By T. Scott Boatright
It was “Bearcat Madness.” It was also a “Friday Night Showcase.”
And it all highlighted the 2022 Ruston High School Bearcats football team and all the support staff, support teams, the Bearcat Band and all of the cheer teams young and old.
But it may have been a young Bearcats who showcased himself the best as freshman Lander Smith, part of the gray-shirt freshman team during the scrimmage, was also pressed into action for a little extra work with the RHS upperclassmen.
And he did so with positive results.
“He is our emergency quarterback, especially now after (No. 2 QB) Joshua Brantley rolled his ankle in practice (last week),” Jerrod Baugh said of Smith. “So Lander had to go in there with the freshmen and then with the twos (RHS second team).”
Baugh said it’s Smith’s composure that helped him make the most of his opportunity.
“He’s a mature kid even though he’s a freshman,” Baugh said. “He might not have a lot of experience, but he does have some maturity as a freshman. Caleb Hampton also got some snaps in there with the twos. So there’s a little competition at that spot.”
And Baugh admitted there was nothing fancy being done throughout the scrimmage.
“We kept it basic,” Baugh admitted. “This was about seeing how the kids reacted in front of the band and the fans and cheerleaders and all of that. There’s always something to work on and that’s one of those things — being able to execute with all kinds of distractions going on around you.”
Baugh also took a good look at the end of the scrimmage at the kicking battle going on between RJ Brown and Will Fendly, who both looked strong during their session.
“We were trying to put them in some stressful situations to see how they handled that, and I was really pleased,” Baugh said. “Two kickers is a good problem to have. We still don’t know who that guy is. They compete against each other and they’re good friends, so it’s a friendly competition. We’ll get it figured out or we’ll use both of them.”
Baugh said that even though it wasn’t a long scrimmage, the whole “Bearcat Madness” event was what the evening was really about.
“I thought it was good for what we wanted to get out of it,” Baugh said. “We just wanted to get out here and give the community a little of what they wanted to see of what our kids can do. I think it was a little hard for them and all that before and then suddenly shifting to a practice.
“That was one thing I wanted to see, too. Could they push all the distraction aside and keep going? And I think they actually did a pretty good job.”
His team wasn’t the only ones who did a good job.
“Our Booster Club did a really good job of advertising and getting this out there,” Baugh said. “They had a lot of things her for fans to do, or buy, or eat. I think it was a really good event with a great turnout.”
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