The 2017 Shorter Hawks have a goal to be different than the winless team from a year before, a team that failed to score a point in its final five games.
But all goals require practice, and Shorter got plenty Saturday afternoon.
With the midday sun beating down on the campus’s Ben Brady Field, the Hawks participated in an intra-squad scrimmage with the offense and defense going at it. It was one of the first “to the ground” competitions for the team in the preseason.
Head coach Aaron Kelton attempted to keep emotions in check Saturday, but that’s tough to do with only two weeks before the first game of the year.
“Being two weeks away, I try to stay calm about it, but that’s tough,” Kelton said. “I think we have a chance to have a decent ballclub this year and have plenty of success, and we are trying to build with every week of practice we have.”
Shorter was picked to finish last in the Gulf South Conference this season, the same spot it finished last year when it went 0-10. But almost immediately, some of the new players for the Hawks stepped up.
On the first series, returning quarterback Tyler Pullum found transfer wide out Kyrin Priester on the sidelines for a 60-yard touchdown pass. It was one of the few offensive scores of the afternoon, but it was certainly a difference from what Shorter had been accustomed.
The Hawks appeared to bring in a diverse array of plays, running jet sweeps and wide receiver screens early. Kelton said it was the product of the offense that he continues to try and ingrain in the program.
“We are in year two of this system, and the kids just know more this season,” Kelton said. “They’ve gone through two springs and a fall understanding the plays, so we can run everything with a bit more ease.”
The defense shined for most of the contest, with a front seven including Freddie Hart, Le’Chauz Langford, Justin Filmore and Austin Porter making plays. Porter intercepted a pass on the fifth drive of the scrimmage, setting up the first of two field goals.
The best moments for the defense came on run plays toward the sideline, with the defensive line often swarming to the ball and allowing no gain.
“You have to run to the ball and make some real effort on defense,” Kelton said. “We showed real aggression, and it’s something we’ve been preaching all throughout practice. Get there and show up.”
Shorter begins the season Sept. 2 against Mars Hill at Barron Stadium with kickoff at 1 p.m.