Poca filling in the blanks
POCA - For most high school teams, one of the most important aspects of scrimmages is a coach can look for players to step up and fill voids on the depth chart.
That was certainly the case for Poca on Saturday.
The Dots hosted North Marion at O.O. White Stadium minus running back Dalton Hedrick, who was expected to play a large role in the offense for coach Bob Lemley in 2012.
Last season, Hedrick ran for 1,026 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in addition to catching 20 passes for 257 yards.
Hedrick did not come out for football this year, but Lemley was pleased with the play of those that filled the hole in the Dots' backfield.
"Dalton Hedrick is not out right now but we've got two running backs," Lemley said. "One is Thomas Loudin, they call him 'T.T.', and we've got sophomore Levi Clendenin. I think Levi did a good job for us. We're not deep but we've got a couple of kids that can run it."
Lemley said in addition to Loudin and Clendenin, he also has senior Hayden Bailey available to carry the ball.
"Hayden Bailey is kind of a hybrid," he said. "He can play fullback, slot and end so we'll move him around."
The Dots' offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage against the Huskies on Saturday, allowing Poca's running backs and junior quarterback Jake Payne to move the ball with ease at times against the North Marion defense.
"We don't have a whole lot of size [on the line] but we've got a couple of seniors out there and you expect seniors to do a good job," Lemley said. "I think we're going to be improved and if we can get the line working with the backs, we should be able to move the ball."
The running backs didn't have all the fun for Poca. The Dots caught the Huskies looking for the run several times and were able to use that to connect on long passes down the sidelines.
"Jake Payne just keeps improving and if he stays healthy, then we'll have a fighting chance," Lemley said.
"We work on passing in practice and throw the ball around a lot. Sometimes the game dictates if you're going to throw it, but if you don't have anybody who can catch it or anybody who can throw it, you're wasting your time. I think we can do both this year. We did pretty well in the 7-on-7s in June and that gave them a little confidence. It's just a matter of execution for us."
Poca also had a strong showing from its defensive unit Saturday. The Dots' front seven spent a lot of time in the Huskies' backfield, leaving North Marion senior quarterback Levi Cyphers with little time, limiting what North could do on the ground and through the air.
North Marion, one of the new faces in Class AA this season, lost 16 seniors from last season, including Class AAA second team all-state selections Tyler Phillips and Joey Pitek, both of whom played on the offensive and defensive lines. Even without those players, Huskies' coach Daran Hays said he did not expect the Dots to be able to physically dominate in the trenches the way they did Saturday.
"Their front line ain't bad," Hays said. "If we play an average game up front, then it's right where we need to be. It's not where we want to be, but it's where we need to be for this time of the year.
"We didn't know what was coming. We've got one lineman, Alec Moscufo, who had two starts as a sophomore, four starts last year then broke his hand and missed the rest of the season, who was ready to go and he didn't do too poorly today."
The Huskies saw a similar result from their first scrimmage last year. Philip Barbour came to Rachel and, much like Poca did Saturday, dominated North Marion at the line of scrimmage. Hays hopes his team can bounce back the same way his 2011 team did, finishing 5-5 and taking its playoff hopes into the final week of the regular season by Bridgeport.
"We're going to really get pushed now because we leave here and we go scrimmage Philip Barbour, where we had one of our poorest performances last year," Hays said. "They waxed us last year. After that I thought we'd be lucky to win three games, but we bounced back. I can tell right now that [Saturday's performance] bothers them."