WHITE HALL — With the 2014 Arkansas High School football season slated to kick off next week, teams from around the state are gearing up for the season with some scheduled scrimmages.
White Hall (5A-South) and Malvern (7-4A) met on the field Tuesday night and both have high expectations coming into the season, as both teams are ranked in the top 10 of their respective classifications according to Hooten’s Arkansas Football.
The scrimmage between the Bulldogs and the Leopards showed a good preview of what is to come for both teams with White Hall winning 13-7, but also showed areas where corrections need to be made.
“We saw some good things,” White Hall coach Mike Vaughn said. “We knew our skill players could play, so we saw some good things there. Defensively, I thought we got after it in the second half a little better.”
Vaughn went on to say his team had a rough summer as the Bulldogs experienced some injuries and had players away for some time, and it could have been a factor on Tuesday.
“We have to work on our conditioning,” he said. “We’re not there just yet. That’s something we will spend some time on.”
On the other side, Malvern held its own against the bigger 5A school of White Hall and head coach Mike Scarbrough said he enjoys scrimmages against bigger schools.
“We don’t worry about size,” Scarbrough said. “We play up in our nonconference which helps us prepare for our conference. Playing guys like White Hall is something we are used to and we use it as a challenge and it shows us where we are at.
“We love playing White Hall because they have great athletes and great coaching.”
The Leopards showed a skilled offense led by star running back Monte Hernandez. Hernandez rushed for over 1,700 yards last year and Scarbrough expects another good year from his senior.
“I’m expecting a big year,” he said of Hernandez. “I’m not expecting two fumbles, but he is a great kid and a great player and he’ll fix that problem. I think (Hernandez) will have a big year.”
The scrimmage started out with 60 plays total between the varsity and junior varsity teams. After both teams had a 10 minute break, the two teams played two halves of 12-minute simulation game play with the exception of retuning kicks.
White Hall opened up the scoring on its second possession. Starting from their own 39-yard line, the Bulldogs marched down the field led by senior quarterback Kirk Baugh who rushed from three yards out to give White Hall the early 6-0 lead.
Baugh showed off his skill set on the drive as he connected with senior Daniel Sprinkle for a 43-yard gain and rushed for 18 yards to set up his 3-yard score.
After both team traded punts, Malvern answered back with Hernandez who scored from three yards out at the start of the second half as the Leopards took a 7-6 lead. Hernandez ended the night with 11 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Vaughn said that while he knows his team needs to make corrections, he was impressed with what he saw from the Leopards.
“They have a good football team,” Vaughn said. “He had a couple of kids hurt that didn’t play … but they have a good football team. They can run it and they can throw it and that will help make you a good football team.”
White Hall ended the scoring for the night with 6:23 left to play in the game. After holding Malvern to a three-and-out, White Hall marched 61 yards down the field capped off with a 30-yard touchdown reception from Devin Buckner as senior Joseph Failla added the PAT to make it 13-7.
Baugh amassed 197 yards of total offense and two touchdowns, while senior Kendrick Edgerson rushed for 43 yards on seven carries. Vaughn said it was good to have Edgerson back as he has been working his way back from injury.
“I think he’s well,” Vaughn said of how Edgerson looked. “(Edgerson) will play some defense too and it gives us more depth. We’re glad to have him back.”
With the scrimmage under wraps, Vaughn said he is aware of what needs to be corrected for the Bulldogs to be ready for Van Buren as the Pointers will roll into Bulldog Stadium on Sept. 5.
“We got some things we have to work on,” Vaughn said. “It takes awhile to get rolling, but we don’t need to wait very long because we have a good team coming to town.”