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Comets seek redemption / July 13, 2009
A possible two-man look at quarterback, with hints of a potentially explosive passing game coming this fall.

Improved, more aggressive pass defense.

And a new theme – redemption – for the 2009 season.

It’s only July, and it’s not like Stan Hodgin and the other Halifax County High School varsity football staff members were showing everything.

Nevertheless, the Comets staged an impressive showing last Wednesday du ring another off-season ‘seven on seven’ passing exhibition against Webb. This was only an exhibition, with plenty of official work ahead.

The Comets do not start official fall drills until Aug. 3, with the season opener at Petersburg scheduled for Aug. 28.

The 7-on-7 was an exhibition, and there are no official Comet stats coming out of this off-season activity.

HCHS scored nine times against Webb, and gave up four scores. HCHS threw three interceptions.

Comet head coach Stan Hodgin, now 9-11 overall in two seasons here as the head coach, praised the HCHS players for their effort.

“I thought the effort tonight was tremendous, whether we were on offense or defense. Wideouts did a great job of running routes. They weren’t always correct, but they were run awfully hard. We screwed up a couple of reads in the passing game, but our effort was tremendous.

“Defensively … of all the 7-on-7 situations we’ve been in this spring and this summer, that was the best defensive intensity we’ve had. We made an awful lot of plays in the secondary,” said Hodgin.

While HCHS had three passes picked off, the defensive backs picked off four from Webb.

“We coach an awful lot of guys that can catch the football. So the fact that we got four interceptions … I don’t think is a reflection that we can catch it. I think what it does indicate, though, is we’ve gotten ourselves in much better position defensively than we had in 7-on-7s in the past. They’re certainly some very visible improvement going on with individuals and then with us as a defensive unit,” said Hodgin.

Hodgin, assessing quarterbacks Dale Trent and Lemal Adams, said, “the emphasis with the quarterback tonight, what we were trying to work on with those guys, was being extremely efficient.

“We set the goal of completing 80 percent of our throws. It is a tremendous goal to have, and in most cases, I’d say it’s unreachable. But I thought our efficiency was good. Our completion percentage tonight was somewhere between 67 and 69, which is outstanding. And that’s the level we’re going to look for to be during the season,” said Hodgin.

Adams, in addition to taking snaps at quarterback, will be part of the Comets receiving corps.

The Comets had three passes picked off, although one of the picks came off a deflection off HCHS receiver Dakota Delaware.

Comet assistant Jay Cole explained the 7-on-7 concept.

“It’s just an opportunity for our guys (receivers and running backs) to go up against the defensive backs, linebackers and strong safeties,” said Cole. The Comets got a chance to run their offense, assess the coverage schemes and give the receivers and backs a chance to catch the football.

As for the coaches, “it’s a chance for us to evaluate … is the pace we’re working fitting what our kids are learning?”

Cole said the quarterbacks “threw the ball and read the coverage really well.”

Cole had high praise for Andre Ervin played well at the split end position. Davon Greene, who rotated with Ervin, played well and showed impressive athleticism. Greene had a tremendous spring track season for the Comets. Cole also said Kendall Adams had a good night at the ‘B’ position. Adams “caught a bunch of balls on the out route,” said Cole.

Thomas Owen also looked good, and had a touchdown. And all of the Comet running backs looked good, adjusting to their assignments. That group included Dominque Henderson, Wendell Adams and Devon Walton.

“Markee Brooks looked really good tonight,” added Cole. “He ran a vertical package about as good as we could ask for tonight.”

“Just about every kid got a touch, and multiple kids scored,” said Cole. Cole said depth is an area where HCHS might struggle a bit. But he said the goal heading into the season is to get two-deep at split end and the slot positions.

“A lot of time in years past, what I’ve had to settle for was three to play two at both spots and train one guy to still play at both areas,” said Cole.

Hodgin said the Comets are getting stronger and in better physical condition in off-season work.

HCHS hopes to be much stronger defensively in 2009.

“I think the no. 1 change defensively is not so much in the scheme that we’ re running, but in the attitude of the players that are playing defense. We’ ve had just such great senior leadership so far this off-season, and we will be a very senior laden defensive game.

“It’s a group of guys that are embarrassed about the ‘08 season, and feel like they’ve got something to prove. I think you’re going to see an entirely different level of intensity,” said Hodgin. “I think it’ll carry over into better defensive play.”

Redemption is the theme for ‘90.

“A group of seniors came to me in February or March and said, ‘coach, we always know that you have a theme for the season.

“We’ve been talking about it. We’ve got an idea we want you to consider. Redemption was their idea, and they explained to me why, they felt like that there were some plays, some results from the ‘08 season that were left on the field, we didn’t finish some games, and could have easily finished with a better won-lost record than we did.

“They felt like they … as a senior group, had something to prove, and wanted to adopt the theme of redemption, and so that’s what we’re doing,” said Hodgin.

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