By Chris Brooks for The News Examiner
WHITE HOUSE – As the Hendersonville High and White House High football squads gathered for their annual scrimmage, both teams had one goal in mind, to come away healthy.
Since both teams managed to do just that, each head coach could focus more on what happened on the field as each team’s season opener looms next week.
“I thought it was exactly what we needed,” Hendersonville head coach Bruce Hatfield said. “White House was physical and aggressive. They established that presence, and it took us a little bit to get adjusted to that.”
Once the Commandos did adjust, they were able to come up with some big plays in scoring five touchdowns to White House’s three.
“It kind of woke us up a bit as to how we need to pace our game,” Commando senior tailback Jack Towe said. “We need to start off games well. We kind of got into it after a few minutes, but right off the bat, we need to start off a bit better.”
Hendersonville scored touchdowns on the first play of their series on three occasions. Possessions during the scrimmage began on each team’s own 30 yard line.
Both Commando quarterbacks who are fighting for the starting job – senior John Michael Oehlschlaeger and sophomore Brett Coker – threw a 70-yard touchdown pass. Oehlschlaeger’s short toss to junior tailback Terrell Carter gave Hendersonville its third touchdown, and Coker found Towe out of the backfield on the next possession.
In between those plays, White House senior tailback Tanner Jordan broke free for a 72-yard touchdown run on the second play of the Blue Devils’ series. Classmate Trey Hyde scored on a 23-yard run on White House’s second series, breaking multiple tackles along the way.
That run, and several similar to it, left Hatfield concerned.
“I hope they paid attention to the areas where White House exposed us,” Hatfield said. “To (White House’s) credit, they did a good job. I hope that we can move forward and get better from this.”
White House was guilty of two turnovers. Senior quarterback Steven Rankin’s first pass was intercepted by Commando junior defensive back Caleb Thorton on the second play of the scrimmage, and a mishandled handoff resulted in a fumble that Hendersonville junior defensive end Mailk Kinnard recovered.
“They’re always very organized, very disciplined, and they hustle to the line of scrimmage,” Blue Devil head coach Jeff Porter said of Hendersonville. “They, traditionally, will not ever hurt themselves with penalties or turning the ball over. They made a lot of big plays, nothing different with them.”
Senior Mike Harris scored on a 17-yard touchdown run on Hendersonville’s first series, and sophomore Anthony Hughes ran for a 15-yard touchdown on the next Commando possession. Sophomore Dyilin Hoosier added a 70-yard touchdown run late in the scrimmage.
“I thought we were in position to make a few plays, and I just think (Hendersonville’s) guys made great plays,” Porter said. “We didn’t make tackles. I think we’ll see those kinds of running backs in Maplewood, Pearl-Cohn and Springfield. We’ve had the opportunity to scrimmage two really good football teams this fall, so hopefully, we’ll be able to take that and learn from it.”
However, Hatfield wasn’t ready to make any decisions on position battles.
“We’ve still got one more opportunity to evaluate, and we’ll make a decision from there,” Hatfield said.
Back-ups saw a lot of playing time for the Blue Devils in an effort to keep most of White House’s starters from risking an injury 10 days before their season opener against White House Heritage.
Senior tailback Josh Flynn gave White House a 53-yard touchdown run for the final score of the scrimmage.
“We’re not very deep,” Porter said. “Even though we’ve got about 70 kids, we’re not deep at certain positions. It’s just important that our back-ups are ready to play.”
Hendersonville will host McGavock next Friday in its opener, but Hatfield feels that more work needs to be done before then.
“We were unhappy with some things,” Hatfield said. “We’ve got to have more of a humility-type approach to our work ethic and understand that we’ve got to have a hunger every day.”
Porter added, “The most important thing for us today was that we got out of here healthy. That didn’t happen here a year ago, so we’re thankful for that.”
Reach Chris Brooks at 575-7118 and follow him on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.