It’s hard to figure out much in an hour-long scrimmage format, but Dawson Mills proved Friday night the Nixa Eagles won’t be one dimensional.
The senior quarterback was impressive, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and completing a particularly impressive 4th-and-12 pass for a first down in the jamboree at Glendale’s Price Cutter Field at Lowe Stadium.
Marshfield and Waynesville joined Nixa and Glendale in the scrimmage.
“I thought it was good and I thought we put in things we did in practice this week and executed them,” Mills said. “I thought I could have thrown the ball better and we could have been better executing our blocking schemes. But overall I thought it was a good night and we accomplished what we needed to.”
Nixa coach Rich Rehagen hopes to see more of that from Mills.
“He throws the ball well,” Rehagen said. “That is his strength. He got some experience late last year, starting five games and he looks like an experienced quarterback.”
The Eagles participated without a handful of starters, including senior running back and Mississippi State commit Alec Murphy.
But Murphy’s absence was negated by a strong showing from Nixa’s young backfield trio of juniors Jacob Bair and Schulyer Crawford and sophomore Nicos Oropeza. Crawford busted loose for a 40-yard touchdown run against Marshfield.
“I thought all of our running backs ran the ball hard,” said Rehagen, who also noted good defensive nights by Jourden Riley and Cody Means. “There were some times it did look good and some times it looked a little sloppy, but that’s the way it is in a jamboree.”
Nixa’s youngsters weren’t the only newcomers making an impact Friday. Marshfield’s extremely young team competed well playing up a level against three Class 5 schools.
After sophomore running back Danny Novakovich left with a dislocated finger, freshman Tyler Park replaced him and scored on a 20-yard touchdown run against Glendale.
“It is a trial by fire right now in Marshfield,” Blue Jays coach Nick Codutti said. “We’ve only got one or two kids that will have had significant varsity experience on the offensive side for us.
“But Danny Novakovich is a great football player and we feel like Park has a chance to be pretty special. We’re going to run the ball quite a bit and those two guys are going have to carry the load for us.”
First-year Glendale coach Mike Mauk also got his first taste of a jamboree and it’s quite a bit a different from his coaching days in Ohio.
“We had three, three-hour scrimmages (in Ohio), so a jamboree where you scrimmage for 50-55 minutes is different for me,” Mauk said. “We’ll take time to look at the film and evaluate some of the little integral things we need to work on.
“But I saw some good things. I liked our effort and I thought our seniors played with good effort and showed some good leadership.”
There were programs, thank goodness, inside the gates at Pottenger Stadium. It made the task of keeping up with all the new Kickapoo Chiefs a lot more manageable.
Coach Joel Wells substituted liberally during his squad’s jamboree with Aurora, Branson and McDonald County, and the results were, mostly, good.
“We’re pretty young and we made a lot of youthful mistakes,” Wells said. “We hope we can improve quite a bit between now and next week. I think we’re going to be (a team) that can improve each and every week.”
The Chiefs scored one touchdown and surrendered two against McDonald County in the opening period, as senior wideout Ben Wilken circled under a 20-yard rainbow lob from sophomore quarterback Camron Emling.
Emling was the third signal caller of the day for Kickapoo, following senior Brad Jarman and sophomore Chris Lawson. Senior Tony Grant carried the ball for Kickapoo, as did at least five or six other Chiefs.
“We played a bunch of people and stayed pretty vanilla. That’s what jamborees are,” Wells said. “Sometimes you look pretty good and pretty bad. There have been years where we lit it up in the jamboree and then struggled. Hopefully we’ll get better between now and next week and be ready for Parkivew.”
New Branson coach Dan Henderson called the night a positive for his Pirates, stressing they came out of the night healthy.
“We have a lot of things we need to work on, but I’m pleased with tonight,” Henderson said. “We’ll try to get ready for next week now.”
Aurora and McDonald County, meanwhile, relished the opportunity to step on the same turf as Branson and Kickapoo. They held their own at times, too, with the Houn Dawgs getting a touchdown connection between quarterback Payton Evans and wide receiver Logan Bader, who made a nice leaping catch.
“We like the feel of getting to play bigger schools and seeing bigger-school speed,” Aurora coach Rick Scholten said. “It’s always good for our kids. They get a little chip on their shoulder and play up. We feel like it helps prepare us for conference play.”
The Ozark Tigers appear poised to roll on with a burly ground offense in 2014. Senior quarterback Micah Tinsman led an offense that consistently ripped off big running gains in a jamboree at Tiger Stadium that also included Central, Hillcrest and Rogersville.
Tinsman ran for 19 yards and a touchdown on three carries against Hillcrest. He also was intercepted once against the Hornets and once against Central, when he missed a back shoulder throw to a receiver in the end zone that Ian Holyfield hauled in.
“Both times he was getting hit in the mouth when he threw them, so it was a protection thing that we’ve got to shore up,” Ozark coach Mark Bliss said.
When Tinsman wasn’t running, Caleb Essick, Noah Tucker and Jeff Peterson rumbled for big gains.
On defense, Bliss says his team is ahead of where it was at the beginning of the 2013 season. The Tigers logged three tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and two pass knockdowns in a scrimmage with Hillcrest.
Central’s Lorenzo Williams survived his first jamboree as a rookie head coach.
“It was a crazy day today, I was kind of stressed out, but we got everything taken care of,” Williams said of the game day atmosphere at Central. “You can’t prepare for it; it’s like having a baby, you don’t know what’s going on.”
Williams left Ozark happy with the Bulldogs’ efforts and proud of their enthusiasm.
“Guys lined up, they knew their assignment, they played to the whistle every time and they played physical. That’s what we want to do, we want to be a physical team,” Williams said.
Senior Joseph Tracy and freshman Quintin Baston split time at quarterback for Central.
“Both of those guys are dying to win, dying to compete,” Williams said. “I think they both did good things, they both did bad things.”
Hillcrest coach John Beckham took a different approach to the jamboree, preferring to let any battles for playing time play out in practice. Two sophomores and a freshman split time at quarterback, and young players got their first taste of varsity action on the offensive line and in the skill positions.
“Anybody that started for us last year doesn’t play in the jamboree, so a lot of young guys got a lot of first time reps,” Beckham said.
— Justin McMillin, Jeff Kessinger and Rance Burger contributed to this report.