Sophomore Defenders Have Big Nights in Tatum vs. Gladewater Scrimmage
GLADEWATER -- The yardage was there, but the points weren't for Tatum and Gladewater during Friday night's scrimmage at Jack V. Murphy Bear Stadium.
Nevertheless, both head coaches were pleased with what they saw from their respective teams.
"I thought it was a good scrimmage for both teams from freshmen all the way up. They've got a good football program and I think it was good for us to be able to come out and compete like we did against those guys because (Tatum) coach (Andy) Evans and his guys do a real good job of coaching, and they're prepared," Baugh said. "That's what we're trying to get to. We're at that stage in our program trying to get over the hump, and I think we took a step forward toward that."
Evans was happy to get a lot of players reps and see flashes of execution, though one aspect of his team's play irked him.
"I think we played soft on defense. Our kids are not soft-natured, but early in the year, and it happens every year, we stand up really bad and we get driven back," Evans said. "When you play good linemen they're going to knock you backwards. We'll go back next week and we'll concentrate on staying low and they'll be great next week. That's just what happens when you've been scrimmaging against guys you can whip every down in practice."
A pair of sophomore defenders stood out. Gladewater defensive tackle Daylon Mack (6-2, 297) could be one of East Texas' biggest recruits in the 2015 class. Mack had a sack and multiple tackles for loss, terrorizing Tatum's front all night. Mack teams with senior tackle L.D. Anthony (5-10, 302), who had 10 tackles for loss in 2011, to give Gladewater a formidable interior defensive duo.
"It's going to be rough on some teams," Baugh said of his tackle tandem. "I don't know through my coaching career, even coaching at Longview for those 10 years, that we had two guys like those. They're not only just big guys, but they run real well."
Tatum had a super sophomore of its own in linebacker Kyshaun Smith (6-0, 185), who is the son of former Tatum star and NFL linebacker Travian Smith. Kyshaun Smith had two sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery, which he would've returned for a touchdown had the guidelines of the controlled portion of the scrimmage not called for the play to be blown dead once he recovered the ball.
Both teams moved the ball during the controlled portion, which consisted of about 40 offensive plays apiece. Tatum gained 196 yards, including 119 on the ground, while Gladewater gained 191, 151 rushing. Tatum scored two touchdowns to Gladewater's one during the controlled portion, which saw Eagle running back Shaquille Johnson (5-5, 155) gain 71 yards on six carries, one of which was a highlight reel 46-yard touchdown run.
Tatum quarterbacks Darian Brooks (6-2, 200) and Javolick Garrett (6-0, 180), who had an interception playing safety, each got significant time running the offense. Brooks was 9-for-13 for 42 yards and an interception, while Garrett was 4-for-7 for 35 yards during the controlled portion.
Tatum won the 20-minute live period that concluded the scrimmage thanks to Klifton Willis' 42-yard interception return touchdown, which gave the Eagles a 7-6 advantage. In the live period, Brooks was 1-for-3 for seven yards, while Garrett was 3-for-4 for 27 yards. Gladewater outgained Tatum 114-91 in the 20-minute period with all 114 yards coming on the ground. Mack and Anthony helped hold Tatum to 57 yards on 17 rushing attempts in that span.
Gladewater had the only scoring drive of the live period. Quarterback Derrick Daniels (6-1, 182) threw two picks in that portion of the scrimmage, but ran for 82 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, which accompanied the 77 yards on 12 totes he compiled during the controlled portion. Tailback Tyler Price (5-8, 162) also impressed. He ran for 52 yards on 12 carries during the controlled portion, then gained 32 yards on five carries in the live period.
Gladewater's lone touchdown of the scrimmage came on a six-yard slant-route strike from Daniels to Nick Johnson. Daniels was 3-for-10 for 40 yards during the controlled portion. Daniels was the victim of multiple drops, as well as a Tatum secondary Evans called "the strength of our team."
"Being a three-year starter is a bonus, and (Daniels) is a real smart kid and we're able to do some more things on offense that we weren't able to do the past couple of years," Baugh said. "Experience, there's no substitute for that."
Tatum hosts Rusk on Aug. 24 in a scrimmage, while Gladewater visits Carthage the same night. Seeing Mack and Anthony go against the girth of Carthage's offensive line, which includes junior guards Griffin Bankhead (6-3, 290) and Adrian Goodacre (6-4, 325), should be a treat for fans.
As for Tatum, Evans' hope for the Eagles' final tune-up is clear.
"I want us to play much more physical," he said.