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Jemison, MHS try new offenses

The Jemison and Maplesville football teams that took the field for a spring jamboree Friday may have looked familiar.

When the Panthers and Red Devils lined up and ran a play, though, fans may have been left scratching their heads.

The two local teams that participated in the jamboree, which was hosted by Jemison, lost only six players combined to graduation. But coaches Brad Abbott and Brent Hubbert tested their teams’ maturity by using the event as an opportunity to experiment.

Both teams unveiled a new offense, a more traditional I-formation look compared to the shotgun spread they ran last season.

Jemison running back Javae Swindle, a rising junior, was the team’s primary offensive weapon a year ago—and rising senior Isa Bentley was a productive second option. The I is more conducive to a rush-heavy attack than the spread, which requires a back line up on either side of the QB, dictating which side of the field the play will go toward.

Bentley and Swindle found plenty of rushing lanes Friday in an 18-8 win over Central-Coosa in what amounted to a half of football.

Maplesville defeated Central 22-0 and led Jemison at press time, 14-6, with 7 minutes left in the first quarter.

Abbott also said players had trouble processing the play call, which comes from the sideline without a huddle, and then players are required to look up their responsibility on a card strapped around their wrists.

“I just felt like it was time to get away from that,” Abbott said. “We decided we would use this as a chance to look at [the offense running the I]. If it doesn’t work, we’ve been running the spread for five or six years, so we could change back if we needed to.”

The change could also benefit Scott Clements, the returning starter at quarterback.

“With the shotgun, he has to take his eyes off the secondary for a few seconds to take the snap,” Abbott said. “When he’s under center, he doesn’t have to do that.”

Maplesville, meanwhile, ran the “I” almost exclusively against Central, with a few snaps from the “pistol” mixed in. In this formation, the quarterback lines up in the shotgun but closer to the center, and the back lines up directly behind him.

Against Jemison, Maplesville used a standard shotgun much of the time.

“We just used the spring to try some things; I don’t even know if we can execute it against anybody,” Hubbert said before the game.

Hubbert said it is difficult to get a feel for his team after spring practice because the Devils played Friday without three regular starters (injuries and suspensions) and because first-teamers were split up onto both sides of the ball for most of the spring.

“We do that so we’re not just running up and down the field,” Hubbert said.

Also, Hubbert said he would get all 43 of his players on the field Friday, creating some groupings that wouldn’t happen during a game in the fall.

“We’re going to play everybody we’ve got,” he said. “It looks unorganized because they’re not used to working together.”