‘PLAY WITH OUT HEARTS’

For The Tribune

Seymour football coach Josh Shattuck said he feels his team is further ahead mentally going into this season than where it has been at this time the past two years, but there is still room for improvement.

“We need mental toughness,” he said following the Purple-White scrimmage Saturday night at Bulleit Stadium. “We put our team through a pretty intense summer, and we had a pretty intense week (last) week. We just have a much more competitive edge.

“Yes our kids are stronger physically, and we’re a year older. We played a lot of young kids last year, and that definitely has a part on where we’re at right now, but we’re just a lot better mentally.”

The varsity and junior varsity players were split between the teams.

Seniors Chris Knight and Jordan Henry said they saw a lot of good things in the scrimmage.

“We had a great time,” said Knight, a senior safety and wide receiver. “We made a lot of progress through the week, a lot of hard work.”

Knight, who caught a touchdown pass for the White team said, “We made mistakes (on offense) but they are easy fixes.”

Knight led the Owls in tackles last year, and he has confidence in the defense for the upcoming season.

“Defensively, we’re going to stop a lot of people this year,” Knight said. “We’re very, very solid. We got after it in the weight room during the offseason.

“We need to work on our execution on both sides of the ball, and just play with our hearts.”

Henry caught a long pass that set up a touchdown for the Purple team.

“Coming off the ‘off’ week we really hit it hard, and did some conditioning,” Henry said.

“The defense really executed tonight and we all did our job, and the offense executed well. We caught a lot of passes and ran the ball well and got some yardage.”

Henry, who also played in the secondary for the purple team, said the Owls need to continue to work hard.

“We need to continue to work on conditioning and hit the weight room more, and keep on doing what we’re doing,” he said. “The heat bothered us last week, but we didn’t let it get to us. We drank plenty of water and got through it.”

Shattuck is entering his third year as head coach of the Owls and is coming off a 2-8 record.

“It’s year three of the system, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that kind of universally a lot of places when you’re rebuilding that year three is a huge year for you,” he said. “Every year is huge, but year three is when you should really have your program figured out. We’re definitely headed in the right direction.

“We have an unbelievable amount of work to do, but I feel we’ve really set the tone this week with just their energy and the 5:30 a.m. practices, and even our team camp in the summer we beat them down pretty good, and now we’re building them back up, and I think we’re seeing that, execution on both sides of the ball.

“Our kids are a lot more aggressive. This was nice to get them out here. They realized what a playing a football game takes from you physically from a conditioning perspective, and we’re in pretty good shape right now, I feel.”

The numbers improved over last fall, as there are 50 players from sophomore to the senior class.

Shattuck said there are 29 freshmen, and he expects a few more freshmen to report this week.

“We haven’t been able to have a true intrasquad scrimmage the last two years because we didn’t have enough players to put in the right positions to play two full teams,” Shattuck said.

“Tonight was nice. Our goal was to be clean and competitive. You don’t want to hurt your own guys, and you want to play the game the way it’s meant to be played.”

The Owls will scrimmage at Corydon on Friday night and will open the season at home Aug. 21 against Silver Creek.

“We’re not too worried about Corydon, so much as just going out and competing against somebody else, and that’s big for us, and it is a measuring stick, but you’re subbing like crazy,” Shattuck said. “Every day is an opportunity for us to get better, and we want to take advantage of that opportunity to the max.”

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Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.