The Hamburg first team finished the first half of Thursday’s scrimmage game with a 20-14 lead over the Junction City Dragons at Campbell Field.
“In my five years here, I feel like that’s the best scrimmage we’ve had on both sides,” Coach Cecil Ray Cossey said. “You don’t want to be too happy with a scrimmage because we’ve definitely got a lot to fix.”
The game was back-and-forth as teams traded touchdowns on consecutive drives after each punting on their first possession.
“You can really tell a lot about a group of [players] based on how they respond to that,” Cossey said. “I really liked the energy out of our senior captains.”
Junction City opened the scoring on their second offensive drive on a rushing touchdown by running back Jakiron Cook. Cook finished the half with four carries for 22 yards.
The score came after a fourth down conversion by the Dragons – a problem area for the Lions throughout the game. The Dragons were 0-for-5 on third down conversions but 3-for-3 on fourth down conversions.
“Those guys have a good football team,” Cossey said. “They’re going to make some plays.”
The Lions responded with a touchdown drive of their own. Senior wide receivers Jalen Wilson and Brayden Berry had long rushes on the drive that set up a touchdown run by senior running back Derrick Webb.
The Hamburg secondary looked confused at times, blowing coverage on several plays, including two of the Dragons’ fourth-down conversions.
“One was a miscommunication,” Cossey said. “We thought we had the right call, but the players heard something different.”
He said the two calls sounded too similar and will be changed to new words following the game to avoid future confusion.
The Dragons held a 14-7 lead after the first quarter but failed to score in the second quarter. The Dragons had 6:16 time of possession in the first quarter but possessed the ball nearly half that time in the second.
“We had a couple of miscues in the run game early,” Cossey said. “We talked it over on the sidelines and got stuff cleaned up.”
Cossey was critical of the senior offensive linemen following the intrasquad scrimmage last Monday, but he said they improved their play on Thursday.
“Today was much better,” he said. “Coach [Caleb] Morgan made an adjustment and I’m very happy with their progress.”
Hamburg tied the game on another Webb touchdown run to start the second period.
The Dragons were poised the take the lead back after another fourth down conversion set them up in the red zone, but the Lions forced a fumble and junior defensive lineman Kason Watson recovered.
Following the fumble, Cossey told his team to take advantage of the Dragons’ mistake.
Junction City made another mistake on fourth down when senior quarterback Jonathan Kelley drew a defensive lineman offside with a hard count, granting the Lions a first down.
Kelley connected with Wilson on the next play for a 16-yard touchdown. He finished the game an efficient 8-for-10 passing for 92 yards and a score.
“He’s played well all fall,” Cossey said. “The sky is the limit for Jonathan.”
The second teams took the field for the final period and Junction City finished the quarter ahead 7-0. Turnovers on offense prevented the Lions backups from scoring.
The Lions play their first official game of the season on Friday at Ashdown. Hamburg hosted the Panthers last season and lost 56-10.