Knights, Dragons show progress during joint practices

Eisenhower’s Dillon Benson is “tackled” by Warren’s Gage Shaffer during a joint practice session at Beaty Field, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Both teams were able to track progress from their first combined practice to this one and get a feel for where they stand as fall camp approaches.

Last summer’s combined practice between Eisenhower and Warren football was so beneficial, it left Dragons head coach Mark Morelli wanting more.

“We want to do it twice next year,” he said at the time.

Fast forward a year and Morelli got his wish. The Knights and Dragons wrapped up their second joint practice session Tuesday at Beaty Field. The teams got together for the first practice July 11 at Eisenhower.

The nearly two weeks between practices allowed for a lot of growth.

“We made some mistakes and we could see the mistakes we made and clean them up,” Eisenohwer coach Jim Penley said. “I love having two of the practices. We can see if there’s any improvement.”

Warren quarterback Micah Passmore throws a pass during a joint practice with Eisenhower at Beaty Field, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The teams held a pair of combined practice sessions this summer allowing both to get reps and film against live competition before they head to fall camp next month.

Working with other teams in the offseason isn’t unprecedented. In fact, Eisenhower has worked with Corry and Fort LeBoeuf in the past. What makes this pairing unique is the proximity they share without facing each other.

“It’s nice to be able to go down the road and work with a team,” Penley said. “We’re not giving anything away because we don’t play each other and we can each get looks at multiple sets.”

The Knights have had more than 30 players regularly attending summer workouts, and another benefit to combined practices is that it gives coaches a chance to get new players extra reps prior to fall camp.

“We get a chance to see more players and see who knows the playbook,” Penley said. “In theory, we got 130 offensive plays (between the two sessions). That allows us to use guys without burning practice reps.”

With each play filmed, both teams are able to go back and see potential problem areas now and get them addressed. They can also spend a little more time looking at individual players to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses against live competition.

“We have the ability to look at how a play should work,” Penley said. “We can watch the film and look at an individual and see if there’s any improvement.”

In addition to the schematic and player developments, holding a joint practice can have other benefits as well.

“Their guys are trying to do their stuff and you can see which guys are going to compete,” Penley said. “You find out who the competitors are and it gets the competitive juices going. These are awesome.”