Bell hosts Harlan in passing scrimmage

Published 3:00 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Tuesday’s passing scrimmage between Bell County and Harlan wasn’t about who could outscore the other. It was merely a chance for both teams to work on their passing game — an aspect of the offense that neither team utilized much last season.

For Bell County, the Bobcats continue to test the waters to see what is available to them on the offensive side of the ball.

“Kids are working hard. (We’ve) got quite a few depth,” said Bell County coach Dudley Hilton. “We’ve got competition. We all got to accept it and keep working hard because…we’ve got a little bit more to pick from now that we had this time last year. Hopefully, we’re on the upbeat a little bit.”

For the few who attended the passing scrimmage, it was also a chance to see Bearden High School transfer London Stephney. The junior, who played wide receiver for the Bulldogs last season, lined up behind center and took the majority of the snaps at quarterback.

“We’re just trying him out. He gives us a little quickness back there,” said Hilton about Stephney. “We’re just experimenting right now. It could go that way. It’s just too early to tell. But, right now, we are experimenting with him at quarterback. He’s got a lot of plays he’s got to learn if that’s what he is going to be.”

Issac Collett, who has been the starting quarterback for the past two years and tallied 832 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior, also took several snaps at quarterback during the passing scrimmage.

“Issac (Collett) is throwing the ball good. We like the new freshman quarterback (Cameron Burnett),” said Hilton. “We’ve got some good receivers. We’re just experimenting right now.”

The experience of the Bobcat defense was clear after holding Harlan scoreless through the first 15 plays of the scrimmage.

“We’ve got an experienced defense back. We started off good, but just like anything, you feel like you get flat after a while,” said Hilton. “(The defense) should be much improved. You’ve got your two linebackers, your secondary, your defensive ends…we’ve got people back. You can’t beat experience.

“I think we’re head and shoulders above than what we were last year. We know it better. My defensive coordinator last year put it in, and it was foreign to them. Now, it’s not foreign.”

For Harlan, the scrimmage was a chance for coach John Luttrell to see how his team faced adversity.

“We started out slow. Yesterday was our first day, and we did all of our conditioning test. Their legs were a little weary, but that’s one thing that I wanted to see — how they faced that adversity,” said Luttrell. “We didn’t do a very good job of it early, but I thought later on we kind of got in the flow and did a little better.

“We’ve still got a lot of improvement. There are still some things we did well, but it’s just so early. There’s still a lot of improvement to do.”

A team that relied solely on the rushing attack last year — averaging 53 yards passing per game, the scrimmage was a chance for the quarterbacks to get their reads down and the defense to get their coverages down.

“It’s like I told our guys last week…you might have a guy that looks like a superstar in a helmet and t-shirt. The bottom line is football is a contact sport,” said Luttrell. “You might have a guy who doesn’t look as good in helmets and t-shirts, but come Aug. 1 when the pads come on, he moves way to the top because he gets after it and knows how to hit. That’s just the sport that we’re in.

“Seven-on-seven gives you a little bit of a look on some things, (but) you’ve got to have 11 out there that like to run around and hit. But, we got some good work. It’s always good to work with coach Hilton. We got a lot of young kids some work, and so did he. That helps a lot to because you want those guys to get reps.”

Harlan opens the 2018 season Aug. 17 on the road against Floyd Central. Bell County opens the year on Aug. 17 at Middlesboro.