St. Frederick punched up in competition, and West Ouachita’s defense played with emotion in a three-team spring scrimmage that took place at St. Frederick High School Friday night.
The Warriors and Chiefs mixed it up with Jonesboro-Hodge as offensive and defensive units from all three teams rotated in for 10-play sets.
The host team handed the ball to breakout running back Michael Thompson early on in the scrimmage, but then leaned more on their passing attack with transfer quarterback Micah Bell, who came over from West Monroe.
“Mike had a good year last year for us, and that’s part of being a veteran I guess,” St. Frederick Andy Robinson said. “We did let him get his feet wet and he had some great runs early, but we know what Mike is. He’s a returning All-State quarterback. We scaled him back and gave these younger guys some snaps and let Micah Bell get in some different situations. He’s learning. We had a few other guys out, but we’ll get those guys well and that will give us some more explosion when they return.”
Facing West Ouachita’s defense, Bell connected with rising sophomore receiver William Patrick on a 35-yard touchdown pass to win 10-play session against the Chiefs.
On defense, the Warriors replace what Robinson estimated to be seven All-District performers from last year’s semifinal squad. One of those new faces on defense was actually a familiar face, as Garrett Taylor played both corner and receiver.
“He’ll still play some quarterback for us too,” Robinson said. “He’s an All-District quarterback, and he’ll give us some more options too.”
As for West Ouachita, the Chiefs offense looked different under new offensive coordinator Glenn Hunt. The unit switched from the Wing-T to an I-formation look. The Chiefs are committed to running the veer out of the formation, which will be a bit of a learning curve for the unit. But West Ouachita has 19 seniors on this year’s squad with eight returning starters on offense and nine returning on defense.
“We didn’t protect the ball like we should have, and our red zone defense has to be a little bit better,” West Ouachita head coach Mike Rainwater said. “In 2-5A, you have to be able to play some man, so we’re committed to that. I was pleased defensively. I think we showed up tonight. We just have to learn how to control our emotions. I love our emotions. I told them to be nasty tonight, and they were. But we just have to learn how to control it.”
West Ouachita’s defense was celebrating quite a bit during the Chiefs’ matchup against St. Frederick. Corner R.J. Henderson flexed after undercutting and knocking away a pass intended for Patrick, defensive back Ralynn Hoffler brought the entire unit on their feet when he delivered a hard hit behind the line of scrimmage and defensive lineman Cooper Talley recorded two tackles for loss. Not to mention Michael Nolan was constantly flying to the football at linebacker and Luke Jones recorded an interception. In total, it was a good night for the Chiefs defense.
“We knew that defense was going to be our strongpoint, especially with us making that transition on offense,” Rainwater said.
The Warriors will look to make that hike back up the mountain as one of the final four standing in Division IV again, while the Chiefs embrace the underdog role in the highly competitive District 2-5A.