Bishop pleased with Tigers' spring showing


For Adairsville head football coach Eric Bishop, the "spring" in spring practice doesn't stand for the season as much as it serves as a shortened version of "springboard."

He views the abbreviated schedule as the main building block for a successful season. The cornerstone of that building, it could be argued, is the spring game when Bishop gets his first look at how his team lines up in a game setting.

The score doesn't matter, so much so that the teams didn't even keep it, but Bishop was unequivocally impressed with how his players performed in Friday night's scrimmage with Armuchee.

"I feel real good right now," Bishop said over the phone after the game. "... These kids have kind of outperformed our expectations for the spring. They did that again tonight."

He was particularly pleased with the work of his younger players — those entering their freshman and sophomore seasons. While the defense allowed a sustained, six-minute drive, they didn't give up any big plays and the offense didn't miss a beat when handed over to the group.

It gives Bishop hope the team is succeeding in building the kind of depth needed to compete in the regular season.

"That's one of our biggest focuses," he said. "We're trying to constantly  build depth here. A school our size, we have to focus on depth and create as much depth as possible. ...

"I was really, really impressed with our young kids. Our ninth- and 10th-graders played in the second half. We didn't give up any big plays. ... We got the ball on offense, and our young kids really run our offense, probably, as good as any ninth- and 10th-grade group we've had come through here. I was as impressed with our young guys as I was our older kids with the way they ran our offense. It's very encouraging for our future."

Of course, there were plenty of upperclassmen who showed out Friday, as well. Savaun Henderson, who was a standout on the defensive side of the ball in 2017, showed plenty of offensive potential.

"Savaun Henderson, he sort of had the four-leaf clover tonight," Bishop said. "He played about four or five snaps on offense in the first half and had two touchdowns out of it."

The first-string offense, as a whole, seemed to flow regardless of who was inserted at quarterback. Mason Boswell continued to play exceptional at the position, while also seeing some time at running back with Derrick Simmons in at QB.

"Got the chance to see him at the pistol back tonight and was very impressed with what we saw there," Bishop said of Boswell. "In order for him to do that, Derrick Simmons stepped up and played quarterback tonight. He really ran the option well. That's something he really does well, and he threw the ball well — he had one touchdown pass on a bootleg."

Defensively, Bishop was impressed, if unsurprised, by the contributions of returning starters Chandler Shankles and Nic Jackson. He also mentioned how pleased he was with Zach Ogle's showing.

"That kid's name keeps coming up," Bishop said of Ogle. "He just does so many things and leads by example."

Overall, Bishop seemed ecstatic with how well the night went, especially how Armuchee's Jeremy Green and him seemed to agree on how best to run things. So much in fact that it appears likely the two schools will continue to face each other in the spring.

"We were more worried about us than we were Armuchee tonight," Bishop said. "We were trying to focus on what we needed to get accomplished. The checklist of things we wanted to see and get on film. The player combinations was a lot more important to us.

"Coach Green and I talked about the fact that we may stick to doing this, make a commitment to one another, because we are not worried about winning and losing sight of what spring practice should be about."

And what it should be about is being that big boost into the summer.

"This has to be a springboard into our summer program," Bishop said. "We'll take next week off, obviously, because it's finals week. The week after that, we return to weights and conditioning. I told the kids, 'We can't sit on past success. We have to strive to get better every day.'"