NEW HAVEN – From the get-go in Friday’s scrimmage against Angola, reigning NHC champion New Haven put itself on the must-watch list again for 2014.
We had some kids make some plays, and kids were competing and playing hard, New Haven coach Jim Rowland said. That’s the hope that we can replace some really good players. We have some pretty good players back and some guys who can make some plays.
On defense, the Bulldogs recovered a Hornets fumble on the first of 15 plays, and then the Bulldogs’ quick-strike offense struck on its first play for a 65-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Vance Shearer to senior receiver Travis Crowe.
Everybody is just making big plays, and we are doing good, said Crowe, who had another nice touchdown grab in the back of the end zone in another session. We came out here, and we did a lot.
Junior Mikeal Griggs showed some ability, including a nice interception, to lead a defense that hardly gave up much of anything to Angola.
Angola, under first-year coach Andy Thomas, looked overmatched by New Haven at times. They were pretty bland, and they didn’t show a lot of what they were doing, so they were kind of predictable in some situations, Rowland said of the Hornets.
The Bulldogs went 11-2 last year (7-1 in the NHC) but graduation cost them, including losing Ball State freshman receiver Jordan Hogue.
It provides us with a target on our back, Crowe said of the NHC title. We are supposed to be the big boys, so it just gives us that much more boost to do as good as we can.
It wasn’t all good news for New Haven, which is trying to work some younger players into the lineup.
We made a lot of mistakes, and we always do in the scrimmage, Rowland said. We have to go back and look at the film and be real critical of ourselves and find out where we can improve.
Both teams lost in the Class 4A playoffs to state runner-up Bishop Dwenger. Angola fell 45-7 in the sectional semifinals, and New Haven lost 42-7 in the regional.
Thomas, a former Garrett and Culver Community coach, said he is still getting his systems installed with the young Hornets, who were 6-5 a year ago.
We were just trying to compete, Thomas said. It was good to be able to go against a different school. I just wanted to see how we competed and how we handled ourselves, and I thought for the most part we did OK.
We have plenty of things we need to work on, certainly, but there are some things we can take as positives out of it also.
We don’t have a lot in, and we are just trying to work on the basics.