What we think we know now: Jamborees provide five insights on prep season ahead
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Maryville Orthopaedic Football Jamboree can be considered the prep equivalent of the NFL’s fourth preseason game. The scrimmages have provided the coaches most of the preseason insight and it’s the dress rehearsal for Week 0 or Week 1 with only a few question marks still sitting out there for most teams.
Breaking it down, here’s what we learned about the upcoming season.
Jaquez Tyson is for real.
The Alcoa running back shined in every aspect and is set for a breakout season. The junior has the line he needs and plenty of alternative offensive options available to keep defenses honest. More importantly Tyson has the speed and size to be special.
The Tornadoes aired it out a lot more than usual and showed no fear of going deep. Whether Alcoa does that as often or not in a game that counts is still unknown but it’s a luxury the Tornadoes can afford. Three times it was third-and-10 when Tyson got the call and he converted all three — 17, 55 and 25 yards.
That’s just scary.
His cousin — Taharin Tyson, junior fullback at Chattanooga — has repeatedly told those who ask him to make family comparisons to his own days as a Tornado that there wasn’t one — that Jacquez had no shadow from him. That seems to be the case as Jacquez looks to be more feature back the hybrid back for Alcoa this season.
Heritage is much better.
When a play ran out of bounds on the Heritage sideline, players had to move and get out of the way which is a big change from last year when there were hardly enough bodies to require anyone to shift around. The Heritage skill positions put some promise on display with RT Byrd at quarterback and the combination of Schuyler LaRue, Khalil Abuuhania and Orlando Bledsoe at running back. Caleb McDonald made a breakout play at wide receiver with what may have been the longest Heritage scoring play outside of special teams in years. The special teams — well kicking game, return wasn’t on display — has some execution issues to address but anyone looking more at 0-10 or making assumptions based on how the game went in 2012 looks to be in for a rude awakening.
Maryville still has the offense.
Defensive questions for the Rebels aside, the opposition is still going to have to outscore Maryville. John Garrett and Shawn Prevo didn’t play long but Maryville scored on a long sustained drive when they did. Cody Carroll made one catch — the Rebels only three it six times — but it was a good one and the senior came away with the fastest 40 trophy.
Scrimmage observers had been talking about Jaylen Burgess and everyone else got to see why. The junior was just a bowling ball knocking down pins on his way down field. Add in sophomore Jaylen Nickerson, who had a similar power approach before a shoulder injury and Dylan Shinsky’s speed and the running back options alone read lightning, thunder, more thunder and some more lightning for good measure before the mobility of the quarterbacks even comes into the equation.
The Govs are back in power.
While it isn’t all black and white on how good William Blount may be, the gray was a hit and so was the return of the WB attitude. The new offense and defense weren’t fitting like a glove yet, but there’s some time to grow and a big line to grow behind on both sides of the ball.
Transfer Peyton Otis did everything but drive the bus for the Govs — running, catching and punting in the 15 minute span. Otis is that versatile cog that takes Justin Ridge’s version of the spread to that next level of ability through versatility. Sevier County can’t be happy to have lost the two-way player.
It’s still a game of inches.
Seymour squared off rather well with Gatlinburg-Pittman — an old rival hardly seen in the season as the school populations took different directions — but two long passes that just cleared the finger tips of the defender gave G-P a two-score win in the Fifth Smoky Mountain Football Jamboree. The Eagles were out Saturday morning raising money with coupon sales — they have that new turf coming next summer to help pay for — and it was evident that no confidence hadn’t been lost.
How Greenback missed being the first team to play on the Highlanders new turf in Week 1 was just as close, but the ’Kees host G-P instead this time. The passing potential from the long time run first, mostly run second, run last Highlanders has to be as disconcerting as Alcoa’s throw it around display. The Cherokees have their own concerns on the passing game to address after the small numbers turned completions into interceptions in the MOC jamboree. The simple remedy will be to go with the quarterback that doesn’t turn the ball over, but the fiddly bits of figuring that out can be as elusive as reading a crystal ball with a crack down the middle.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times, follow him on Twitter @D3SportsMaracus or @TDT_Sports.