Bearcat Nation got a glimpse of the near future this morning as the defending state-champion Aledo Bearcats held their final practice in May with its annual spring game at Bearcat Stadium.
The big question entering spring football was the challenge for the new starting quarterback position left vacant by the graduation of two-year starter Dillon Davis. The spring game was supposed to be the final measuring stick as to which competing signal caller – Jake Bishop, Jake Norwood, Tre Owens and Hunter Rosson – could possibly win the starting job.
But Bishop has taken all of the repetitions with the No. 1 offense during the first 14 practices, and today he took every snap with the No. 1 unit. Rosson missed all spring practices except one – the one where he rolled his ankle to put him out for the remaining practices. He had missed most of the spring practices playing on the Bearcats baseball team that went deep in the playoffs in May. Rosson will stay at wide receiver, where he is 54 catches shy of setting a school record. He can also eclipse school marks in career receiving yardage and touchdowns.
Owens, who the coaches are also looking at as a starting safety, played quarterback and running back today.
Bishop led several long drives in the spring game, including a touchdown drive during the No. 1 unit’s final drive of the game. Norwood capped a TD drive with a scramble to the end zone.
Bearcats head coach Steve Wood said no position is won until “that first game on Friday night” but acknowledged Bishop has taken every snap in spring football with the first unit.
“(Fans and media) can read into that what they want,” Wood said.
Wood said after the spring game he was pleased with all of his quarterbacks.
“I thought all of the quarterbacks executed and competed well, which is really what we wanted to see,” he said. “They handled the heat and the contact, and for the most part they did a good job of getting the ball to the receivers.”
Another question mark entering spring workouts was the offensive line. The Bearcats will return only one starter next year, senior-to-be Truett Knox, and were not only looking for starters but depth on the line as well. Wood feels he has a competitive group that is still fighting for starting spots.
“The first offense got better as the game went on, but we have to execute better,” Wood said. “We have to do everything – block it better, run it better, throw it better and catch it better – there is still a lot of room for improvement. But I thought we got out there and scrapped.
“The humidity and temperature made those eight-to-nine play drives rough, and they had about eight or nine series of that and got a little gassed. But I though there were bright spots on both sides of the ball.
“The offensive line is a work in progress. We blocked them a lot, but one guy missing a block can ruin the play. But overall, I thought we blocked well. We played six guys in there with the No. 1 offense, and over the spring I feel we have developed some depth.”
Bishop’s first drive with the No. 1 unit went nine plays before he was stopped on a keeper on fourth and five. Norwood’s first drive ended in pay dirt. On the second play of the drive Norwood’s pocket collapsed, but he scrambled down the left sideline for a 48-yard gain. Norwood kept the drive alive with a 15-yard completion to receiver Tripp Jones. On third and goal from the two-yard line, Norwood called his own number and darted untouched off right tackle into the end zone.
The next time Bishop had the ball, the sophomore-to-be connected with receiver Money Parks for a 27-yard gain to move the chains, but the Bearcats’ No. 1 defense stiffened and the offense had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Cole Daniels. Later in the game, with Owens at quarterback, Jake Ford, a receiver on the No. 1 unit, kicked a 50-yard field goal to salvage a drive.
Bishop directed a touchdown drive on the No. 1 unit’s final possession. Bishop kept for 12 yards on a nifty hip-twisting keeper to convert a first down on fourth and five. He then went to the air on consecutive plays – the first an 11-yard strike to Parks which put the ball a yard past midfield, and another to Beau Mask for a nine-yard gain. But Bishop faced a fourth and six from the defense’s 29, and again he went with “the Money,” hitting Parks for a nine-yard gain for a first down.
On the next play Owens, now at running back, took a hand off and flew down the right side and into the end zone for a 20-yard score.
“I thought it was a fun game,” Wood said. “The players got to have fun, they competed, and we stayed relatively healthy. We had a couple of twisted ankles, but nobody was hurt bad, and that is what is really important.”
For more see the June 2 issue of The Community News.
Bearcats key dates
June 12-Aug. 3 – Performance Course
Aug. 14 – First day of “two-a-day” practices
Aug. 25 – Scrimmage at Byron Nelson
Sept. 1 – Season opener at home against Colleyville Heritage