Heading into the summer off-season program, Miami head coach Chris Risenhoover is pretty pleased with the direction his Wardogs are headed.
“The timing on offense wasn't there, but I was pleased with the defense,” Risenhoover said following a controlled scrimmage Thursday afternoon that wrapped up 10 days of spring drills.
“We had some kids step up on the front seven,” said Risenhoover, who is putting together his fourth MHS squad. “It looked like we have the capability of being a lot more physical on that side of the ball. I was happy to see that. They seemed to play with a little sense of urgency, played physical football and refused to be blocked.”
Kyle Zabel, Sammy Humble, Victor Strena and Cody Sharp were among the defensive players cited by Risenhoover.
“The quarterbacks had a few balls thrown into the ground that would be easy completions,” he said. “There were some little things we will have to sharpen up.”
Senior wide receiver Chris Smith caught a 70-yard touchdown pass early in Friday's scrimmage and Nick Henson and James Pickens drew praise from Risenhoover.
“Nick has a chance to be as good receiver as we've had,” Risenhoover said. “He's really developed athletically over the years. It looks like his speed has improved. James has good skills, too.
“We have some quality receivers out there,” Risenhoover said. “I wish we had two or three more, because those kids are also going to have to play on defense. We will just have to do a good job of managing them.”
Junior southpaw Grant Longcrier has been vying with returning starter Trent Turner for the quarterback job.
“We will let them continue to battle and will probably make a decision (on a starter) at the end of the NEO team camp (in early June),” Risenhoover said. “Both are athletic enough to go play another position on offense. What it boils down to, who ever wins out will be a one-way player and the other will be a two-way player because both are physical enough and have good enough skills that they can play a variety of other positions.
“I was pleased with both of them in the scrimmage.”
In addition to the NEO camp, the Wardogs will join Wyandotte on June 2 and June 9 for 7-on-7 passing drills then will go to Little Rock, Ark., on June 15-16 for the “Shootout of the South.”
“That is as good of a tournament as there is in the 7-on-7 summer leagues,” Risenhoover said. This will be the third straight year MHS has competed in the tournament, which is hosted by Pulaski Academy.