OC outing pleasing, for now

OC outing pleasing, for now
OC outing pleasing, for now
Pleased, but not satisfied.
Those were the general sentiments of Obion Central head football coach Shawn Jackson after the Rebels concluded spring drills Saturday night with a 27-14 varsity win over Dyer County in Troy.
Trey Phipps threw four touchdowns passes — two each to Mason McGrew and Tanner Cary — and the OC first-team defense turned in four straight solid series against a Choctaw squad that was missing all-state quarterback Dylan Dye and a handful of other players who were reportedly suspended for a non-school-related incident.
With most of his skill position players returning this fall from a team that averaged 30 points-per-game and scored 28 or more seven times in 11 contests in 2010, Jackson said the goal for these spring drills was to improve defensively and find new starters for an offensive line that was depleted by graduation.
“We know what we have in terms of who can throw and catch and who can run, but we have to be better tacklers and get much better defensively if we’re going to be a really good football team,” said the OC coach, who went 5-6 with a second consecutive playoff trip last year and will head into his fourth season at the Rebel helm in August.
“Nobody tackled worse than us a lot of the time last season, and we struggled some tonight with that. And we’ve got to get some people locked in on the offensive line. We’ll be huge, but I didn’t think we were very physical tonight. That has to improve.”
Jackson was mostly complimentary of his offensive playmakers, with Phipps — who threw for 2,400 yards and 22 TDs as a junior — connecting with McGrew on touchdown plays covering 12 and 70 yards, and then Cary for scores of 28 and 12 yards.
Running back LaDevin Fair had several nice carries and a two-point conversion scamper, while newcomer Marcus Parr — ironically a Dyer County transfer — made his big-play presence known with a handful of sizable gains.
Defensively, after giving up two touchdowns to a Choctaw squad led by sophomore Tucker Cozart, who led DC in Dye’s stead, Central settled down with some solid play and kept the Tribe off the scoreboard thereafter with linebackers Nathan Spaulding and Josh Quinton in on a number of stops.
Dyer County’s second-teamers did score twice on the Rebel reserves.
“Offensively, we were alright, but I’m concerned about how we practiced at times this spring,” Jackson continued. “Some days, we were magnificent. Other days, we were just average. The really good offenses and players don’t have that up-and-down, inconsistent stuff.”
“We’re better athletically now than we’ve ever been in my four years and the better athletes should be expected to make plays. We have to and should be expected to perform at a higher level.
“Overall, I’d give us a ‘C’ for the spring.”
On defense, the coach singled out Spaulding for his work in the scrimmage and said Jake Garrigan had turned in a good spring, along with Drew Hayes on the offensive side.
A proponent of the two-platoon system in his three previous seasons, Jackson said several players would be pulling double-duty this fall. And Cary, McGrew and Parr were indeed on the field on both sides of the ball Saturday vs. DC, with Kevin Cumana (center/defensive lineman) also likely to play both ways in the fall.
“We have everyone accustomed to what we’re doing now, so we’ll be playing more people both ways. The best 11 players will be out there on both sides of the ball,” he insisted.
Obion Central will begin its 2011 season with a Saturday night home game against county rival Union City on Aug. 20.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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