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Scrimmages allow teams a sneak peek

Mount Zion freshman wide receiver Lennox Copeland is expected to play a big role in the Bulldogs offense this season. He will get his first taste of varsity action on Saturday when the Bulldogs play Morrow in a scrimmage game. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Mount Zion freshman wide receiver Lennox Copeland is expected to play a big role in the Bulldogs offense this season. He will get his first taste of varsity action on Saturday when the Bulldogs play Morrow in a scrimmage game. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Teams will get a sneak peak on their preseason progress.

FOOTBALL SCRIMMAGES

Friday

ELCA at Dutchtown

Eagle’s Landing at Union Grove

Mundy’s Mill at Upson-Lee

Henry County at Ola, 7 p.m.

Jackson at Woodland

Stockbridge at Luella

Therrell vs. Forest Park

Locust Grove at Strong Rock

Drew vs. North Clayton (SC), 7 p.m.

Lovejoy at Peachtree Ridge

Saturday

Morrow vs. Mount Zion (T)

The official start of the high school football season is still a little more than a week away, but teams will be holding scrimmage games for a test run before the real games begin.

While the games won’t count in the win-loss column, nor have any region or playoff implications, they still provide an invaluable experience to the teams involved.

“These scrimmages are really good stuff,” said first-year Dutchtown coach Kevin Jones. “I’m so happy we get to touch somebody else for a change instead of beating up on ourselves.”

Jones came over from a three-year stint as defensive coordinator at Lovejoy. He’ll lead his team out on the field against defending Class A private school champions Eagle’s Landing Christian on Friday at home.

The scrimmage will allow both teams to play their freshman and junior varsity squads in the first quarter before giving way to the varsity athletes for the last three quarters. Jones said it is a great opportunity because both coaches share a similar understanding of what each wants to accomplish in the scrimmage.

“It’s a unique time,” Jones said, because progress can be made without teams having to be preoccupied with the scoreboard or other pressures that come with the season march toward the state playoffs.

But that doesn’t mean the typical competitive fire among coaches and players alike will be stamped out.

“Oh, we’re going to go after [ELCA],” Jones said. “I do like to win in everything I do, but there are also different levels of winning as well. It’s not all about necessarily points on the scoreboard, but you win in these settings when you see kids doing things that you’ve been training and coaching them to do when you’ve got the pads on on a Friday night.

“With a team like ELCA, anytime you go against a state champion on any level, they’ve got a certain swag, and they should. I want to see how our team responds to that.”

Mount Zion coach Ervin Starr, who’s Bulldogs will face Morrow on Friday night, agrees with Jones in the observatory benefit scrimmages provide.

“You don’t really know what you’ve got until you put the pads on them, and see it on the field against somebody else,” Starr said.

It’s even more critical for Starr, considering his Mount Zion bunch, just 1-9 in his first season in 2012, will come into the upcoming season with a rather large contingent of freshman and sophomores that are expected to make an immediate impact.

Starr believes the early peak at his group will provide some clarity regarding his roster.

“We know that we’ve got some talented players. But we want to see how they look in real situations.”

Jones admits that he has asked a lot of his players during their first offseason with him.

But he said he’s proud of how they have responded, and he — along with all other coaches in the area — is that hoping Friday’s scrimmage will give him an indication of the good, the bad and the areas of concern before the season kicks off in earnest in two weeks.

“I put the boys through a tough, tough summer,” Jones said. “It shocked their minds and bodies a bit. But now I want to have a measure of where we are. Where’s the discipline regarding what we’re teaching now. We’ve given them a new offensive and defensive system, different terminology. Can we move without thinking on the football field?

“We’ll see how it works out there against some athletes wearing different colors than us.”