KEYS - After an intrasquad scrimmage last Saturday that head coach Bud Simmons "wasn't real happy with", the beginning of the Colcord Hornets' scrimmage against the Keys Cougars Thursday night didn't go much better.
The Cougars used their no-huddle, pass-heavy offense to blitz the Hornets for a pair of touchdowns on their first 10-play possession of the game, getting nine plays of at least 10 yards or more.
But the Hornets fought back, controlling the line of scrimmage at times in an up-and-down effort against the 3A Cougars.
"I felt we showed some toughness and resiliency tonight", Simmons said afterward. "Some young teams might have folded it up after [Keys] went rip, rip, rip down the field and scored on us. I felt like our guys responded well and did some good things to make a game out of it."
With playmakers such as Canaan Sherrell and Chase Staneart having graduated, this year's Hornets are committed to running the ball between the tackles. That commitment paid off early when Darwin Davis broke loose on Colcord's second offensive play of the night for a 64-yard touchdown.
"That [touchdown] got our confidence going," Simmons said. "Once we adjusted to the speed of the game we competed a little bit better. For a first scrimmage after eight practices it's not bad."
Simmons also said the hour-long bus ride in 100 degree heat may have had something to do with his team's slow start.
"We got off the bus a little lethargic," Simmons said. "It was hot driving up here and it affected us a little bit, I think. I'm not using that as an excuse - we had to adjust to Keys more than anything. Coach Willis and his staff do a good job. They always throw the ball well. Keys is pretty advanced for this time of year."
The Cougars, one of the favorites for the District 3A-7 title, were impressive, mixing runs and passes effectively to move the ball against the Hornet defense. Colcord responded with the inside running of Davis and Dustin DeMoss.
"That's something we're wanting to do this year is run between the tackles a little bit more," Simmons said. "We did that some tonight, but not as well as we would've liked."
While happy with his team's effort in their first action of 2011, Simmons knows his team still has a ways to go to match last year's run to the state semifinals.
"We played hard. I don't think we played well, but we played hard."