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High school football coaches utilize scrimmages to build for regular season
Johnson quarterback Sam Corbett (8) takes off with the ball during the 2016 game against East Hall in Oakwood. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

Knowing his program’s weaknesses sooner rather than later is a benefit to playing an early scrimmage game, according to East Hall football coach Bryan Gray.

“You can’t hide your flaws from the video,” said Gray, referring to the game tape.

Just four days after strapping up with pads and helmets in practice Tuesday, the Vikings will host 2016 Class 3A state quarterfinalist Westminster for a Saturday morning scrimmage at East Hall Stadium. Scheduling a program East Hall wasn’t familiar with was intentional on the part of Gray.

Scrimmages are the one time during the season where the score doesn’t matter, but they’re hugely valuable learning experiences.

It’s also part of the strategizing every coaching staff plays to have their team best prepared for the grueling regular season.

“We want to see an offense and defense we’re not familiar with so we have to make adjustments during the game,” Gray said.

Gainesville coach Bruce Miller considers the film from the scrimmage game — whether it’s good, bad or ugly — crucial to team development.

“I think you make more corrections off the scrimmage game film than any other time during the season,” Gainesville’s coach said.

Scrimmages are much different than the regular season but still a valuable tool for evaluating talent. Given that the season starts Aug. 18 for most teams, the scrimmage will be the lone dress rehearsal before the scores start counting.

However, scrimmages are a tool to pick apart flaws and find the best fit on the field for players.

Turnovers and interceptions in practice games are not a big deal. Touchdowns are not a reason for elation. Most players are simply trying to show they can cut it under the bright lights of Friday night in the fall.

With an extra week to prepare for an Aug. 10 scrimmage against Johnson, Chestatee coach Shaun Conley considers it more of a final audition for starting spots up for grabs on both sides of the ball.

“When we scrimmage, we’re just focused on ourselves,” said the War Eagles’ coach.

Even though the scrimmage contests don’t matter in the big picture, it’s still a reason for players to get excited to compete with pads on against another team.

Once the tape from the scrimmage is dissected, Gray said it will give him some time to smooth out the wrinkles before opening night against Habersham Central on Aug. 18 in Gainesville.

Scrimmages are important for Miller because they also show who is more likely to thrive in a game-like situation when the pressure is on. With such a rapid succession of events from the start of practice to the beginning of the regular season, Miller said it makes prioritizing events in the summer, like passing camps, even more important.

“Start of the season gets here really quick,” Miller said.

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