Eagles use preseason scrimmage, jamboree to gain experience

Published 8:00 am Thursday, August 2, 2018

While talking about his team’s upcoming preseason scrimmage and jamboree, it seemed fitting that Blake Purvis repeated himself several times.

Repetition, after all, is what he’s most looking to gain.

The Eagles will head to Pillow Academy on Friday afternoon for their first game action of the 2018 season. They’ll face Kirk Academy at 1 p.m. and Deer Creek at 2 in a pair of 20-play scrimmages.

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On Aug. 11, PCA will play Clinton Christian and Union Christian in a pair of two-quarter jamboree games at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. The season opener is a week later at home against Columbus Christian, and by then Purvis hopes the Eagles have enough live reps under their belt to come out strong.

“The reps is the biggest thing. With some players playing a new position, we’re trying to get reps and work on some stuff that we’ve changed with the scheme,” Purvis said. “The biggest thing with our passing game is getting live reps. It’s about seeing who can get it done and what adjustments you need to make for Week 1.”

PCA only had three touchdown passes last season, and its quarterbacks threw for a combined 580 yards. Both numbers were an improvement over 2016, yet still low enough for Purvis to emphasize some changes in the passing game this season.

He said the Eagles will employ a two-quarterback system with senior Cole Pittman and junior Luke Yocum alternating snaps. Pittman has never played quarterback before and Yocum has only seen time at the junior high level. Giving both of them some work against actual opponents instead of teammates is a primary goal the next two weeks, Purvis said.

“It’s going to be very important with those two guys,” Purvis said. “Cole has never had any snaps at quarterback, so it’ll be his first live action and an evaluation period for him. Luke has a little bit of game experience, but some of the stuff we run has changed and we’re going to ask him to do more.”

Another big goal is heading into the regular season healthy. It’s impossible to prevent all injuries in football, but Purvis said Friday’s scrimmage will be controlled and safety measures are in place to limit contact. He also said the preseason is a risk-reward scenario where the benefits outweigh the dangers.

“The scrimmage will be somewhat controlled. The offensive coach will have the whistle and there’s no contact allowed on the quarterback unless he becomes a runner,” Purvis said. “There’s always the possibility of an injury. The more you play, the more of a possibility you have. But you do get to see who gets tired and develop your depth more to avoid those injuries later on.”