By Randy Cavin
Press Sports Editor
First-year Dresden head football coach Wes Johnson discovered that the Lions have a lot of work in front of them after Friday’s scrimmage against Gibson County.
The Pioneers outscored the Lions 3-0, which is not bad for the defense, considering it was missing its two starting cornerbacks. The defense did give up some big plays, while the offensive line had problems blocking Gibson County’s front line of defense.
There is something people need to realize — Johnson has only been at Dresden a few weeks and this is his first time being a high school head coach.
“It has only been since the middle of June,” Johnson said about his arrival in Dresden. “I coach the offensive line and we have got to be a lot more physical. Gibson County’s defensive line is really good. They were firing off of the ball and we have not seen that. They jumped on us quick, so that is my fault. But, defensively I though we played really well. There were a couple of busted plays here and there.”
The Pioneers scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass in their second possession and added a six-yard touchdown run in their third time with the ball. That was set up by two runs of 20 yards or more. Other than that, the defense played well and was up to the task.
“Minus a couple of big plays, they don’t score at all,” Johnson said. “It was just a few here and there of 20-yard plays. I tell our guys all the time that if you eliminate the big plays, we are going to be fine, because there are not many teams that are going to make 15-play drives without turning the ball over. So, I was encouraged defensively. We are still trying to figure out the pieces.”
Junior quarterback Zach Crawford had a rough outing with four interceptions. Part of that was because he had to do some scrambling and another is the Pioneers’ secondary made good reads on the plays.
“Our offensive line did not help Zach,” the head coach said. “Zach is going to settle in. He has been getting better at practice every day. We need these live repetitions. We are a single-A school going up against a lot of freshmen on the scout teams. Zach just has to stay calm. He is a competitor and he will be just fine.”
Anybody who has watched the Lions play over the last several years knows they get penalized a lot each game. The referees seem to keep a close eye on them and they had a few costly penalties on both sides of the ball Friday night. One whiped out their only score of the scrimmage.
Chandler Turnbow had a fantastic 60-yard touchdown run in Dresden’s final possession. He even dodged two defenders when he got inside the Gibson County five-yard line before he crossed the goal line. However, a block in the back, which was quite obvious to the referee, negated Turnbow’s touchdown run.
“That was one of the most disappointing things,” Johnson said. “Apparently, Dresden has a mark on it with a lot of chippiness and stuff. But that is not who I am or about. We are going to get together, watch some film, and have some accountability for it. We are not going to be like that. We are going to play the game the right way. But, I saw a lot of guys hurting, fighting through it, and playing two ways on each side of the ball.”
Turnbow was not the only running back who had a good scrimmage. Quea Taylor and Trevor Moore were effective running the football. Taylor transferred to Camden last year but came back to Dresden this season. He proved to be difficult to bring down as it took multiple Gibson County players to tackle him each time he carried the ball.
“Quea is a great young man,” Johnson said. “He always has the best attitude and comes in with a smile. He is our sparkplug in a lot of ways. I am glad to have him on the team because he is a bulldozer at 225 pounds. Then with Trevor Moore, he is a competitor, to say the least. He competes in the classroom and in everything.”
The Lions will attempt to get the kinks worked out this week as they play Camden at home Friday in the final scrimmage. The Lions will play Murray in the Henry County Jamboree on Aug. 16.