By GRANT ESSENMACHER Sports Editor
LYNNVILLE-- Typically when it comes to preseason football scrimmages, defenses are ahead of offenses. It takes awhile for the well-oiled machine to get gassed up and score points.
For the Princeton Tigers, the opposite appears to be true. In a scrimmage against Tecumseh Friday, the offense looked sharp while the defense struggled a little, particularly against the pass.
"It was good. You know, we don't prepare for this. So their front, we don't know, I mean, we play on the fly. I was proud of our kids," Maners said. "Defensively I thought we did a lot of bad things, we got some things we need to pick up on, we had guys not reading their keys and we're better than that normally. Offensively I thought we were fine, we didn't show much offensively, we kept it pretty basic."
The scrimmage was set up in the IHSAA "B" format. This means a period with both offenses running plays beginning at their own 35-yard line, another period where they run plays from the opponents 10-yard line, and a final period running plays from the opponents 35-yard line. Both teams managed to score four touchdowns throught the three periods.
The first touchdown for Princeton came on a slant to Dom Hardiman from Gerit Bock for 65 yards. Bock was sharp early, and overall Maners was pleased with his performance, but felt he still has things to work on.
"I though early on he (Bock) was really good. I thought in that last session there, we tried to get it in his hands some things where he had to read, he struggled a tad. But things will fix, simple things," Maners said.
The next two touchdowns came in the red zone session for the Tigers, where Bock found his big tight end Zach Dove, and slot Keith Garrett took an end around 10 yards for a score. The final touchdown came on a Darrion Madison rush in the third period. Bock also threw an interception in that period.
Despite struggling at times, there were a few standout defensive plays for the Tigers. Dove stuck a Tecumseh ball carrier early on in the backfield, which set the tone for a physical night despite the game counting for nothing. Devonte Hardiman was everywhere, lining up at defensive end and making play after play. The Tigers recovered two fumbles, and recorded an interception courtesy of Nick Jett.
As for the elder Hardiman, being relied upon to carry the ball offensively as well as make plays on defense can be tiresome. Madison, another two-way athlete, will provide the other head of the monster out of the backfield, which will help give Hardiman some spells. But, two-way players are becoming the rarity nowadays, and Maners said they will continue to monitor the workload for their jack-of-all-trades senior.
"We go with the hot guy. I think Darrion's good. Devonte's really good at times too. We're going to check with him, make sure he's not gassed, whatever he is, go from there. We trust Darrion the fullest, I think he's pretty dang good. So you know, we'll just ride the hot guy and whoever's got the freshest legs," Maners said.
Princeton will open on Friday at Evansville North, a team they lost to in last year's opener, 26-19. Former Gibson Southern standout Joey Paridaen is in his first year as head coach for the Huskies, so preparing for the unknown may be difficult. However, given the speed and athletes the Tigers have on the outside, Maners knows preparing for his squad is a tall order too.
"We didn't show hardly anything tonight. We dropped some balls that really put our heads down a little bit," Maners said. "We're going to be tough to prepare for, we got some serious speed. Like I said, we haven't showed much yet, I think we're alright, I really do. We'll see, we got a chance in a lot of ballgames."