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‘It was what we expected’

Few people get overly excited when a football team hits the field for its first full-contact test in full gear.

After all, everything becomes different when you have players going up against each other at full speed.

Halifax County High School Varsity Football Coach Mike Roark was looking forward to Friday night’s drills, if for nothing else, to see who among his 46 players had a good grasp on the concepts he and his coaching staff have been teaching during the off-season.

“It was what we expected,” Roark said of the intra-squad scrimmage.

“We were ahead in some areas, and behind in others.”

Roark also had some players sitting on the sidelines watching, players that had just come out for the team and had not completed the Virginia High School League’s required acclimation process.

Among them were Tyler Stephens who played quarterback for the Comets for much of last season, track speedster Devan Richardson and Sergio Regalado, both of whom played on the varsity squad last season.

“They’ve got to go through all of acclimation days and so forth to get out there,” Roark explained.

“Those are there guys that probably are going to see some playing time.”

Roark said he and the coaching staff were able to get in a little more than 30 plays with offensive emphasis and a little over 30 plays with a defensive emphasis. 

While this season’s team is a younger team than last season’s team. Roark says this year’s team is further ahead of last year’s team at this particular point in time.

“Overall I was happy,” Roark said.

“The first scrimmage last year we were using cards for signals, and today we were running stuff like having freeze calls and moving on the first sound. Those are plusses.”

Roark used two quarterbacks in the scrimmage, sophomore Jacob Garrett and junior Kyran Adams. Several players got looks at running back including Garrett, Nick Vaden, Justin Logan Roland Brandon and kicker Kyle Lacks.

“The surprise was Kyle running the ball,” Roark noted.

“When your kicker can outrun everybody that’s a good thing.”

Roark said his two quarterbacks did a good job.

“Jacob will probably also play some “B” back,” the Comets coach pointed out.

“He ran the ball well at B back. We have a few more weapons this year. We don’t have to just give the ball to one person all of the time.”

The offensive system the Comets are using this season is very similar to the one that was utilized last season.

“It’s about getting athletes into space,” Roark explained.

“We want to see how quickly we can get the ball out to them in space and let them make things happen. If we can get our guys out into space one-on-one I think we can get four-five- or six yards a pop.”

Defensively, the Comets’ defensive secondary has improved over last season.

“I think we’re faster and stronger in the defensive secondary this year,” Roark pointed out.

“Malik Clark, Markyee Thomas, Alonzio Jones and Roland Brandon have gotten a little more aggressive and a little faster.”

The question marks appear to be up front on both offense and defense. Roark and his staff are having to replace a core group of experienced linemen with young players and are working hard to get them up to speed.

Among the younger players that were getting a very close look Friday were Jallil Palmer (6-4, 300 pounds), Ricky Tucker (6-4, approximately 260 pounds) and Jamal Hubbard (6-4, around 230 pounds).

“They look big and they take up space,” Roark pointed out.

“We got some good blitzes, and they created some pressure on the offensive line.”

The Comets will get back to work today as preparations continue for the start of the new season. Halifax County High School’s next test will be a scrimmage Friday night against Staunton River High School.



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