EAGLE RIVER - A handful of Northwoods football teams could use a scrimmage in Eagle River Friday to gauge their preseason progress.|
"You're not worried about getting hurt or whatever," says Phillips Loggers Co-Head Coach Steve Procour. "It's a nice change of pace."
Scrimmages can help players get a feel for the season ahead. Teams from Northland Pines, Rhinelander, Phillips and Crandon finally could compete against someone else.
"It's really important to get out here and practice against the other teams," says Procour. "We spent two weeks beating up on each other, and we finally got a chance to take it against somebody else."
Coaches say the scrimmage couldn't be more helpful with the start of the regular season only a week away.
"Scrimmage is exactly what it is: it's a way to get better, and understanding what you need to work on," says Northland Pines Head Coach Eric Swanson. "Everything looks good on air or in practice, but playing against some fresh competition, it does give us a good chance to look at that."
More importantly, the scrimmage also helps teams get into their regular season mindset.
"With our practices we had early whistles, so we had a little more of a late whistle so people are getting tackled, getting used to going down to the ground and finishing off plays, both tackling and with our guys who have the ball on offense," says Rhinelander Head Coach Chris Ferge.
None of these teams that participated Friday play in the same conference, but coaches say that's actually a good thing.
"I would say [it's] an advantage," says Ferge. "I don't want to play anybody in my conference until I play them. If got a chance to see someone in a scrimmage, it's like playing them twice."
"For scrimmage, I think it's an advantage," says Procour. "We don't go show what we do. Somebody else has to game plan for what we do and our schemes."
"I think a scrimmage against any team is a good experience," says Swanson. "We get a chance to look at our keys and look at our assignments against two different offenses, quite frankly, and so competition-wise, it really don't matter what competition it is, so long as we play right."
Rhinelander, Northland Pines, and Crandon all open their seasons Friday, August 22nd, while Phillips kicks off their season Thursday, August 21st.