Elks take step forward in final scrimmage
With numerous players missing some of the final week of spring football drills, the opportunity arose for younger players to get extended practice time and shine for coach Gary McElroy and the Elks’ coaching staff.
Burleson closed out spring drills Friday with one final scrimmage. McElroy opted to forego a spring game for another scrimmage where first-teamers went up against second-teamers.
“We had 17 kids that were standing around and weren’t going through the scrimmage,” McElroy said. “No one had any major injuries. If we had had one more week of practice they would have been cleared to practice.”
Having players out turned into a blessing of sorts because it allowed the Elks to build valuable depth among its younger players.
“I was complaining about it early on when we these injuries started occurring,” McElroy said. “But the silver lining was that there were some guys who got serious reps that they probably wouldn’t have gotten and they were able to show us some things. Those guys got chances to play with the first team and they played well.”
McElroy saw great intensity Friday night especially among the defense. The standout for the defense in final scrimmage was Jaterrius Plesant. Playing nose guard, Plesant wrecked havoc all night.
“He has really impressed us this spring,” McElroy said. “He was dominate Friday night.”
McElroy has seen a new fire among his defensive players this season.
“Defensively our kids are excited about playing defense as I’ve seen them,” McElroy said. “In the past four years, I don’t think I’ve seen them this aggressive and fired up to play defense.”
Offensively, McElroy was pleased with the play of junior-to-be running back Devon Stephenson, who just started playing running back last season after playing receiver since middle school.
“I think [Stephenson] is going to be a pretty good running back,” McElroy said. “He really worked a lot on running behind his pads, getting his shoulders low and not being brought down by one person.”
Junior-to-be Jaylen Johnson completed his move from running back to receiver although McElroy said Johnson doesn’t even know all the things the coaching staff has in store for him in the fall.
“We didn’t mess with him much this spring because we wanted him to get use to playing receiver,” McElroy said. “But we are going to use him all over the field next season.”
The battle between Hayden Whitten and Tristen DeLeon at quarterback will go on into the fall, McElroy said.
“It’s going to be a tough decision but it’s one of those good decisions because either way we go, we will be alright,” McElroy said.
The Elks’s first test for the 2016 season will be a scrimmage Aug. 19 at Azle.
Burleson opens the football season Aug. 26 at home against Saginaw. The Elks remaining non-district games will be on the road Sept. 2 versus Fort Worth Paschal and Sept. 9 against Weatherford.
Burleson opens District 9-5A play Sept. 23 hosting Granbury. The annual “Boot Game” with Centennial on is slated for Nov. 14. Burleson will be the visiting team.