Parkway head football coach David Feaster knows what to expect from quarterback Brandon Harris, wide receiver Brodrick Jefferson and the rest of the Panthers’ loaded group of skill-position players.
Feaster had several other questions, queries that would have remained unanswered in the last two years of spring practices. However, with the return of high school football spring games, Feaster was able to see those questions answered under the lights.
“It’s a great development,” Feaster said. “The fact we got the spring game back, one, it made spring training more fun, because we had something to look forward to at the end of it, and, two, now that it’s all said and done, we have great film to look at, and I think we have a much better idea of our evaluations.”
Feaster’s Panthers were not the only group to learn something about itself during the spring game.
Across the area, prep football teams relished having a chance to restart the tradition that took a sabbatical when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association passed a season-shortening measure three summers ago.
Feaster lamented the lack of a spring game last season when the Panthers were breaking in a heavy crop of skill players.
Having a spring game allowed Feaster to unearth something more important than a big-play threat.
“First thing that comes to mind is our offensive line,” Feaster said. “We said going in, we have four of our five starters back. Well, we played the scrimmage (Thursday) and none of them were there. We had two hurt, one suspended and one we moved to defense. It was an all-new offensive line and they looked pretty good.”
While Parkway’s shuffled offensive line was finding its way, so were a handful of new coaches.
Evangel’s Byron Dawson slid into the head coaching position last month, expanding on his prior position of defensive coordinator.
Though the Eagles did not play a spring game — opting to hold an intrasquad scrimmage Friday — Dawson realized one big difference in his new role.
“You look at the big picture,” Dawson said. “Even when the offense makes a big play on you, you get excited, because it’s a team game. You get happy for both sides having success. Your piece of the puzzle is the whole team, not just the one side of the ball you’re focusing on.”
Even without the benefit of a spring game, Dawson saw promise from several players this spring.
“I was really shocked at how well our linebacker Jerome Anderson played,” Dawson said. “Kortrell Williams did a great job at strong safety, just coming down and being a hammer. He probably had the best spring on defense. I was surprised with how well our young quarterback (Connor Curry) moved around, how he delivered the ball and stayed poised being so young. I was pleasantly pleased with the play of those three players.”
Benton’s first-year coach Reynolds Moore saw the positives and negatives of playing a true spring game, which the Tigers did Friday night against Byrd.
“We had nine days to install a new scheme and concept,” Moore said. “Getting here just two weeks ago, it would have been a good time to have a Purple-Gold Game, just for the sake of confidence.”
Moore said he saw flashes from quarterback Jordan Shaffer, who hung in against a physical Byrd defense, and wide receiver Kordavion Stewart, who is making the transition from basketball.
“Playing against someone as physical and athletic as Byrd is tells our guys that the positive plays we had, we can do it against anyone we play,” Moore said.
While Moore, led his team through its spring game Friday, another coach will make his debut on the sideline today at 1 p.m. at Lee Hedges Stadium.
That’s when Woodlawn’s Jerwin Wilson will have his first shot at coaching the Knights in a game situation.
Wilson took control of the program after Robert Arvie left to take the head coaching position at Richwood. Despite his first-year stature, Wilson knows what he wants to see when the Knights take on Many and Mansfield.
“Hopefully, there’s some areas that we need to work on,” Wilson said. “You don’t want it to come out great. Then it’s hard for the kids to stay motivated. We had one of the best springs we’ve had in the four years I’ve been here, but nobody cares. We’ve got to see it. (Today) is where a lot of the answers will be, and that’s where we’re looking for them.”