NEW CASTLE —
Local high school football players took the opportunity to hit someone from an opposing team after a grueling opening week.
All eight Lawrence County schools played the first of a two-game scrimmage Saturday.
New Castle High, directed by first-year coach Joe Cowart, participated in a tri-scrimmage at Seneca Valley against the Raiders and Erie McDowell. Both opponents are quad-A schools.
“I think we did some really nice things and some really bad things,” Cowart said. “It was nice hitting a different color jersey, and the guys were enthused by that.
“It’s absolutely great to see those bigger schools early on. We need to be battle-tested going into the regular season.
Cowart enjoyed the opportunity of competing against two schools in the opening scrimmage.
“It’s nice because you see a lot of different things,” he said. “Seneca Valley will be really good this year. They do the no-huddle spread offense like Oregon and the speed of that offense is something you have to prepare for.
“We saw more of a downhill option team against Erie McDowell and they’re a big team. Your kids have to be ready to go.”
Jake McPhatter (wide receiver/free safety), Stew Allen (tight end) and freshman Pat Minenok (quarterback) turned in impressive scrimmage efforts for the Red Hurricane.
“Jake had a great day. He’s competing for a position on both sides of the ball,” Cowart said. “He stood out and made a lot of nice, effort plays. Stew had a good day, too, catching the ball.
“I thought Pat played well at quarterback. Overall, he was composed and did a nice job for us.”
ELLWOOD CITY LINCOLN AT GROVE CITY
The Wolverines lost 18 players to graduation from last year’s team. Don Phillips used the early test against a traditionally strong District 10, Class AAA squad to see where his squad was in the early stages of the season. The Eagles will compete in Class AA this year.
“It was a very typical first scrimmage,” Phillips said. “We saw some good things and we’ve got to get some things straightened out.
“We changed some things around with our defense and that will take time getting used to. It was a good start for us. At times we were consistent and at times we weren’t consistent.”
Ellwood City must replace starting running back Kyle Crawford and all of its quarterbacks from last year’s team that reached the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
“(Running back) Jared Meyers ran the ball well,” Phillips said. “He made some runs where it looked like he was tackled and then he broke it for a bigger gain.
“Justin Vetica handled our offense at quarterback extremely well. It was his first time starting and running the varsity offense. He showed a lot of poise and he threw a number of times to see how things were going to go. I saw some bright spots with our line, too.”