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Christian Melendez returns an interception for a touchdown for the Horatio Junior High at Mineral Springs. 

A main purpose of pre-season scrimmages is for coaches to find out things that would not be apparent in regular practice sessions. That proved to be true, in a good way, for Horatio who scrimmaged Mineral Springs.

“I learned we’ve got some more depth at A-back than I anticipated,” said head coach Robert Collum. The A-backs are the slot backs in Horatio’s offense, the backs that run wide every play in case of a pitchout on the last stage of the option. “Some of those that came out when school started gave us a lot of depth there. We have 34 on roster, 10 more than last year. That gives us the opportunity to be more diverse, not keep same 11 on the field all game.”

Reading the options is a skill that can only be learned with experience, and there is a new Lion at quarterback. “Lane Moya read the option fairly well at times. At times, he didn’t trust his eyes,” Collum said. “He will get better with more experience.”

The fullback dive over guard starts the option series. “Our fullbacks ran the ball pretty well,” the coach observed. “Connor Barron ran hard. Matthew Martinez caught the ball well out of the back field. That gives us more options on what we can do.”

The Lion line is a mixture of new guys and veterans, ranging from sophomore Dalton Dowell to senior Gabe Stephens. The Lions moved the ball better on one side than the other. “We had some missed assignments up front on a few plays,” Collum noted. “The right side of the O line looked pretty good. We’ve got to get the left side moving better; it will come with time.”

A malady that troubled the Lions last season did not make an appearance at the scrimmage. “We had no fumbled snaps.  That’s real good. That will go a long way helping us put together drives,” Collum said.

For the most part, Horatio’s defense held the Hornets in check. The scrimmage was not a game situation of four plays to earn a first down, but 10 plays per team on offense then switching. The Hornets broke for three long TD’s late in the 10 play sequences.

“The defense up front did pretty well. We had a few missed assignments, understanding gap responsibility,” said the coach.

“Those new comers didn’t do a bad job for not having many reps. Our tackling was fairly good. There were a few missed tackles. Part of it was Mineral’s speed, they took away our angles.”

The Lions will go from lots of speed to lots of size when they open the season at Dierks Sept. 6.

“They have a big fullback and are very big up front,” Collum said.

The Outlaws are still using basically the same offense and defense as last year, but have gotten better at both. “They are not the same team as last year,” Collum noted. “Their offense is about the same as last year. They run a diamond formation and also some stuff that looks like us.”

Dierks uses both a five front and a six front on defense but always eight men in the box.

The Horatio coaches were impressed by the video of the Outlaws’ scrimmage with Genoa Central. “Their overall team speed is better than last year,” Collum pointed out. “We’re going to have to play a solid game.”

The coach said the Lions and the Outlaws are evenly matched.

“They are much like us; they’re very young,” he said. He predicted the game will be decided by “whoever makes the fewest mistakes, whoever can create some explosive plays.”

Wyatt Marshall will pretty much do all the kicking.

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