TERRE HAUTE —
West Vigo’s Jeff Cobb relishes the reading and reacting that he, as a high school football coach, gets to do on Friday nights to help his team win.
Plenty of former players and enlightened fans can also appreciate those gridiron chess matches that take place each fall.
They’ll have to wait a week for that as tonight’s action is all planned out entirely in advance.
Cobb has spent the week writing a script for every play of tonight’s scrimmage at North Vermillion. Calling plays is the easy part compared to getting everyone on the field in similar situations for the sake of scrutinizing game film to evaluate who’s ready for varsity action.
“The scrimmage is the toughest thing we do because you can only have so many plays for a kid. So any position battles, you want to make it even that the kid works with the other probable starters the same amount as the other kid,” Cobb said. “It takes a lot of planning. That’s the part that drives me crazy. But that’s part of it.”
Cobb will be particularly focused on his offensive line, figuring out who will be joining lone returnee and team captain Sam McClain. He has a couple juniors and five sophomores in the mix.
“It’s going to be who are our five offensive linemen that we can count on,” Cobb said.
For first-year coach Tim Herrin at Terre Haute South, he’s got competition at many spots to evaluate with only four returning starters on each side of the ball. Replacing current Purdue quarterback Danny Etling will be as important as any. His son Timmy Herrin and senior Taxi Brown will look to impress tonight as the Braves visit the Northview Knights, led by former South coach Mark Raetz.
Coach Chris Barrett can turn to his son, Chris Barrett II, to return under center for Terre Haute North. He’s one of 17 players back this season who started most of the time in 2012.
“We’ve got a nice core of linebackers, offensive linemen and some people we’re trying to figure out where they go on the defensive line,” Barrett said. “You’re always looking to see who’s going to supply you with depth.”
Private scrimmage scenarios and practice have already provided Barrett with information he needs to field a successful team.
“We’ve answered some questions but we still have some out there. The best thing is to get them into a game setting and into a game tempo because no matter how hard you’re going in practice, it’s hard to simulate a game situation,” said Barrett, whose team plays host to Bloomington North tonight.
With temperatures expected to fall into the upper 60s by scrimmage time, fall football weather is a bit early. It’s given high school players in the Wabash Valley pleasant, mild weather to go through two-a-days.
Coaches have enjoyed it, but they also want their teams to be prepared for warmer evenings in the next few weeks.
“It’s been nice, but you also wish it was warmer. You know we’ll have some warm nights. We’ve been able to get a lot done. You still don’t have the heat you need to get ready for an 85-degree night,” Herrin said.
“It’s good for the old coaches,” Barrett laughed. “It’s nice, but it’s scary at the same time; you never know when it’s going to change. If it changes on game day, it’s going to impact. If it gets back to the high-humidity nights, the health and safety becomes a factor.”
Raetz said his Knights had fewer two-a-day practices than most teams with an early start to school, but the Knights have been busy sharpening up for the season.
“It’s a lot more enjoyable to be out there. You know we’re going hit some games where it’s going to be 90 and humid,” said Raetz, adding that the Knights had time to work out in the heat throughout the summer.
“They’ve done a good job. The kids have really picked up the new schemes, offense, defense. It helps with the rules we have this summer. We’ve been able to practice all summer,” Raetz said.
Other scrimmages around the Wabash Valley include North Central playing host to Sullivan, Cloverdale visiting Linton, South Vermillion at Riverton Parke and Rockville at home against Cascade.