By Brad Mosher
It was a shorter jamboree than Neah-Kah-Nie football coach Chris Bennett had planned Friday in Warrenton.
Two other teams cancelled, but the Pirates still got a chance to get their first taste of fall football and set the stage for their season opener with Reedsport Aug. 31 in Rockaway Beach.
“Thirty-six plays is the total of what we did. It was 18 offense and 18 defense,” the coach said afterward on the Warrenton field.
“We had a pre-assigned playsheet. So we were not calling a game-style progression. We really wanted to see what the offense would look like and like how the other teams would adjust to them,” Bennett said.
The coach came away impressed. “Some of it went really good for us.
“In a regular game, we would have never run those plays because we were really moving the ball. We were really pounding the ball on the ground. Our ground game was very, very good. That was really good to see,” he said.
One of the top returnees had a big unveiling, even in a limited roll. Tristan Bennett, the coach’s son, “had a really good game,” the elder Bennett said.
But the returning all-leaguer on offense and defense was not alone.
Mychal Kelly was handling the signal-calling for the Pirates, making the move from running back to quarterback after the team lost its returning quarterback to a knee injury during the early summer.
“Mychal had a really good time. He had a 30-yard carry on a quarterback keeper that was a designed play. Josh Elinsky ran the ball well. He had a couple of good passes and he had a couple of picks. Those were pass plays that we would not normally call.
“So, it was very good. I feel really good about our offensive line blocking … they did great. Offensively, we were really solid,” the coach added.
“While they are a little bit undersized against Warrenton, but they have working really hard,” the coach added.
“The whole line up front is very very solid. They were playing both ways. None of our guys (on the line) came off the field tonight (Friday). We had 15 eligible and two of them were freshmen.”
The defense allowed one big play, but that was about all they gave up, the coach said. “other than that (the big play), our defense was spot on tonight (Friday). It was really encouraging to see,” the coach said, noting the fact they also had some young players on the field.
“It was a good test for us tonight (even though we only had 36 plays). We will be able to go next week (Friday) against Reedsport at least having some live game speed (experience). That is really good for us.”
The team will open the season against two strong foes in Reedsport and Amity, coach Bennett added.
“Amity is going to be really tough. We had a hard time getting a week two game scheduled and Amity had an opening. It will be a good test for us to see,” the coach added.
The Pirates went to Warrenton with a ‘skeleton crew’ but Bennett said that he sees several players finishing up the required practice time to be eligible for the Reedsport game. “Some of them were away on vacation. About three or four started will be eligible for the game which would be good.
“Even more will be eligible by the Amity game,” the coach added, noting it will be the team’s first road game of the season.