Annual drills leave Warriors searching for solutions

By Jeff Birchfield

   Filling the void left by a baker's dozen graduating seniors will be no easy task for the 2002 Happy Valley football team. Spring workouts, which culminated with Wednesday's scrimmage against Sullivan North, provided few answers on where the Warriors stand.
   "You usually end the spring with a scrimmage," explained HV head coach Stan Ogg. "Unless you have a team the size of a college team with 70-some players, you have to line up a scrimmage. Going against Sullivan North simulated a game situation. That's what we wanted."
   The scrimmage showed the Warrior coach some good things about a defense that lost most of its linebacking corps and defensive backfield, while also exposing some weaknesses.
   "I liked the way we got to the football," said Ogg. "There was a lot of numbers getting to the ball on defense. However, we didn't tackle as well as we will in the fall.
   "We graduated a lot of players. Our defensive line played well, but they have 'x' amount of experience. Our linebackers and backs have so little experience."
   Some of the plays that highlighted the evening for the Warrior defense included cornerback Brandon Whitehead laying a massive hit on one of North's receivers as he was going for the ball and Andrew Bowman breaking through the line on a couple of occasions to get pressure on the quarterback.
   As Ogg mentioned, the Warriors did an excellent job filling the gaps and in their pursuit. Their Achilles heel was inconsistent wrapping up with their tackling and trouble stopping the North passing game.
   On offense, HV tried out some new things from a shotgun formation, but found an old familiar scheme more to their liking.
   "We can only do what we do best," said Ogg about the Warriors using a veer heavily. "We practiced less option than in the past, but that was what we did the most successful. With the shotgun, you still have the option on throwing the ball and we did well throwing to the tailback in the flats."
   The tailback in the Warrior offense was Cody Cannon, who made a couple of nice grabs of Lamar Rollins passes. The two successfully turned the corner on some running plays with Rollins taking the ball inside before pitching out to Cannon, who turned the plays into good yardage.
   Happy Valley scored two touchdowns on the Golden Raider defense, the last one coming as Cannon bolted across the goal line after a four-yard jaunt. Casey Shatley added an extra-point, giving the Warriors some consistency converting on kicks.
   The experience of these players are key to the Warrior team, who currently have only a handful of seniors on the roster. Being a scrimmage, the luxury was there to experiment with different units on the offensive line. Cane Cannon, John Smith, Jordy Harrison and Daniel Dover all had good moments moving Raider players off the ball.
   At the wide receiver sets, Bowman and Michael Everhardt each were targets for Rollins, while Lance Whitehead ran making some tough inside yardage with the fullback dive. Ryan Toney and Michael Kerr each had time in the backfield and look to be key in relief roles for the Warriors.
   Ogg saw the need for much improvement on the offensive side of the ball, particularly passing and catching.
   "We graduated some experienced receivers," said Ogg. "We have to get some of these players more experience with throwing the ball. Our protection has to get better. Right now, we have a long ways to go.
   "There is some hard, quick work through the summer to be done."
   That work will be vital as the kickoff to the season is less than three months away.