AKRON – Both Phil Jensen and Jeff Shriver found plenty to be pleased about Friday night.
The pair of coaches also know that the tape from their scrimmage will also show plenty to work on.
That made for a productive evening for Jensen’s Warsaw squad and Shriver’s Tippecanoe Valley team as they squared off in a dress rehearsal prior to the regular-season openers in one week.
The big key was staying healthy and both teams seemed to escape the scripted scrimmage in pretty good shape.
Valley did get a scare in the injury department when star senior wideout Tanner Andrews was slow getting up after trying to snare a pass in the corner of the end zone. Andrews, who is receiving plenty of attention from Division I colleges, fortunately just had the wind knocked out of him and was fine. Andrews, also an outstanding defensive back, had 37 receptions for more than 700 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior.
Warsaw, coming off a 6-4 season, got a strong effort Friday night from quarterback Austin Head. The senior, who missed a game late last season due to an injury to his throwing shoulder, looked confident and in command of the Tiger offense, which features record-setting tailback Tristan McClone.
“Austin has definitely show growth from last year,” said Jensen. “I was pleased with what I saw from him tonight. He’s part of this senior group and it matters to them. The good thing is that Jake (backup Jake Mangas) is pushing Austin. They have a good, competitive relationship.
“I saw some really good things tonight. We will show them the tape Saturday and then they have to hit the field on Monday ready to go and with a never be settled attitude.”
McClone, who rushed for a school single-season record 1,718 yards in 2012 and scored 16 touchdowns, played only a few snaps both in the backfield and on defense.
“I thought it was important for our team and for him to get out there and get a few carries,” said Jensen on his decision to play McClone.
Valley got into a much better rhythm after a rough start in its first few plays. The Vikings return a slew of talent at their skill spots from last year’s 8-3 team, including Andrews, veteran signal caller Ben Shriver and Nolan Sponseller. Shriver, now is his third year as the starter, played a majority of the scrimmage in Valley’s shotgun formation.
“We have a pretty positive feeling about the direction we’re going in,” said coach Shriver, whose 3-A program won a share of its second straight Three Rivers Conference championship in 2012. “Once we settled down tonight, things went pretty well. We competed and for the most part our defense showed it’s ahead of where it was a year ago at this time.
“We got a lot of guys reps tonight and I saw good things from a lot of our younger guys and that’s exciting. We also found out we have work to do. Our job as coaches now is to get the best combinations on the field for us. Next week will be a big self-improvement for us. We won’t be the same team next Friday night we were tonight.”
Jensen also had to like the performance of Tanner Balazs. The senior did a little bit of everything for the Tigers Friday night, including catching a fourth down touchdown toss from Head and also rushing for a score.
“Tanner is going to do whatever we need him to,” Jensen said.
Warsaw hosts Columbia City and Tippecanoe Valley travels to Culver Academy next Friday. The Tigers defeated the Eagles 20-14 while Valley lost to Culver Academy 27-22 in season openers in 2012.