Ouachita works through game paces in scrimmage

Ouachita works through game paces in scrimmage


Ouachita works through game paces in scrimmage


Try as they may, there’s really no way for a coach to simulate the exact conditions of a game during practice.

Ouachita coach Jeff Fitzgerald did the next best thing during an inter-squad scrimmage on Friday afternoon at the Lion’s Den.

Fitzgerald divided the Lions up into two teams, putting the first team offense and defense together with their second-team counterparts for four quarters and an overtime period — including keeping score. Ouachita even went to the locker room and came back out between the second and third quarter to replicate halftime.

“We’re doing everything we can out here to gain an edge,” Fitzgerald said. “I wanted this to be a competition and as close to an actual Friday night as we could make it.”

The fourth quarter expired with the scored deadlocked at 12, which led to Fitzgerald calling for overtime. Running back Cam Davis broke the tie on a nine-yard touchdown run through the teeth of the Ouachita starting defense. The Lions’ second-team defenders closed the scrimmage by getting a stop inside the red zone.

Fitzgerald was pleased with how the scrimmage progressed following a slow start.

“Our guys weren’t sure what to expect because we changed our pregame format a little bit. That threw them off some and it carried through the first quarter,” Fitzgerald said. “As time went on a few guys got popped in the mouth and the next thing you know we’ve got some emotion and it ended about like a real game. They started taking pride in it and competed really well.”

Ouachita quarterback Charles Wright led three scoring drives with the first-team offense, scoring one of those touchdowns on the ground. Wright operated both from the shotgun and ran the veer out of the offense’s new I-formation look.

“It’s taken a lot off my shoulders this year because our offense is more balanced,” said Wright, who got the start in the majority of Ouachita’s games last year. “Last year, teams knew when we were going to throw but now we’re two dimensional and that’s something defenses have to prepare for.”

Ouachita also used the scrimmage to experiment with some new players at different positions, including defensive end Garrett Heath, who got took reps at fullback. Heath won’t be the only player possibly playing both ways as offensive/defensive lineman Drew Fenske and wide receiver/defensive back Desmond Jones are also making the same transition.

“It’s taken a lot of conditioning to go both ways, but I’m working hard to help the offense and still get after it on defense,” Heath said. “We lost a few starters but we’ve got guys that are stepping up and fitting in so I think we’re capable of having as good a defense as we had last year or even better.”

Ouachita is using next week’s practice schedule to simulate an in-season preparation week and the Lions will cap it off on Friday with a 6 p.m. scrimmage against Airline at home.

“We’re going to approach that like a game week. Our Thursday practice will be much lighter but we’ll still get our work in,” Fitzgerald said.

“Friday isn’t as much about winning and losing, it’s about doing the best we can and making sure we continue to get better.”

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