The Sonoraville Phoenix brought two-plus weeks of Spring Practice to a close on Tuesday with their annual Spring Game, and there several positives but also multiple areas to improve in according to head coach Denver Pate.
The game was competitive between “Team Phoenix” and “Team Sonoraville” with the defense for both sides making several plays to limit the opposing offenses. When the final horn sounded at the old Red Bud Stadium, Team Phoenix came away the victors with a 17-10 win in the intrasquad scrimmage.
Pate said he was impressed by the effort of both defenses and also the playmaking ability of one of his defensive backs in particular.
“I really liked our aggressiveness on defense,” said Pate, who is going into his second season as head coach at Sonoraville. “The offense is a little behind, and we didn’t have a lot in for the Spring. But the defense was flying around and looked good getting to the ball. Kobe (McEntyre) made some great plays at safety, but that’s what we expect out of him. He went up and high-pointed some balls for a couple interceptions. We expect a lot out of him after he got so much experience last year. We expect him to make plays.”
The contest started with both offenses punting on their first possession. Team Phoenix got on the board on the third drive of the game with Tyler Capps plunging in from a couple yards away for a touchdown run. The score was set up by a 50-plus yard scamper by Capps inside the five. Evelio Rosillo converted the extra point to give Team Phoenix a 7-0 lead.
On the next possession, McEntyre showed his ball-hawking skills when he leaped up and snatched an interception out of the air to turn over Team Sonoraville, but Team Phoenix was unable to capitalize as they were stopped on fourth down.
McEntyre made it back-to-back defensive series with an interception on Team Sonoraville’s next possession. The ensuing offensive drive for Team Phoenix stretched into the second quarter and was capped off by a 37-yard field goal from Tripp Morrison to make it 10-0.
Team Phoenix extended their lead a couple drives later when Capps broke off his second long run of the night, this one for an 80-yard touchdown scamper. Rosillo converted another PAT to make it 17-0.
Team Sonoraville answered with a scoring drive of their own to cut the deficit to 17-7 just before the half as running back Case Collins was instrumental in getting his team on the board. Collins had a long run for a first down inside the five and then finished things off by barreling in from the one-yard line for the touchdown. Morrison converted the PAT.
With rain in the forecast, the second half featured a running clock and more strong defense from both sides. Team Phoenix put themselves in scoring position on the second drive of the half, but a 42-yard field goal attempt came up just short.
Team Sonoraville put together a long drive to finish the game off and was able to tack on three more points with a 30-yard field goal by Morrison. The score was set up by multiple runs for first downs by Colton Whitehead.
Pate said there are still some questions about who will step up at the quarterback position to replace graduating senior and three-year starter Patrick Moore as well as which running backs will take on the carries and production left behind by graduating senior Tristan Key.
“I think offensively, we’re still evaluating our quarterbacks,” said Pate. “We don’t have hardly any experience at that position, and I think they are all making too quick of decisions right now. Sometimes you have to be a little more patient with decision-making. At running back, I thought we had some guys that did some good things tonight. Tyler showed some burst and had some nice runs. Case had some bright spots too. I have high expectations for him this year to come through a little more. We’re still getting reps for a lot of those guys to see how everyone fits.”
Sonoraville will start their Summer workout and conditioning program within the next few weeks, and Pate said it will be extremely important for the entire team to get stronger and see which players separate themselves to earn playing time.
“We’ll start hitting it hard in late May/early June,” said Pate. “The summer is huge for us. We hit it hard last year trying to get stronger physically and just trying to compete. These guys have worked hard this Spring, and our summer program needs to be a continuation of that. We don’t want any drop-off. We expect to have the same effort and competition we had in the Spring. The summer will also be big for our QBs. We’ll work them through some heated situations and see who elevates themselves before we start practice.”
The Phoenix will open Fall practice in the last week of July prior to playing their preseason scrimmage at Gordon Central on Aug. 10. They have an idle week after that before opening the regular season on Aug. 24 at home against Model.