As the sun was setting on T.J. Mills Stadium Friday, the Sealy Tigers’ 2017 football season was just beginning. With fans in the bleachers, cheerleaders on the sidelines and the smell of concession stands drifting over all of it, a sense of familiarity set in.
When the varsity team took the field against Kinkaid shortly after 7 p.m., the sense of familiarity was replaced by one of electricity and excitement. The Tigers started out on defense and after being driven down the field to their own 30-yard line, forced a fumble on a running play by the Falcons.
It was indicative of the Tigers’ entire performance throughout the scrimmage on defense. The Tiger defense was a focus for first-year head coach Shane Mobley who’s in charge of that side of that ball.
“I like the way the kids swarmed to the ball,” Mobley said. “We were very basic tonight just to see how we could react.”
The defense only showed a weakness on a deep pass for Kinkaid that went for a touchdown late in the scrimmage. Mobley said it wasn’t a mistake that is a cause for much concern at this time in the season.
“It was a busted coverage call, we didn’t get that called correctly,” Mobley said. “That’s a great mistake because I would rather give up a touchdown on a busted play during a scrimmage so we can go back and teach it rather than it cost us a [regular season] game.”
A particularly impressive series for the defense came at the midway point when Kinkaid had managed to drive all the way to the Tigers’ goal line. On fourth down, since special teams is ignored during these scrimmages, Kinkaid’s quarterback stepped back and fired a pass to a receiver in the back corner of the end zone.
At the last second, sophomore Matthew Lord deflected the pass forcing a four-and-out by the Falcons. The coaches and Lord’s teammates rushed the defense and celebrated around them for the feat.
“You know you’re out there and screaming and yelling and having a good time with the kids,” Mobley said. “Then you can see it, the determination on their faces when they make the big hit or run the right route and that’s big.”
On the offense, the Tigers showed promise but also made mistakes that showed there is still work to be done. Junior Garret Zaskoda started the game at quarterback for the Tigers and threw an interception that would have been a pick-six in a regular season game.
He would throw another before his reps were done for the day. Mobley said both interceptions were the results of wrong routes run by the receivers.
“Those were not the quarterback’s fault, they were just wrong routes,” Mobley said. “Little things like that, we have to go back and look at it and improve.”
Despite the interceptions, Zaskoda looked comfortable in Mobley’s new up-tempo spread offense hitting receivers on both short quick passes and connecting on several deep ones as well. The offense scored on the next offensive possession following the first drive thanks to efficient passing.
The running game especially stood out during the scrimmage with multiple running backs much to the credit of the offensive line. Lord stood out at back along with junior Ivan Bolden who broke off a run down the field for more than 70 yards late in the scrimmage.
After the game, Mobley went to the stands to meet individually with the parents then talk to them as a group. Mobley told the crowd what to expect from him and the team this season not in terms of on the field but how he would help them off it.
Mobley went over his high academic expectations for the players along with his desire to get to know them as people rather than just football players.
“Tonight was a chance for the parents to ask any questions but the community was out here today and that’s a chance to really meet the Tigers,” Mobley said. “We’re there for the kids, we know that’s their [parents’] life so I want to be open and let them know they can come talk to me and it’s not all about football.”
The team traveled to Brookshire on Aug. 24 to take on Royal High School in the Tigers’ last scrimmage before the season kicks off on Sept. 1 against Wharton.