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Pirates’ offense shows flashes in scrimmage

by | Aug 25, 2022 | Sports

It was a strong showing for the Wylie Pirates in front of their fans for the first time this fall.

Taking on McKinney Boyd in a preseason scrimmage on Aug. 18, the Pirates worked on their game plan in front of a live opponent, finding success offensively and defensively.

Overall, the Pirates scored one touchdown and kicked two field goals during the scrimmage action, even winning the timed quarter 3-0. With several individual performances that stood out, head coach Jimmy Carter said it was a job well done by his team.

“There are two things you want to work on a scrimmage,” Carter said. “First, you want to see what you’ve been working on against your scout teams and see how it looks against somebody else. The second thing is you want to stay healthy. We were able to do both of those things and we saw young guys like Nico Lawrence and Chris Lewis and others step onto a football field and show they can play at this level.”

Wylie’s offense featured several new faces, including running backs Nico Lawrence and Layne Chapman taking over in the backfield. Replacing one of Wylie’s top players last season in Blake Fuller, who is now enrolled at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Carter said both did a good job of finding holes in the defense and exploiting them.

“They did great during the game,” Carter said. “Nico and Layne, with a splash of a couple of those younger guys, we’re going to keep them fresh and we’re going to keep them on the field going at defenses. We got more tough yards tonight than I think we did all last season, which was great to see.”

Those tough yards came courtesy of Wylie’s biggest strength on the offensive side of the ball – an offensive line returning four starters. Matthew Schell, Ralston Ulmer, Jordan Katin, Anthony Ortiz and Brandon Covington cleared out space and kept a clean pocket most of the game for the Pirates, something coach Carter said didn’t go unnoticed.

“We’ve been telling them that we’re going to lean on them since spring ball,” Carter said. “With four starters and Brandon, who was out last season with an injury, they did a great job tonight. Scheme-wise, we changed a little bit on offense, but their tenacity was phenomenal.”

The schematic changes for the Pirates compared to last season were especially prevalent in the passing game, where the team had a lot quicker passes and motion used in the offense. New starting quarterback Jagger Bale hit Sean Carter and Chris Lewis multiple times for quick gains, including on Wylie’s touchdown.

Bale connected with Lewis for a 10-yard pass, which he made a defender miss on his way for a long touchdown score. With a skill position group that had questions heading into the season, the early returns showed flashes of promise for the Pirates.

“We’re going to move Jagger outside the pocket and get the defense running after us,” Carter said. “Coach Jerod Monk has been helpful for us this offseason working with the quarterbacks and some of the offense is a sprinkle of what he ran at Baylor, and it worked well.”

Bale had a solid showing in his first stint as the Pirate quarterback. The sophomore threw one touchdown and one interception in the game, with the interception coming off a deflection, and showed good poise throughout the game.

“He did well for his first game,” Carter said. “Coming off freshman football last year, we had some early calls meant to get him in a rhythm and give him some confidence. We know he’s going to make some mistakes but he’s going to learn and work hard.”

In the end, it was a strong showing for a group that had questions answering the season and finding points on multiple possessions. One area that Wylie can continue to work on is in the red zone, where they went twice and only converted field goals, but Carter said that was a situational approach during the scrimmage.

“We had one time where we shot ourselves in the foot with a missed block, but we would’ve had a different game plan in an actual game,” Carter said. “We wanted to try some things and had set plays and it might not have been what we would do in a typical red zone setting. There were other times I would’ve gone for more points if it were a real game as well.”

Up next for the Pirates is their first game of the regular season, hosting J.J. Pearce on Friday, Aug. 26. With eight days between games, coach Carter still wants to fine-tune the team heading into the regular season.

“We just want to see things cleaned up,” Carter said. “We had a few bad penalties here and there in the live quarter and need to make sure we’re not hurting ourselves this season.”

For the full story, see our Aug. 24 issue or subscribe online.

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