Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Spring game complete: QB Jake Larson is Coppell's No. 1 guy
COPPELL – Spring games are the real deal at Coppell.
The roster is split into two teams, Red and Black. They keep score. They even play four quarters, although it’s a running clock.
It’s about as close to a real game as you can get in May, although the quarterbacks wear protective yellow jerseys and there’s no rush during kicks and punts.
The rosters were divided so that the first-team offense was on the Red team and the first-team defense was on the Black team. The first teams knocked heads, with the Red staking a 20-0 win but the defense also making some big plays.
“We definitely see who we are now,” Red team quarterback Jake Larson said. “From what I can tell, we’re ready to get after it.”
Larson (6-4, 205) has stepped into the starting spot after backing up Joe Minden last season.
“Jake would start if we played tomorrow,” coach Joe McBride said. “He’s had a good spring. Tyler Zobajnik (5-11, 180) is right behind him.”
Lefthander Matt Gillen also saw action at quarterback during the scrimmage.
Larson led the Red team to a touchdown on the opening drive with running back Luke Jenner scoring from a couple of yards out.
Larson later found receiver Jacob Logan in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. Larson and Logan hooked up for gains of 18 and 30 yards on back-to-back plays to set up the score.
A 24-yard burst up the middle by Jenner led to the first of two field goals by Nick Jordan, who hit from 26 and 35 yards. After the final seconds ticked off, Jordan tried a 57-yarder that sailed wide left.
The defense had its bright moments, including interceptions by Dillon Speight and Jeremy Mortensen. Taylor Honeycutt had multiple sacks and a fumble recovery, and Patrick Hemphill produced a sack on third-and-goal.
“There’s just a lot of good, young kids in the mix that are hungry to compete,” McBride said.
Playing an actual spring game is a rarity these days. Most programs have gone to playing a controlled scrimmage or even a glorified practice to end their spring practice.
The game-like conditions seemed to heighten the competitive nature of what is, in reality, a practice. With a number of starters to replace, any kind of edge can only help determine the best at each position.
“You’ve got to earn your way,” McBride said. “And then when you earn it, you’ve got to keep it.
What Coppell accomplished in spring
With five starters back on offense and four on defense, Coppell had a nice balance of returning starters and younger players.
“We just got a lot of younger kids varsity experience of how we do things scheme-wise, at a faster tempo,” McBride said. “The big thing is just growing kids up.”
With the success of last year’s 13-1 season, expectations were high. But so was the focus.
“I think from a morale standpoint and kids being excited to be there, there’s a lot of carryover [from last season],” McBride said. “But like I tell the kids, that’s great for yearbooks and stuff, but you guys haven’t done anything. You’ve got to be hungry.”
Most improved player(s) of spring practice
McBride praised the off-season work of offensive lineman Jake Williams, a 6-4, 305-pound guard.
“He’s always been a big kid, but he’s worked really hard to make himself way more athletic than he’s been,” McBride said. “He’s started the last two years, but he’s just gotten a whole lot better as far as his movement.”
Skill position battles
Running back is a position where Coppell has a lot of options. Luke Jenner, Boris Malume, Chris Lavin and Gavin McDaniel are among those competing for playing team. Each had their moments of success in the spring game.
McBride said he’s looking for running backs who can handle the duties of playing in a spread offense. Versatility is the key, along with being able to pass protect.
“They’re all just good, quick kids,” McBride said. “None of them are going to be seniors. They just need that varsity experience and that maturation for another year.”
From the sidelines: “We feel like we’ve got a lot of guys that can play. We just need to grow.” – Head coach Joe McBride.
On the field: “There was a lot of smack talk coming into it. We’re all friends, though. The rest of the summer, all the way ‘til next year we’ll talk about who won the spring game.” – Jake Larson, quarterback of the victorious Red team’s 20-0 win over the Black.
Aug. 26: at Mesquite Horn (Hanby) at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 2: vs. Arlington at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9: at Jesuit at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: vs.Saginaw at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30: at Denton Guyer at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7: vs. Keller Fossil Ridge at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14: at Southlake Carroll at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21: vs. Justin Northwest at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28: vs. Keller at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: at Keller Central at 7:30 p.m.