Dragons, Wolverines, Knights hit the field for scrimmages

Ethan Benedict breaks a tackle as he runs down the sideline for the Warren Dragons against Punxsutawney during Saturday’s tri-scrimmage that also included the Sheffield Wolverines. The three teams battled for 2 1/2 hours, running through a variety of situations ahead of this Friday’s season-openers.

It’s so close now you can feel it.

High School football officially kicks off this Friday, and on Saturday, teams across Pennsylvania, including Warren, Sheffield, and Eisenhower took to the field in scrimmage action.

While it may not have been an indicator of everything you’ll see when the games count, it was a good indicator of where teams are at, who is standing out in position battles and what the strengths and weaknesses of each team could be.

The Dragons hosted Sheffield, as well as Punxsutawney at War Memorial Field, while Eisenhower traveled to Corry with General McLane and Harbor Creek also in attendance.

Both the Knights and Wolverines chose to ‘play up’ if you will, getting in live reps against bigger schools.

Sheffield quarterback Aujamier Slappy gets set to throw during Saturday’s tri-scrimmage. Slappy accounted for a rushing touchdown against Punxsutawney for the Wolverines at War Memorial Field.

Here are some notes about each team from Saturday’s performances, with full team previews to come later this week on each team before Friday.

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Businesslike Dragons

Warren looked well-prepared on both sides of the ball. The varsity defense, in particular, stood out, as they didn’t yield a single score during the 2 1/2 hours of work against the Chucks and Wolverines.

In fact, they even scored on defense, with senior Ryan Arnold taking the ball to the house on a Pick 6. On a team that once again won’t lack for playmakers, Arnold was among several Dragons that stood out on both sides of the ball, as he also scored on a long touchdown run. He will be a big problem for opponents this season.

Eisenhower’s Riley West looks for running room against General McLane on Saturday. The Knights and Lancers, as well as Corry and Harbor Creek scrimmaged on Saturday at Corry.

Both the offensive and defensive lines looked sharp. They are a bit undersized but extremely athletic. Tony Batiste had as good an offseason as anyone on the roster, and he and fellow senior Jake Hayes, as well as junior Brent Young, will anchor this team up front on offense.

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Wolverines show firepower

It’s no secret that the last couple of years have been tough for this program, but there is reason for optimism.

The Wolverines were stout on the defensive front on Saturday, especially against Punxsutawney. Although they gave up a few big plays in the passing game, the run defense did a very good job against the Class 3A Chucks and looks as if it may be an area of strength going into the season-opener at Smethport on Friday.

Offensively, the Wolverines are making the transition to an ‘Air Raid’ offense. Aujamier Slappy, who comes via the Abraxas co-op, certainly looks the part. He has a long, athletic build, and showed his ability not only through the air but with his legs as well.

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Knights on track

Per coach Jim Penley, the Knights had a very productive outing on Saturday.

Defensively, they did give up three long

touchdown runs to McLane (considered by most to be the favorite in District 10 5A this season), but were overall stout, limiting the Lancers and Harbor Creek to 2.7 yards when you take out the touchdown runs.

Offensively, there is also plenty of reason for excitement. Junior Owen Trumbull, who enters Year 2 as the starter at quarterback, completed 8-of-9 passes for 77 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions.

Dillon Benson hauled in four of those passes for 54 yards and a score, while Cael Black had 54 yards on the ground and Riley West 34.