IUP FOOTBALL: Hawks close spring drills with third scrimmage
His players might be happy that spring drills are over, but IUP football coach Curt Cignetti could use a few more Aprils before he feels comfortable.
The Crimson Hawks capped their annual set of spring practices Friday night with their third intrasquad scrimmage of the month. The 92-play scrimmage lasted a little more than an hour at Miller Stadium, and it was used as a showcase to display the improvements the team has made this month.
There were plenty of highlights that Cignetti was pleased to see, but he couldn’t help but wish things weren’t over just yet. As it stands, the team won’t reconvene until August, when preseason camp opens.
“I really think the kids have given tremendous effort for 12 practices now,” Cignetti summarized. “Last season, we only got in eight practices and we didn’t really get in a scrimmage. This year, we got in 12 practices and three scrimmages, and the kids have tried hard. I give them credit: They’ve developed good team unity and a good work ethic. This team has been together and we’ve gotten better every practice. It isn’t perfect yet; we still have a lot of work to do. There were a lot of mistakes. There’s a lot we can clean up.”
That said, this scrimmage was much cleaner than the one a week ago, when the team committed too many penalties and turnovers for Cignetti’s liking. This time, there were a few mental errors that had the coaching staff shaking its collective heads, but there were also some stellar plays to balance them out.
Chief among them was the play of the quarterbacks. Sophomore Logan Weaver, the Indiana High graduate who has worked with the first-team offense, unofficially completed 16 of 21 attempts for 221 yards and a touchdown, which was a perfect 50-yard strike to Drew Carswell on a play-action pass.
Weaver was accurate in his throws, but he faced steady pressure throughout the scrimmage from the first-team defense. He was sacked three times, by Jordan Batts, Alexander Berdahl and Jeff Palmer.
Freshman Eddie Stockett, working with the second-team offense, also showed improvement, with 13 completions in 26 attempts for 129 yards and a touchdown, a 4-yarder to Salath Williams. Stockett also showed his athleticism by scrambling for 36 yards on six runs.
“Logan is more consistent right now than Eddie is,” Cignetti said. “He probably understands the offense better and probably functions a little bit more consistently than Eddie. Eddie might be a little bit more capable of the big play, but Eddie, right now will make two good plays and a mistake or three good plays and two mistakes. But he’s getting better and he’s going to be a really good player.”
Weaver and Stockett combined for 29 completions to 13 receivers, led by Carswell, who caught five passes for 97 yards and the long touchdown. Trey Campman added four catches for 32 yards, walk-on receiver Manny Mendez had three catches for 24 yards, and sophomore tight end Kevin Edwards hauled in three catches for 41 yards.
As for the running game, tailbacks Izzy Green and Darrian Bradley shouldered the load, with Green gaining 36 yards on 12 carries and Bradley totaling 16 yards on nine carries. But the backs were running behind a rebuilt offensive line that has been limited in spring ball because of injuries — so much so that the only two healthy guards on the roster, Ethan Cooper and Dan Charmo, had to play every snap for both teams, 92 in all.
On defense, the Crimson Hawks forced only one turnover, and it came on the final play of the scrimmage, when Jay Watkins scooped up a fumble after a catch by Green. Otherwise, the defense had a solid effort against the first-team offense.
All in all, Cignetti was pleased with what he saw on the field. He just wished there was more to come.
“I really like the attitude the guys have come out with every day,” he said. “They come out and go about their business and do their work. It’s not always perfect, and there are always correctable things. But this team has a real work ethic. … (But) we’ve got to become more consistent. We have to raise the bar and play at a high level and we have to do it with consistency. But I’m really pleased with the spring. I really am.”
NOTES: Kicker Brett Ullman was 2-for-2 on extra points and 2-for-4 on field goals. He made kicks of 35 and 32 yards and missed from 38 (blocked) and 46 yards (wide left). … Offensive lineman Tony Morgante and defensive end Jordan Diven did not play because of injuries, and wide receiver Sean McVay missed the scrimmage due to an illness. … Punter Matt Spegal averaged 33.3 yards on three kicks.