Mustangs open season with scrimmage

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Sports

August 27, 2018 - 10:26 AM

Iola football gave its fans a peek at what’s to come this season last Friday with the annual Blue and Gold Scrimmage.
The scoreboard read 42-6 by the end of the two-quarter game but with players taking snaps on both sides of the ball, it would be impossible to  name a winner. Overall, head coach David Daugharthy said he was pleased with his team’s showing.
“There were a lot of positives,” Daugharthy said. “I thought our tackling was really good. On defense,  we need to get a little more aggressive. We were sound assignment-wise but we just need to bump up the intensity.”
Daugharthy was more impressed with Iola’s offense. Despite the departure of a few key pieces from last year, the Mustangs have progressed in both their knowledge of offense and their execution of the playbook.
“Offensively, I thought we were sharp,” Daugharthy said. “I think it’s pretty evident that our option game looks better than last year. We actually got in some pitches and we weren’t able to do that until around week seven last year. We’re way more advanced.”
Three quarterbacks took snaps throughout the game including the projected starter in sophomore Casen Barker and senior back-ups Kane Rogers and Elijah Luedke. Each managed to make some plays either through the air or on the ground throughout the ball game that showed their readiness for the start of the season.
“That was very encouraging,” Daugharthy said. “We kind of left that as an open spot and let them compete. But all of them looked sharp. Barker could also play fullback for us. He looked really sharp running the ball. All of them really did some good things. Luedke made some plays back there so we have three capable guys back there if we need them. It’s way better than where we were last year.”
But the benefit of fall camp and the scrimmage is felt even more by those who are able to emerge after spending the previous season on the margins. Daugharthy has his eye on a sophomore and a junior who could really help Iola take the next step defensively.
“The guys that all played for us last year have all taken a step and look really sharp,” Daugharthy said. “Some of the kids that have taken the biggest step for us would be someone like Aidan Jones. He’s a sophomore who plays corner but could play anywhere we need him to go. He’s made some massive improvements and he’ll probably make some plays on varsity for us.
“(Junior) Karson McGraw is another one who didn’t play a lot last year but has worked really hard and improved a ton. Both of those guys have really impressed me.”

NOW THE WORK begins in preparation for the season opener at home this Friday versus Parsons. Last year, the Mustangs won a 28-25 squeaker in Parsons for their first win of the season. The Vikings will be led by junior DaQuan Johnson who tore Iola up through the air and on the ground and will be the top focus for Daugharthy and his team heading into Friday.
“We have to make sure on defense that we’re communicating on pass routes because that’s what got us burnt last year,” Daugharthy said. “Aside from that, we have to make sure that our pursuit is fearless and relentless to the ball. Last year he (Johnson) was running all over the place and we just have to keep pursuing.”

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