Friday, July 21, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Titans get better at Southside team camp

Leader sports editor

BATESVILLE – The Jacksonville Titans football team split up for a pair of camps on Wednesday. Most of the varsity squad went to Batesville for a full contact team camp, while the rest of the team traveled to Rose Bud for a 7-on-7 meet.

At Southside High in Batesville, Jacksonville’s offensive execution was suspect early, but got better as camp progressed. Xavier Scott made the first big offensive play. He took a quick swing pass from Sharvarius Curley on a read option play against Southside and went 35 yards down the right sideline for the score.

On Jacksonville’s next offensive series, Curley kept on the option and squirted through a clogged up line of scrimmage for a big gain.

The first half of the camp, teams would trade three-play series no matter how much yardage was gained or lost.

After a break, teams came back for a more game-type competition. That’s when Jacksonville started executing better. Starting against Newport, the Titan defense gave up one first down before stopping the Greyhounds. Jacksonville’s offense then gave up an initial sack, but quarterback Harderrious Martin found Mason Wallace for a 24-yard connection on the next play. After another sack, Martin scrambled for a big gain to the 5-yard line, but the Titans failed to punch it in from there after two dropped passes in the end zone.

Newport scored on just one of its four possessions against the Jacksonville defense.

After moving to the other side of the field, Jacksonville lined up against Southside-Batesville again and went on defense first.

The Southerners hit a 10-yard screen to start, but Marquez Casey and Trey Allison combined for a sack on the next play. Southside picked up a first-down on the next play with a 15-yard completion to the left sideline, but Martin picked off a pass at the goal line on the next play to give his team possession.

Once again, Curley and Scott hooked up on the same play as before, the read option screen, and Scott again exploited Southside overplaying the run to score from 40 yards out.

On Southside’s next possession, Jacksonville’s Deboious Cobbs blew up a screen pass for a 4-yard loss on the first play. On the next play, Jacksonville appeared to have stopped Southside for a short gain on an inside run play. The Titans, as was the custom throughout the camp, let up when run was stopped and did not throw the running back to the ground. Southside’s coach yelled at his player to keep going and he scored with no one trying to tackle him.

After a brief discussion among coaches about the nature of the camp, whether to tackle to the ground in such instances, Jacksonville accepted the play and went back on offense.

It didn’t last long, Martin threw an interception over the middle on the first play, but the defense picked him up.

Southside picked 8 yards on back-to-back read-option handoffs, then got another 8 yards on a double inside handoff. But the Cobbs made another big play with an interception at the goal line.

The teams closed camp with a series of goal line situation possessions. Jacksonville, which only had 23 players at the camp and almost everyone played both ways, began to tire.

With each team getting three possessions starting at the 10-yard line, then moving to the 5, and then the 3, no matter what happed on the previous play, Jacksonville failed to score at all against Southside, and then only once against Newport.

The scoring play was a 5-yard run up the middle by Shawn Ellis.

The defense wasn’t bad in goal line. It gave up one score to each team out of six combined possessions. Casey recorded two more sacks during the final portion of the camp.