There are only two weeks until the start of the regular season and the Denison Yellow Jackets were eager to face somebody instead of the teammates they had across from them during the first two weeks of practice.
Argyle has been one of the top 4A programs over the past decade and provided a good initial proving ground for the Yellow Jackets. There were things on both sides of the ball that could have been better. There were things on both sides of the ball that were worthy of accolades.
As the program seeks a return to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus, these first steps can only help.
“I think we’re getting better and we stayed healthy, which is always important,” Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. “I was pleased with the effort. I thought the offensive line was really good. We wanted to see our run game against a run-stopping defense.”
The format for the scrimmage was a live half with drives starting at the offensive team’s 30-yard line following touchdowns.
On offense, senior Zaelin Wimbish and sophomore Caleb Heavner shared snaps at quarterback. Sophomore Jadarian Price, juniors Asa Osbourn and Keebler Wagoner and senior Lowellaus Boman split the carries. Wagoner, Bowman, juniors Keleon Vaughn and Stone Lemming and sophomores Cooper Mackay, Tre Rhodes and Jalik Lewis saw time at receiver. Senior Cayden Earnhart and sophomore Dameon Smallwood split time at H-back. The offensive line was all seniors: Mason Doyle and Christian Smallwood at tackle, Drew Williams and Jose Conejo at guard and Wesley Brooks was the center.
On defense, the line started with sophomores Landry Massenburg and junior Jalyn Childs at the ends and seniors Jordin Hunter and Jessi Mireles as tackles. Sophomore Dakota Buttrill and seniors Caleb Kupferschmid, Dayne Kelley and Austen Patterson also saw time up front.At linebacker, junior Javonte Briscoe and and sophomores William Wallis and De’Teaurean Johnson got the initial nod with Wallis and senior Anthony Melton in there as well. Vaughn and sophomore Keegan Pruitt were the corners with Lewis getting time behind Pruitt while Wagoner and junior Landon Ellis were the safeties. Junior Cam Wheeler also got snaps in the back end.
Argyle, which is ranked third in Dave Campbell’s Class 4A Division I preseason rankings, held on for a 28-21 victory during the two quarters as both sides came up with some big plays to find the end zone.
Both teams went three-and-out on their opening drives. Denison had a first-down run before two incompletions. Argyle had a pair of positive gains (pass and run) before Vaughn had a pass break-up on third down.
The Jackets took their only lead on the next possession as Price stepped through an ankle tackle on the right side for a 64-yard TD run less than four minutes into the first quarter.
Argyle responded with a touchdown drive. The Eagles picked up 31 yards on a first-down pass and capped the five-play series with a 28-yard TD throw.
Denison went three-and-out the next time it had the ball and then the Jackets came up with a stop at the edge of the red zone. Argyle had taken over at midfield and then faced fourth-and-seven at the Denison 21. A hit on a tight end pop pass led to an incompletion and turnover on downs.
Wagoner took off for 49 yards on the first play from scrimmage and the Jackets were looking to regain the lead. The drive stalled there, although a second-down pass would have put Denison inside the 10-yard line but the receiver stepped out of bounds first before the catch.
The Eagles needed just one snap to score with a 72-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 14-7 advantage with 2:05 remaining in the first quarter.
It took a little longer for Denison to get even but on the fourth play of the ensuing drive Osbourn went 51 yards on the left side for the tying TD run.
The deadlock was short lived as a long pass down the right sideline was completed in good coverage but the receiver was able to get away for the 70-yard touchdown in the final 30 seconds of the quarter.
Denison’s next possession ended with a drop on a third-down throw from its own 42. Argyle extended its lead to 28-14 on the next series with a 12-yard run. The Jacket defense gave the offense a chance to rally. The Eagles final three possessions ended, in order, with a diving interception by Ellis at the Argyle 44 to set up a scoring drive, a first-down-and-out with Vaughn notching another break-up, and a first-down-and-out to get the ball back to the offense with 1:21 left.
Three straight runs got the Jackets to their 46 but a sack there ended the scrimmage.
Denison pulled within 28-21 with 6:52 left in the contest. Osbourn had a 37-yard TD run called back due to a hold but the next play was a 14-yard TD keeper from Heavner.
The Jackets will travel to Paris for their final scrimmage on Thursday and then take on rival Sherman in the 121st Battle of the Ax at 7:30 p.m. on August 30 at Bearcat Stadium.
28 carries for 294 yards
Jadarian Price 5 carries for 90 yards, TD
Keebler Wagoner 4 carries for 67 yards
Asa Osbourn 4 carries for 102 yards, TD
Zaelin Wimbish 6 carries for -4 yards
Caleb Heavner 4 carries for 13 yards, TD
Lowellaus Bowman 5 carries for 26 yards
Zaelin Wimbish 0-for-8, 0 yards
Caleb Heavner 1-for-3, 14 yards
Cayden Earnhart 1 catch for 14 yards
17 carries for 164 yards, 2 TDs
12-for-18, 196 yards, 2 TDs, INT