Following a three-way scrimmage with Centerburg and New London on Aug. 15, Galion head coach Chris Hawkins said the next preseason outing against Shelby would be a good test for his ballclub.
Who needs a crystal ball? Not Hawkins.
The Tigers and Whippets exchanged big plays as both squads of first-team players put on a good show for the fans at Skiles Field on Friday night. For those keeping score, Galion prevailed, 21-20.
“We still have work to do,” Hawkins said after the game. “Offensively, we made some mental mistakes. That’s been the thing that’s been hurting us. Jumping offsides, not lining up, turning up too early, improper alignment, those are all mental mistakes. Those mental lapses are gonna cost us points. We gotta get that corrected.
“Defensively, I don’t think we tackled very well,” he stated. “I didn’t think we flew to the ball. I didn’t think we were as aggressive as we were last Saturday. Shelby runs the same type of offense that Bucyrus runs, so we’ve got some work to do.”
All three Galion scores came on long runs of 72, 35 and 80 yards. Drake Barnett accounted for two touchdowns and Jacob Fryer had one. Likewise, Shelby’s touchdowns came via a 35-yard pass and runs of 61 and 84 yards. Hawkins said the number of big plays in the game didn’t necessarily surprise him, but did expose some areas of concern.
“We faced Shelby in a 7-on-7 and we picked off (Whippets quarterback Brennan Armstrong) three times and handled it,” Hawkins said. “I’m concerned about the plays he made with his feet, because Bucyrus’ quarterback (Gavin Lewis) is going to want to run, also. The thing is, when you face a quarterback who likes to do both, you gotta take something away. To be honest with you, I’m not sure we took anything away (from Shelby). Most of their big plays were run plays, and that’s a concern. We’ve got to get that corrected.”
Hawkins said the Tigers escaped the scrimmage against the Whippets largely unscathed and believes his team is in good overall health.
“We got a couple of dings,” Hawkins said. “This (game) worried me. I told (Shelby) Coach (Erik) Will that. You want to get ready for the season, get them playing and work up a sweat, but at the same time you don’t want to put them in an unnecessary risk for a game that means nothing.”
Ready for the Redmen
Galion has won six consecutive games and seven of the last 10 against its oldest rival, but Hawkins doesn’t expect anything to come easily when the Tigers and Redmen tangle Aug. 28 at the BHS Athletic Complex.
“This is going to be a huge game,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the records are because of that rivalry. I know Bucyrus sees it as a big rivalry as well. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Galion had to stage a late rally to keep its winning streak in the series alive in 2014. Trailing 22-21 in the fourth quarter, the Tigers surged ahead thanks to a 4-yard touchdown run by Arby Thompson. Caleb Ivy then hit Cario Davison on a fade pattern for the 2-point conversion that gave Galion a 29-22 edge.
Jordan Valentine picked off a pass at the Galion 25-yard line with 1:29 remaining to seal the victory for the orange and blue.
“I have to admit, I think we overlooked them a little bit last year,” Hawkins said Friday evening. “We’re not going to do that this year. If we overlook them again this year, we’ll get beat.”
Kickoff at Bucyrus is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Andrew Carter can be reached at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048. Connect with him on Twitter @ACGalionSports.