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Preps

New-Look Mustangs Showing Progress

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: June 1, 2013 at 04:43 PM

NEW PORT RICHEY - What's the difference between a spring practice and a spring game?

"In a spring game, a lot of guys get to play," Mitchell coach Scott Schmitz, "and I get a lot of kids on tape."

That was important Tuesday night when the Mustangs held their intrasquad scrimmage. It was the first taste Mitchell fans had of football this year - and will be the last for about three months.

But the spring game was much more important this year than in previous seasons. Schmitz and his coaching staff decided last winter to convert from a spread-option offense to a veer.

To learn a new offense in only a few months and a handful of practices takes a lot of work and effort. After the spring game, Schmitz can rest a bit easier.

"As a whole, we did a good job," Schmitz said. "A lot of good things happened."

If this veer offense is to work, key players have to excel. And Schmitz thought some of those key players did just that. He lauded the play of returning quarterback Cody Vandeboe and was impressed with Rickey Trinidad and James Hamilton.

"Vandeboe threw the ball real well," Schmitz said of his 5-foot-8 signal-caller. "And Rickey and James did a great job running the ball."

Running is the key word. The veer is primarily a run-oriented attack, and the change to it is not something Schmitz did on a whim. He knew the personnel he had coming back and he thought the veer was the type of attack that could get the most production out of the players on his roster, and in turn give his team the best chance of winning.

"You want to put your kids in the best position to win," he said, "and I felt with the personnel we have coming back, this was the thing to do."

Because the offense is new, his team had to learn it in stages, with running coming first. So far, so good, Schmitz said.

Not all was good Tuesday, but Schmitz said he didn't expect the offense to be in midseason form.

"We have to work on the passing game," Schmitz said. "We didn't have a lot of time to work on that. We wanted to put in a lot of rushing plays.

"Our 7-on-7 passing camps this summer will give us a chance to work on that. Once that is in gear - which I have confidence we will do - I think we will be someone who is very competitive each Friday night."

The spring game wasn't only for the offense. The Mustangs' defense also excelled, Schmitz said, and answered some questions. One of which involved defensive end Dean Fletcher, a transfer from Palm Harbor University High.

Fletcher had shown signs in practice of possibly being a good player, but nothing that really jumped out at Schmitz. But during Tuesday's game, Schmitz singled Fletcher out as one of the defensive stars.

"Fletcher is a good example of how a spring game helps you," Schmitz said. "He's a new player. We didn't know a lot about him. He had a fair spring practice but in that game situation he showed some more ability. He really runs to the ball well.

"The spring game shows us what they can do in a game situation, and Dean was just one."

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