 53 yards and a score.
“We moved the ball well,” Hand said of the final scoring series. “The receivers ran good routes and made some good catches.”