By Moses Leos III
After a week of squaring off against fellow teammates, a relatively young Hays High football team Friday got its first chance to see another jersey as the team took on the San Antonio East Central Hornets at Shelton Stadium.
While the official timed scrimmage had the Hornets winning 7-6, the Rebels were able to give many of their players the chance to take on a playoff-caliber opponent.
“We had some young guys that had to step up and they did a good job,” Hays head coach Neal LaHue said. “We’ll watch the film and see, but I thought they handled the moment pretty darn well.”
Friday’s scrimmage, which pitted Hays against an East Central team that reached the playoffs in 2015, had several key players who didn’t participate, LaHue said. That included starting running back Cade Powell and senior quarterback Isaac Castilleja.
LaHue said the team had a “lot of kids step up,” including junior quarterback Gentry Brawith and sophomore running back Dallin Roberts on the offensive end.
LaHue said he was interested in seeing how the younger players responded on the field.
“I thought they did, for the most part, a good job,” LaHue said.
Brawith, who saw his first varsity action at quarterback, said the speed of the game was different from the junior varsity level.
Brawith said East Central’s defense was “good and fast” and that he had to keep his “head in the game.”
“He managed the game well and made good decisions in the passing game,” LaHue said on Brawith’s performance. “He had good throws and ran the options well. He had some misreads at times, and that’s going to happen. But overall I thought he did a good job.”
Helping him in the early part of the scrimmage was a Rebel run game that found initial success.
After a slow start, Hays’ offense gathered momentum, guided by an offensive line that generated leverage against a stout East Central defense.
“Our run game was working,” Brawith said. “Our (offensive line) does a good job block and we had some new good pass plays that were working as well.”
On the defensive end, Hays was challenged with stopping running back Jauwaun Hall, who rushed for 659 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015.
While Hall broke through for several key runs, the Rebel defense limited East Central’s big play capability on the ground.
“We did a good job on their running back. Later on (in the scrimmage), we let him lose a couple of times, but never really anything big,” LaHue said. “He’s a good back coming back. We knew we had a challenge containing him.”
Hays’ pass defense also was successful Friday as they kept the East Central pass game limied. Highlighting the evening was an interception by senior defensive back Hector Fuentes during the timed portion of the scrimmage.
Fuentes said he was dropping back in coverage when he noticed the quarterback was attempting to throw a deep fade route.
“I kept my eyes to the wide receiver and knew he was running the fade,” Fuentes said. “I saw the ball, had a chance and took it and I succeeded.”
With the successes were issues the Rebels will look to rectify as they head into their final tune-up in a scrimmage with Pflugerville Hendrickson on Friday.
LaHue cited execution-based issues, such as catching the football, as there were several drops on pass plays during the scrimmage.
Fuentes said wrapping up on tackles was an important focus for the defense as they progress forward.
Brawith said maintaining momentum is something the Rebels look to improve in their next scrimmage, as he said the team “started to fade” in the latter half against East Centra.
“We need to keep working hard on that,” Brawith said. “We need to keep working hard on our effort and going 110 percent on every play.”