Devils learn from 38-0 loss

Published 10:42 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011

An Escambia County Blue Devil is wrapped up by a Daphne defender in Saturday’s spring jamboree game at Daphne High School.|Photo by Adam Prestridge

Spring practice for the Escambia County Blue Devils rounded up on Saturday as the Blue Devils traveled to take on the Daphne Trojans in a jamboree battle.

After three quarters of varsity play, the Blue Devils coaching staff found answers to questions they had going into spring training, but not the results they wanted on the scoreboard as the defending 6A state champion Trojans won 38-0.

Despite the shutout by Daphne, Blue Devils head coach Mark Heaton was happy to get his players reps against a nationally ranked program.

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“After the loss to Bibb County last season where we were physically outmanned, I didn’t feel like our players responded to that real well,” Heaton said. “Our goal this spring training was to get our players in that same situation as fast as possible, and that’s what we did Saturday night. We knew what we were walking into, and I believe our kids responded a lot better. Physically, it was a beat down for us, but our kids fought every second and we never had any kids lay down. They fought every second of the game, and that’s what we wanted.”

Aside from the lack of scoring, the Blue Devils made progress throughout the game and had success on both sides of the ball.

Heaton said he saw good things during the game including offensive execution and a big stop inside the five-yard line that held the Trojans to a field goal

“There’s a lot of positives,” Heaton said. “We drove the football down the field well at times when we didn’t make mental mistakes. There was another time when we had a huge goal line stop that forced them to kick a field goal when they were on our three. There were several things that we did well.”

The problems facing the Blue Devils against Daphne stemmed more from experience rather than execution.

Heaton said having new players transitioning to the varsity were where issues arised.

“Right now, our biggest errors are coming from guys that have never played varsity football,” he said. “Half of our offensive line is new and their first varsity experience was Saturday night against a great team.”

Even with the lack of experience on the field, the coaching staff for ECHS was able to find several things they liked in their new players.

Heaton said that some good things were even found in mistakes made.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in the secondary,” he said. “That’s just because we have three new starters back there and it’s their first varsity experience, but we saw some good things even in the mistakes that they made. We are still getting fine tuned. We practice guys both ways and play guys both ways. Daphne is a lot sharper, but there guys get twice as much time. Where we practice an hour and 15 minutes on offense and then an hour and 15 minutes on defense, Daphne’s guys practice two and a half hours on one side of the ball.”

Now that spring training has come and gone, the Blue Devils will now go to work this summer to continue gaining strength and ability.

For Heaton and his staff, questions have been answered and now they know what needs to be corrected before their season opener arrives.

“We are going to be fine and we have the whole summer to work,” Heaton said. “I’m proud of the way our kids played and what they accomplished. For one, we did this game at a time that’s best. Our guys have the time to recuperate and it gives us time to get guys in the right positions now that we have answered some questions.”