PT coach says team improving
Aug. 23, 2013 at 10 p.m.
Pine Tree's offseason has been about putting the pieces together.
With its final tune-up of the fall in the books, Pirate head coach Derek Fitzhenry said the pieces are in place and that it's time to focus on the next test coming on Friday when the season kicks off.
"We really got our personnel settled, where guys are going to be for the first game and put the pieces together," Fitzhenry said. "I saw some really great things on Thursday, but most importantly I saw us come together as a team.
"The kids are really pushing each other, believing in each other."
While there were some miscues against Liberty-Eylau, the Pirate staff saw a dramatic improvement from the previous scrimmage and now the focus has shifted to Van, which travels to the brand new Pirate Stadium on Friday for the season opener.
"We made some mistakes that we're going to have to correct, a penalty here and there, things that are normal for this time of the year, but it was a dramatic improvement from the last scrimmage," Fitzhenry said. "And now it comes to zeroing in on an opponent and practicing against them for the first time."
Starting quarterback Dalvin Manns was turned loose running the football after being held back in the first scrimmage and the results impressed.
"He performed well, he ran the offense and had to improvise a couple of times and did a great job with that. When he ran the ball, he ran hard, he's like a fullback running the ball.
"We got to see him run some for the first time and we're fired up about that."
Doug Morgan also turned in another impressive scrimmage at wide receiver as well as returning starter Mason Hays.
"Those guys played really well again, as well as Quay Ward," Fitzhenry said. "There were also some dramatic improvements on the offensive line. They did a great job both pass and rush blocking for them."
Robert Hines, Jeremy Walters, Edwin Paz and Alex Kuitko anchored the defensive front, an area Fitzhenry is 'fired up about.'
"Defensively, it was really the guys running to the football that impressed me, saw a lot of gang tackling and that's always good to see," Fitzhenry said. "I just saw some really good things overall on defense and had some guys really step up like we were hoping to see.
"I'm fired up about the defensive line right now with their ability to make plays and play their role on this team."
(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)