Dragons seek mental toughness as they prepare for Westlake

Posted Monday, Aug. 25, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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There’s always a reason why football coaches favor a particular scrimmage opponent. Carroll coach Hal Wasson prefers Duncanville. The Panthers represent something totally different from what has been seen in fall camp.

“We like Duncanville because we can’t simulate what they bring,” Wasson said. “They are big and strong and very strong defensively.”

Carroll had its ups and down in the 10-play portion of last Friday’s scrimmage. However, when it moved to the controlled half, the Dragons were more efficient on both sides of the ball.

But Wasson also didn’t play it straight up either. Like most coaches with scrimmages, they either aren’t going to play certain players or they will limit what they want their key players to do. For Carroll, senior defensive tackle King Newton didn’t play. Quarterback Ryan Agnew did play but was not involved in the run game. Also, wide receivers Ryan McGiboney and Parker Fentriss, who are each coming off of ACL injuries, were held out for precautionary reasons.

Throughout camp, Wasson has spoken of a certain toughness his program needs to develop. This program has the physical side of it down. He wants the mental side of it reach the same plane. It’s not quite there yet. Preparation for this week’s 2014 season opener against Austin Westlake offered more time.

“Our kids picked it up and got more efficient,” Wasson said. “We have to improve quickly and really get consistent. The mental toughness of playing without the ball in the skill positions is something that has to get better.”

That said, the running game didn’t disappoint. Junior Lil’Jordan Humphrey has pretty much solidified himself as the No. 1 running back on this team. Junior Grant McFarlin is in a pretty good position to be the second running back but should get a healthy dose of playing time.

There are still some leverage matters both sides of the ball need to be addressed. For the offensive line, it needs a better way to account for goal line packages so running backs can dive over the top and score. For the defensive line, it’s just some fundamental matters that need to be refined so it can win the battle at the line of scrimmage.

Facing an old friend

The Dragons open the season at 7:30 p.m. on Friday against former coach Todd Dodge at Dragon Stadium (100.7 FM KWRD). However, Wasson has a simple response when it comes to this team preparing for this game with the subplots tied to it.

“We don’t talk about it,” Wasson said. “If we need that to motivate ourselves, we’re not very good. People can make a big deal out of it. That’s fine. But it doesn’t affect how we’re going to prepare for it.”

A sellout and potential overflow crowd is expected. See The Lonnquist Notes, page 2B, for more on the match-up.

Notable

Carroll is preparing its run for a ninth state title in school history. This time it will serve as a Class 6A school. The last title was in 2011. The first occurred in 1988. In case you’re wondering, the longest Carroll has ever gone between state titles was nine years (1993-2002) … a couple of young defensive ends to watch are junior David Trimino and sophomore Luke Jeter. Wasson said he was impressed how they performed in the Duncanville scrimmage.

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