If Sequoyah head coach Ryan Bolinger is searching for a ball-hawking defense, he need not look any further.
His Chiefs picked off three Panthers passes during Sequoyah’s scrimmage at Lenoir City on Friday, Aug. 9. Jacob Martin, Justin Floyd and Matt Lee all grabbed interceptions for Sequoyah’s defense.
“Just knowing their keys and knowing what to expect,” Bolinger said. “We had just a little bit of a walkthrough yesterday and I think that helped a little bit, (defensive coordinator Caleb) Newsome having them lined up and kind of walking them through it, talking them through it, on what to expect and what to do.
“I think they’re starting to understand the defense a little bit better two months in and they’re looking a lot better. Just reading those keys and playing that defense.”
And this isn’t the first time Bolinger has witnessed such a revelation from his players.
“Same thing happened to us when I was at Grace (Christian Academy),” Bolinger said. “When we installed this defense, 4-2-5, same thing happened. Took them a couple months to get used to it, then all of a sudden, boom, it just clicked. And we started picking people apart.”
The scrimmage began with a rare setup, as teams alternated between one play of offense, followed by a play or two of special teams.
“Just something that (Lenoir City head coach Jeff Cortez) decided on,” Bolinger said. “It was a little crazy. We do stuff like that in practice. We actually did this week, just turnover the ball, real fast recovery, get off, get out and just sudden change. Guys got to be ready on the sidelines.”
Sequoyah quarterback River Jenkins, who started the scrimmage, threw a pick-six on one of the Chiefs’ one-play offensive series. Sophomore quarterback Gabe Littreal, the apparent frontrunner for the starting job, was not available to play on Friday.
The rest of the scrimmage gave each offense a set number of plays, then a down-and-distance situation. Lenoir City scored twice, both goal line runs, before Sequoyah’s Evan Swanson produced the first Chiefs touchdown with a 60-yard rushing score.
The Panthers scored one more touchdown before the scrimmage concluded, a passing touchdown with both team’s reserve players on the field.
One issue the Chiefs faced during the scrimmage was fumbles, as Sequoyah ball carriers dropped it several times against the Lenoir City defense.
Sequoyah’s focus now shifts to the Sweetwater Valley Collision High School Football Jamboree at Sweetwater High School on Friday, Aug. 16. The Chiefs will face Polk County during the jamboree’s third quarter.
“(The players are) pretty excited,” Bolinger said. “They’re ready for the season. We’re ready to rock and roll. But more than anything, we’re going to keep it about the same as far as playcalling, stuff like that. Just execute. That’s what we’re trying to do.
“We’re not trying to go win a jamboree. We’re just trying to execute, get better and get ready for week one.”