WARSAW – Warsaw football coach Phil Jensen saw a lot to like from his new-look team Friday night.
Tippecanoe Valley coach Scott Bibler saw a lot for his young team to work on.
The Tigers and the Vikings got together for the preseason debut in a scripted scrimmage.
Warsaw unveiled its brand new offensive look, a shotgun, spread formation with an emphasis on a controlled passing game.
Jensen was pleased with the work of his new-look offense, led by smart quarterback Jake Mangas. Mangas, a 6-2 senior, did a nice job connecting with a host of receivers on the night, including sophomore brother Kyle, who caught a touchdown toss.
The Tigers rode workhorse tailback Tristan McClone each of the past two seasons in an offense based on the ground game. This year, Warsaw features a four-receiver look with plenty of tall and athletic receivers for Mangas to throw to.
Warsaw, which finished 7-4 in 2013, features an entirely new offensive unit with no starters back from a year ago.
“All in all, I’m very placed with how we ran the offense tonight,” said Jensen, whose team averaged 200 yards rushing per game a year ago. “This is what we were hoping for. Jake is a smart quarterback (ranked No. 2 in his class). He made some nice reads. He has some nice targets to throw to. The guys ran good routes and got into space.
“We gave Columbia City (next week’s opponent in the opener) a lot to see. But, we had to run these things tonight.
“Our intensity was good and we had guys catch the ball and make plays. On defense, we made a few picks and did not give up any big plays. And we came out of this healthy. What more can you ask for.”
The Tigers have weapons on the outside in the likes of the 6-2 Mangas, 6-4 junior Riley Rhoades, 6-2 junior Brock Riley and Sterling Hay to go with tight end Jeremy David . Rhoades, who was injured last season, also gives the Tigers another threat with his ability to line up at quarterback and run the ball from the shotgun formation.
The Vikings, who must replace a host of skill position players from last year, looked like a very young team.
“We are young in a lot of key phases,” said Valley coach Bibler. “We have a lot of work to get done and overall I’m not happy where we are at as a team. As coaches, we have to do a better job.
“We have to develop a toughness and play more physical and tackle better. It’s a matter of youth for us. We have to continue to be patient, but also push them. We are going to get better.”
Valley lost a ton of experience from last year’s 5-5 team, including record-setting quarterback Ben Shriver and star receiver Tanner Andrews.
Warsaw plays at Columbia City and Valley hosts Culver Academy in regular-season openers next Friday night.