Bearcats to scrimmage Byrd tonight

RHS will scrimmage Byrd tonight in Shreveport.

By T. Scott Boatright

After an up-and-down week of practice, Ruston High School football coach Jerrod Baugh hopes to see his Bearcats cap it off in strong fashion this evening as they travel to Shreveport to scrimmage at Byrd. 

“It’s been kind of erratic,” Baugh admitted of his team’s practices this week. “On Tuesday it was pretty warm out there and they struggled through the heat, but overall I guess it’s been a pretty good week if you compile all of it.”

On Thursday the Bearcats donned helmets and went through a walk-through of sorts.

“We call it ‘Move the Ball,’ —  just a game situation so the kids can prepare for what they’ll be doing tomorrow,” Baugh said. “We kick the ball off, we go out on defense. If the defense holds them we do a punt return. It’s just trying to get them in a game-flow situation.

“So we did that and then we did some alignment against a little bit of Byrd’s stuff — just some formation stuff that we don’t line up in. It’s just getting used to aligning against that old-school Wing T offense and getting our safeties thinking about where they need to line up.”

Baugh said the team also went through a second-round of weightlifting and film-watching in preparation of giving his team the weekend off.

“Normally we’d do that on Saturday, but we moved that to today,” Baugh said. “This weekend will be basically the team’s last Saturday off until the season’s over.”

Baugh said he wants to see how his team will look against and will respond to playing a team of Byrd’s caliber during today’s scrimmage.

“They’re always a real physical football team, so we want to try and match their physicality,” Baugh said. “It’s always a good start to the season in that respect – to see where we are physically. They’re going to run the ball first foremost, and both of their lines are always physical.

“Plus, you already know what’s going to happen when it’s your guys going against your guys. But going against another team that throws another element into it, I really want to see how our guys will react to that.”

Baugh said the RHS depth chart is near shaking itself out totally.

“We still have a couple of spots we need to get nailed down,” Baugh said. “Trying to develop some depth in a few spots is kind of our main focus, so we want to do that on both sides of the ball and build some depth in spots in case we have some injuries. And it will give us a chance to look at some personnel groupings we want to look at. 

“But I think we’re getting things tinkered with and figured out as we go along and hopefully by the end of next week we’ll have it all ironed out and know exactly who we are moving into that season opener.”

Two players Baugh wants a look at against another team are receivers Aaron Jackson and Zhy Scott.

Jackson played some as a sophomore for the Bearcats and became a starter for Neville last year before transferring back to Ruston during the offseason.

Scott played freshman football for the Bearcats two years before turning his attention toward basketball before returning to the gridiron last spring as a junior.

“Jackson had been here as a freshman and a sophomore and played a little for us as a sophomore, so he’s got a little experience,” Baugh said. “He played quite a bit for Neville last season and by the end of the season had become a starter. We always thought coming through junior high and as a freshman and sophomore here that he was going to be the big-time receiver out of that group, so it’s good to have him back and it’s given us a boost at that position.

“Coming through junior high we thought Scott was going to be a pretty good defensive end/tight end. He’s put a little muscle on, and we think he can really help us as a receiving tight end. He’s a threat catching a football at tight end, which is something we need.”

One RHS quarterback who won’t be throwing passes to Bearcats receivers against Byrd is No. 2 signal caller Joshua Brantley, who Baugh said will be held out after turning an ankle last week.

“He’s still taking treatment,” Baugh said. “He’s getting some physical therapy done. We want to make sure he’s physically ready to get out there week one if we need him. He’s coming along fast.

“This will also give our freshman No. 3 quarterback Lander Smith some reps, and it’s always good to get those younger guys some snaps. Josh will start easing back in next week.”

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