Mark Sartain didn’t like what he saw from his team on Thursday in Spring Hill’s final scrimmage.
More to the point, the first-year Panther coach was less than pleased with what he DIDN’T see.
Spring Hill traveled to Paris to take on a solid Wildcat team, but the good things the Panthers did were often overshadowed by turnovers and what Sartain said was a lack of effort.
The good news, Sartain said, was those things are correctable and the Panthers were busy at work Friday doing just that in preparation for next week’s season opener.
“We’re regroup and move forward. Nothing that happened in the scrimmage changed the way I feel about the kids or our expectations,” Sartain said.
The Panthers turned the ball over six times, with two leading directly to touchdowns of 62 yards (interception return) and 20 yards (fumble return). Paris also scored on a 70-yard pass play that came after the Panthers had forced Paris into a fourth-and-15 situation, but let them off the hook with a personal foul penalty.
“I was disappointed with our effort,” Sartain said. “We just didn’t play hard. It was like we were ready to get it over with and get on to the real thing. We just were not as intense as the week before, and we didn’t play at a good tempo. We’re a team that’s going to have to play hard to win, and that’s the biggest lesson we learned in the scrimmage. The team we scrimmaged last week (Troup) was more talented than the one we played Thursday, and we played much better against them because we played hard.”
Despite the off night by the Panthers, Sartain is still optimistic about his team — especially after looking at video of the scrimmage.
“It’s one of those things where it’s never as good as bad as it seems at first,” he said. “As we looked at video we did see some marked improvement in critical areas. The nature of that they (Paris) do on defense and the fact you don’t really prepare for a scrimmage made it look uglier than it actually was. There is no excuse for the lack of effort. We didn’t play as hard as we need to play, and we’ll address that, but I did see marked improvement in some key areas and in some young players.”
Sartain listed sophomore defensive lineman Breylan Bradford, junior receiver and linebacker Waylon McFadin and junior offensive lineman Josh Brittain as players who made positive strides in the scrimmage. Sartain said Bradford had 6-to-8 tackles and a couple of quarterback pressures. McFadin played well on both sides of the ball, and Brittain was solid in his first varsity action.
Spring Hill will open the 2013 season at home on Friday against Pleasant Grove. Spring Hill won last year’s opener at Pleasant Grove, 28-21.
(Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: @lnjsports)