Returning to the birthplace of Bearkat football Thursday for the annual Orange-White scrimmage, Sam Houston head coach was pleased with the team’s final spring practice at Joseph Pritchett Field.
“It was really exciting to come back to Pritchett and play some football,” Fritz said. “I was graduate assistant here the last season we played at Pritchett and it was great to be back.”
Through the past several weeks, the Bearkats have been working toward becoming more effective offensively, defensively and on special teams.
“It was a little bit wet and slick out here, but it’s good we have the turf out here instead of grass like it used to be,” Sam Houston State defensive tackle Gary Lorance said. “It was a nice atmosphere coming to Pritchett and having fans in the stands getting to interact with us.”
Quarterbacks Brian Bell, Don King III and Rubis Requeno directed the offense with the first and second teams.
During his stint with the first team, Bell ran plenty of play-action passes and also made some throws on the run. The three-year starter who has helped the Bearkats reach two consecutive NCAA Division I national championship games found targets in Chance Nelson, Stephen Williams and Rickey Smith.
“I thought it went well,” Bell said. “We made a lot of strides. We were fired up and ready to go and made a lot of plays offensively. We have a lot of firepower. It was fun.”
King worked out of the pocket, hitting receivers in stride and also effectively ran the option. Requeno took some snaps late in the scrimmage and hit a long pass down the sideline to receiver Andrew Leigh that nearly resulted in a score.
Standout running back Timothy Flanders and Keshawn Hill ran the ball a few times at the start of the workout, but tailbacks such as Ridgeway Frank, Steven Hicks and Cory Idlebird got the bulk of the carries.
“The main thing we were looking for is a chance to evaluate the younger guys,” Bearkats coach Willie Fritz said. “The older guys didn’t play very much because they’ve played for four years and we’ve seen what they can do. There’s going to be some guys who moved up the depth chart and some guys who moved down based off the scrimmage we had.”
Defensively, the Kats also got a chance to get some licks in on ball carriers and put their stamp on the spring.
DeAntrey Loche and Shelby Davis started as the first-team cornerbacks, while Michael Wade, Desmond Fite and converted quarterback Chris Grett saw time in at safety for a secondary that is looking for players to fill the shoes left by players that led one of the top defenses in the Football Championship Subdivision.
“I think we did good,” Lorance said. “As always, there’s room for improvement. We’ve got a lot of younger people in to get some reps and hopefully some depth for next year will come through based off what we’ve seen today.
“(The secondary’s) doing great. Everybody says we’re reloading back there and that’s exactly what we’re doing. A lot of them have been here for a year, maybe two, and they’re stepping in and filling in the shoes well. They’ve done all we asked them to do.”
The Bearkats also took a break from running plays to take part in goal-line drills between offensive and defensive playmakers and linemen.
With the stands packed, Sam Houston State brought its spring training to a close.
The Bearkats will get back to work in August for preseason camp before kicking off the 12-game, regular-season campaign at Bowers Stadium against Houston Baptist on Aug. 31.