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Knights spar during intra-squad scrimmage

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By Jesse Osbourne

After three weeks of cumbersome drills, the Knights appeared thrilled to give each other a beat down Thursday night at John J. Boswell Stadium.

The Marion County High School football team held its annual Maroon - White intra-squad scrimmage on Thursday and team members showed plenty of gusto for pounding each other on the gridiron.

"All and all we were very, very pleased," Knights Head Coach Jeff Robbins said. "Their physicality was great. They got after it. That was very pleasing to us."

The White squad, led by Ryan Peterson at quarterback, prevailed over the Maroon squad 20-14. Jordan Bell led the Maroon squad at quarterback.

Some familiar faces stood out, giving spectators a glimpse into next year's squad.

"I thought Buster (Hazelwood) looked real good. He had seven carries for 125," Robbins said. "He's one of those kids that his production will be there. If you give him a foot he'll take a mile. He has an uncanny ability to find a crease and make something happen."

Hazelwood represents the new look Knights, who will rely on speed more heavily than in the past.

"Next year we'll have to do it in a different way than we have," Robbins said. "Obviously we won't be able to line up in the wishbone every time and run over people like we had been. We'll have to take advantage of our speed. That's what a good coaching staff does. You tailor what you do with you what you've got."

Others that stood out during the scrimmage include junior Clayton Smith, who carried the ball on several occasions. He broke free for 20-yard carries at times and looks to be an option behind sophomore Jeremy Mattingly next season. He'll also be key defensively at middle linebacker.

Freshman Vincent Collins looks to fill the tight end position left vacant by senior Timmy Dawson. Robbins said Collins has phenomenal hands but needs to be more aggressive on blocking. He compared Collins to a hybrid tight end, similar to what Jacob Tamme did at the University of Kentucky.

Robbins and the Knights need to fill in the gaps at offensive line next year and the coach feels confident doing that.

"As a group they all played very well. There's up to 10 of those guys that could line up in the fall," Robbins said. "In spring practice we had 17 offensive lineman not counting tight ends."

The coach was also excited about the incoming freshman class. Eighth graders have been lifting with the team all through the winter and appear to be a talented bunch.

The Knights have already scheduled a murderer's row of opponents to start the season.

They open up with John Hardin in week one. The Bulldogs were 5A powerhouse last season, winning 14 straight before losing to Highlands in the state championship. They lose over 20 seniors to graduation.

In week two the Knights take on the new high school in Shelby County, Martha Layne Collins (MLC). Robbins has been hearing that MLC will be loaded because several Shelby County players are following a senior quarterback there.

In week three the Knights face Shelby County, who finished last year 9-3 and lost to Trinity in the playoffs.

The Knights lose the winningest class of seniors in school history to graduation but look to reload and refocus next season behind the speed of Buster Hazelwood and many others.