The season begins officially for No. 8 HMS and the defending Region I Champions when they host No.13 Caldwell County Middle School at Tiger Field behind the Fleming Thornton Field House this Thursday, August 17, 2017. The Mighty Tigers decided to hop a bus to Madisonville, Kentucky and play in the Browning Springs Middle School Bear Bowl (Jamboree) and take their new blocking scheme and run first oriented offense out for a spin. The early returns were better than anyone in Orange and Black could have hoped. HMS, who when last we saw them in the State Semi-finals in Lexington, Kentucky were stretching defenses all over the field with the Spread offense and zone blocking scheme have shelved that philosophy for a more run oriented, man principled, down-hill power game which sets up passing opportunities from off its run orientation.
Kentucky Prep Gridiron caught up with Tiger Head Coach Maurice Jesse and asked him why the added emphasis on running the football. Coach Jesse told us the following…I thought we ran the ball well last year but we played Spread and passed the ball with great emphasis because that is what suited last year’s personnel in addition to what our HS was doing under Coach Clark. When HHS hired Coach Craig Clayton who I knew would bring his power running game, which runs the football aggressively while still creating opportunities both wide and downfield in the passing game, I sent my O-Line Coach to learn, this summer, from the guru of the power running game, Coach Darrel Keith, O-Line architect at Christian County High School. I believe Coach Long’s relationship with Coach Keith and the addition of Coach Robert Stinson to the staff, who is even more familiar with Clayton’s attack than we, having before worked for him, has paid dividends in our ability to run the football and play physically.
In the first scrimmage, the Tigers were matched up with the host Browning Middle School Bears. Now the Bears, coached by second year head man Tyrone Gregory, are coming off a Conference Runner-up finish as 7th graders and Gregory has brought the program a long way in a short time and is poised to get the Bears program rolling, as was apparent to all onlookers. The Bears showed some talent at several positions and seemed to improve as the day progressed. When Kentucky Prep Gridiron reached out to Coach Gregory for comment about the Tigers, the Bears Head Coach was effusive in his praise. The Tigers will be very hard to defend and really are a solid team. A credit to the HMS coaching staff is the Tigers having way more poise and polish than I was expecting for this time of year. Offensively, numbers 25 (JaKay Matheny) and 30 (Jay Dillard) were particularly impressive as No. 25 is a bruising fullback who looks to weigh around 200 and runs with great power and very good vision and No. 30 was shifty and when he climbed to the 2nd and 3rd levels of our Defense he had a gear not many middle school teams can match. I thought the Offensive Line for HMS got downhill in the running game very well and seemed to carry the fight to the Defensive 2nd level instead of “catching” defenders in the offensive backfield. Defensively, No. 7 (Tyler Jones), had great length, maintained outside position well, and was tough to flank anytime we made an effort to press the edge on his side.
In the second scrimmage the Tigers again had great success running the ball and opened up the passing game a little with QB Trevon Jefferson hooking up with targets, Cory Coleman and Dre’Shawn Richards. Another running back who exhibited toughness between the tackles and was explosive in the open field, Andrew Ludy, is only going to get better once he feels less hesitant and more confident in his assignments. What may have been the most stellar aspect of the second scrimmage with Henderson North Middle School, a middle school football program any team would be unwise to discount, was the vicious way FB Jaiden Metcalf stepped up in pass protection and crushed blitzing linebackers, stunting defenders, or any defenders who had the misfortune of penetrating into the backfield. The opposing defenders wandering into the offensive backfield looking for a QB to crush usually found a coiled and waiting Metcalf salivating like a hungry Tiger pounces on prey.
As for the Bear Bowl in general Coach Gregory and all the workers at Browning Springs Middle School put on a first class event with first class facilities and amenities and it was a pleasure being there and enjoying fun competition between four of the finest Middle School teams in the area (HMS, BSMS, Henderson North and Christian County Middle School). Middle School Coaches should make a note that the Bear Bowl, in its first year, was a great success. Coaches and MS AD’s should take any and all opportunities to get their team in next year’s event.
This is Fletcher Long reporting for Kentucky Prep Gridiron reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!