Good day of football, on not a perfect day



The effort to work around the weather was admirable, and it worked about half the day, but not the first half. The opening “Football Jamboree” at Pulaski County had to be moved from Dobson Stadium to the practice fields above and behind the stadium in the effort to protect the playing surface in Dobson.

It was an admirable effort, and necessary too, and for all the logistical issues that had to be dealt with in moving things around, and dealing with the irritating rain, there were all sorts of issues for the four teams involved. But in the end, it was an excellent day of football for Pulaski County, Magna Vista, Liberty Christian, and Radford.

No activity was curtailed. Everybody put their heads down and said let’s play some football. The upper fields worked very well, and from 1:30 until just after 6:30, there was football being played on both fields. And the fans came too. For sure, there would have been a nice crowd and the viewing would have been much better and far more convenient for the fans, but they were all over the fields at PCHS. Quite impressive actually.

And the four teams, varsity and junior varsity, got a full day of work in. When it was all over the Gatorade and pizza went away quickly. But the main thing was full gear, serious football the entire evening. Opponents rotated, and in each session there were 20 offensive and 20 defensive plays broken into two sets of 10. Both fields saw constant activity and the JV teams from PCHS, Magna Vista, and Liberty alternated scrimmaging for two and half hours. It was a football day.

It was also important for the four teams. Questions are answered or created in first scrimmages, and that was a major aspect for Pulaski County head coach Stephen James and his staff Friday.

But the Cougars, returning only four full time starters from a season ago, were impressive against good competition. There were questions in various areas of the team and the starting lineup coming into the competition, and some of them may have been answered in a positive manner.

The Cougars are thin up front, but appeared more than capable of handling the physical stuff at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football. The defense was tough against the run and the flanks held up well. The secondary blew a couple downfield coverages, but should be a team strength. The running game, utilizing both the tailback and quarterback was productive, and it certainly appears the passing game will be much more prevalent in “Cougarland” in 2017. The Pulaski County offense made plays. The Cougar junior varsity was dominant most of the day offensively, and defensively.

In scrimmages such as this, keeping score or declaring victors is not the goal. Answering questions for the coaching staffs of all four schools is. But the Cougars controlled the Radford scrimmage primarily with its running game. Magna Vista scored twice and the Cougars once, but the two busted converages in the passing game was all the Cougar defense allowed, Kellen Dalton hit a pretty touchdown pass to E.J. Horton for Pulaski County, and the Cougars narrowly missed two other opportunities. Against Liberty, the Cougars scored quickly, and did not give up a score. All this with constantly changing personnel. All the Cougars, from freshmen to seniors, had some mud on them at the conclusion of the day.

To say that it was a tired bunch of players and coaches that were all finally gone close to the nine o’clock hour would be an understatement, but James was “pleased” with his Cougars.

“Because of the weather it was sort of tough day, and you wish it had been better weather, and that would have been good for all the teams, and all the fans. We really wanted to play in the stadium, but we’ve got five teams playing here next Friday, and our first two games of the season are at home, so we could not take the risk of messing up the field in the stadium.

“But it was really a good day of football. I think everybody got all they wanted and more. We had some questions, and I’m not saying we got all the answers we wanted, but we got some of them and some players probably won starting jobs today and that’s what you want to happen in these first scrimmages. I don’t mind saying that right now, I’m happy with Pulaski County’s football team, but now we move on, and get ready for the big “Benefit Games” in the stadium next Friday. We hope we can polish up a lot of stuff between now and then, find the rest of the answers we’re looking for, and get ready to roll. Next Friday will be big for our football team,” added James.

In addition to the Cougars, George Wythe, Rustburg, Galax, and Liberty-Bedford will be in Dobson Stadium next Friday and the action will get underway at 5 pm. Admission is $5.00.

The Locker Room

By Dan Callahan

The Patriot