The Josh Scott that Jackson coach Dary Myricks was looking for showed up late in the Mary Persons game.
Poised. Confident. Decisive.
And most importantly, the Red Devils’ quarterback was quick to release the ball.
“When he’s hesitant or not feeling it, or he’s not sure of himself, he’s late on throws — and in the game of football, the worst thing you can be is late on throws,” Myricks said.
Scott’s confident and confidence-inducing passes spliced drive after drive together as the Red Devils charged back into the game and erased a 22-point deficit. They eventually lost 36-29, but they found a confident quarterback in the process. Such a discovery could prove important when the Red Devils get into the meat of their Region 4-AAA schedule.
That’s the Josh Scott the Red Devils want to see from the outset as they play host to Strong Rock Christian in a non-region game on Friday.
“The constant battle with Josh is getting him to play with confidence,” Myricks said. “He played with a lot more confidence than he did in the first half.”
The Red Devils fell behind 19-0 after one quarter and were down 29-7 in the third before Scott came to life. Big gainers on passes to Anthony Henderson and Dylan Cody stood out.
“If you remember earlier in that game, it wasn’t like they got a ton of pressure on us, but there were times when he was hesitant to release the ball,” Myricks said. “In the second half, the throws he made to Henderson and the throw he made — you know, great catch by Cody — but sometimes we overlook the throw and Dylan was covered. His decisions were more crisp in the second half when it came to delivering the ball. His movement and body language is more definitive when he’s confident.”
Scott will need to be on his game because he won’t have speedster Dennis Foster and may not have short-yardage specialist Jalen Medlock available to bail him out of any tough situations against Strong Rock. Foster, on crutches, watched the Mary Persons game from the sideline. Although he has made progress, Myricks said, the Red Devils will err on the side of caution.
“We played well against a decent team without him and we want to make sure we protect him, so we’re probably going to be without Dennis this week,” the coach said. “Medlock twisted his ankle pretty good against Mary Persons and he was down last week. Really, this game versus Strong Rock comes at a really good time. You want to get your injuries out of the way early.”
It likely will be a good opportunity for the Red Devils to develop younger players, which has been a point of emphasis over the last three seasons. With Foster out, sophomore Cameron Edwards figures to get a chance to show what he can do.
“He’s pushing 6-3 or 6-4, he has really good hands,” Myricks said. “We’re still working on him getting stronger and being more disciplined in his routes, but he’s a player to watch. I think he’s going to be a fantastic player down the road.”
If there’s a good time for the Red Devils to be short-handed, this is it, given the huge advantage they have in depth over the Patriots. Strong Rock’s roster goes thirty-something deep, which might not hurt against other Class A private schools. The smaller the roster, the more two-way players you employ, and when fatigue sets in in the second half, the team with superior depth tends to pull away. The Class AAA Red Devils will have more than 70 players from which they can keep running out fresh bodies. It made a difference last season when the Red Devils won 49-7 at Strong Rock.
The Patriots beat Lakeview Academy 34-14 in their opener before getting overmatched in a 42-13 loss to Union Grove. So they come to Red Devil Hill 1-1, same as the home team. There, the similarities end. But it’s a good reason why the Red Devils will have to guard against feeling they can merely show up and win.
“As coaches, that’s our job, to make sure our kids understand that this is not a sure win,” Myricks said. “This is not a game where we’re just going to walk out on the field and somebody’s going to give us something. You start that conversation by looking at your mistakes in the first two games, versus Mary Persons and Locust Grove, and our kids understand that.”