by WES FERGUSON
Bringing back memories of his team’s record-setting junior campaign, Hays High quarterback Caleb Kimbro found his favorite target, wide receiver Granger Studdard, for a pair of touchdown strikes in a Friday morning scrimmage against former District 27-4A foe New Braunfels Canyon.
Kimbro also scrambled for a 27-yard score during two quarters of live football, which ended in a 14-13 defeat for the Rebels in their only tuneup before the season opener against Burbank Saturday at 7 p.m. at the San Antonio ISD Sports Complex.
“I think we’re ready,” Kimbro said. “We made mistakes, but that’s expected in a scrimmage like this. I thought our line dominated the game, and that’s why we were able to move the ball so well.”
Before the live half got under way, the morning began with each team’s first-, second- and third-team offenses taking 12 snaps against the other team’s corresponding defense.
The Rebels’ first touchdown came on a 60-yard bomb from Kimbro to Studdard during set plays, when Kimbro rolled right and waited in the empty backfield for several seconds until a receiver could shake loose. He finally launched a deep but underthrown pass to Studdard, who waited for the ball, then jumped and snatched it away from the hands of a Cougars defender.
Hays’ second-team offense also reached the end zone during set plays, when junior backup quarterback Jeff Jordan faked a handoff and threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ty Goebler. Canyon could only muster one touchdown before the live half, when a third-teamer broke free at the line of scrimmage and ran to pay dirt.
When the live half got going, so did Canyon’s offense. Quarterback Austin Day caught the Rebels’ defense sleeping on the first play, with a 36-yard scramble into Hays territory. But cornerback Jared Rodriguez stopped the Cougars’ drive short with a quick interception on Day’s first pass attempt.
The Hays offense began its march down the field with a 14-yard run by Jackson Schaubhut and a quick pass on the line of scrimmage to Christian Rodriguez, which he turned into an 11-yard gain. Then Kimbro found Studdard for a 45-yard pass and the first touchdown of live play.
The Cougars wasted little time tying up the scrimmage at 7-7 on their next possession, when the quarterback scrambled in from the 10-yard line on fourth down.
The Rebels’ subsequent drive started strong again, when running back Beau Reed took a handoff through a huge hole and darted 40 yards, but the drive petered out with a holding penalty, a dropped pass and a sack of Kimbro on fourth down. Canyon, which is playing in Class 5A this season, relied on its ground game to move the chains on its next possession, ending in a six-yard scoring run.
The extra point gave the Cougars a 14-7 advantage.
Kimbro rallied the Rebels’ offense with another quick pass to Christian Rodriguez, who broke through a tackle at the line of scrimmage to dart ahead 20 yards. Another penalty and a fumble set up a fourth-and-long attempt. Kimbro took the snap and scanned the secondary but didn’t like what he saw. He cut back and darted past the first-down marker and kept going for the 27-yard touchdown.
The Rebels’ point-after attempt failed, however, and the coaches decided to call the scrimmage with about eight minutes left on the clock.
Hays head coach Blake Feldt said his players will have to work on the penalties and dropped passes, but the scrimmage showed that Hays is ready for its season opener.
“We moved the ball consistently all day, and I was very pleased with that,” Feldt said. “The times that we didn’t go in and score was just us screwing up. When we got in the red zone we had a turnover a couple of times, and then we got a couple of penalties in there that stopped drives. But I was really pleased with the way we moved the ball, and for a first scrimmage I thought it was good.”
He was also satisfied with the defense’s performance against a big, tough Class 5A team but said the intensity seemed to come and go at times. The Rebels’ outside linebackers also had a difficult time keeping the Cougars running backs from breaking to big plays on the sidelines, he added.
“We’ve got to get that fixed,” Feldt said. “They’re squeezing too hard inside, and their job is to contain. We had problems with that today, and that’s something that’s easily remedied. Our intensity level was good, but it needs to be great. And it needs to be great on every snap. We’ll get there.”
Senior defensive lineman Kyle Cox echoed his coach, saying he would work with the team’s younger players to keep them focused for the duration of four quarters.
“You’ve just got to stay mentally ready,” he said. “You’ve got to know where to go and know where to be at the right time. We’re doing a lot better. We just need to keep the intensity.”