As the day went on, the Howell football team, and the weather, got hotter during Tuesday’s four-way scrimmage on its home turf.
Some of that was good.
“We were getting sick of hitting our own teammates,” quarterback Brett Chaperon said. “We wanted to get out there and get pumped for our first game.”
The downside came in the final scrimmage of the three, against Holt, where bravado mixed with frustration sometimes boiled over in minor skirmishes.
“The kids were excited,” Howell coach Aaron Metz said. “As the teams ended play, they fed off each other. It’s probably a good way to end (the scrimmage), with a little enthusiasm. It got a little chippy at the end, but it’s a great teaching moment.”
Howell, Holt, Lake Orion and Lowell have been meeting for a four-way scrimmage for more than half a decade. The coaches agreed to move the scrimmage to Tuesday this year from its traditional Wednesday, which in itself was a day ahead of the Thursday date of most scrimmages.
“That way, if someone gets injured, they’ll have an extra day (to heal) and it gives us another day to evaluate where were at and fix ourselves,” Metz said. “So the next two days is fixing ourselves until we (coaches) watch Monroe on Thursday. After that, we’ll prepare for Monroe (in the Aug. 28 season opener). It’s a two-day period to improve ourselves.”
Scrimmages are an opportunity, in theory, for teams to see how they fare against other teams, although many disguise their offensive plans due to the number of opposing coaches who attend.
Metz, meanwhile, used the 40-minute blocks of time against each of the Highlanders opponents to mix and match his lineups, using different combinations, sometimes at a moment’s notice.
“I think we saw a lot of improvement defensively throughout the scrimmage,” he said. “On offense, we’ve got to work on some things. We were working in a lot of guys on the offensive line, and that hurt a little of the chemistry.
“But we expect the next guy to step up and play,” he continued. “So we have some great film. I think we played three pretty solid teams and we’ll have some solid film to evaluate from.”
The slow start was an unwelcome reminder of the 2014 Highlanders, who frequently started slow and finished strong.
“We have to figure out how to start off strong,” Chaperon said. “We picked it up at the end. We looked good.”
“It was a great day,” senior Trevor Wetzel said. “We’ve got a lot to work on in the next nine days. We’ve got to work on it a lot. In the last (scrimmage, against Holt) we were starting to fall apart a little bit. But we came together as a team.”
The Highlanders have three more days of two-a-days, including a possible closed scrimmage on Thursday, before turning their sights toward Monroe.
Last year, at Howell, the Highlanders lost 21-14 as a last-minute drive ended on a fumble near the goal line.
“They took it from us last year on the last play,” Chaperon said. “We’re not going to let that happen this year.”