(David Jenkins, Staff)
It was the kind of mentality head coach Kent Gibbs was hoping to see on Friday evening at the third annual contact camp.
"That's what we wanted to do was play with emotion," Gibbs said. "I really didn't know how we were going to respond to that, but we did. For the most part, we played pretty good on defense.
"We flew around, we hit people and did what we needed to do."
The Bulldogs defense allowed just a handful of big plays facing Jackson, Cape Central and Dexter in their three, 30-play scrimmages.
Offensively it was a different story.
Trying to replace the skill positions left by Juqualin Wiggins at quarterback, Eli Jackson and Jarian Wims at running back and Niquavious Dixon and Jordan Williams at wide receiver will take time.
Trey Lewis, David Foster and Luke Keefer took turns at the quarterback position, James Watson did his best to fill the running back void while Janeil Hatchett, along with Lewis, held down the wide out positions.
Timing amongst the newly constructed offense and it still being early in June had the Bulldogs' ball movement a bit rusty.
"We're going to be behind a little bit offensively," Gibbs said. "We made a lot of mistakes but, that's what's going to happen right now. We need to be a little sharper in our timing. That comes from the quarterback and the center.
"If we want to be fast, we've got to play fast and we're not playing real fast on offense right now."
Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley had the same observation about the Bearcats offense in their three scrimmages against Cape Central, Caruthersville and Sikeston.
"We're behind offensively compared to defense," Pixley said. "I thought defense played pretty well. We gave up a few big plays, especially against Caruthersville.
"We had one real good scrimmage offensively that included some bad plays too, but it's still June."
Timing on the offensive side of the ball was one of the things Pixley pointed to for the lagging offense.
"Everybody's timing is off and you could see that with the other teams too," said Pixley. "The big thing today was just getting through the humidity and trying to get everybody here.
"I felt like the effort was there."
The Bearcats are also trying to fill holes in the offense left mostly by quarterback Ben Mills. Pixley has narrowed down his search, for the time being, to Cody Stevens as the next Bearcat quarterback; as well as a few other position players.
"We kind of knew coming in who we felt like we wanted in there, right now anyway," Pixley said. "We know who our quarterback is and we feel like he throws a good ball and he's going to be a good quarterback for us."
Pixley and the Bearcats' main objective was an internal one. They weren't concerned about what they saw on the opposite side of the ball, but rather what they were doing on their possessions.
"We don't scheme for any team out here," Pixley said. "We don't talk about what any team out here does, we just want to see our kids come out and read, run and react and get physical.
"Sometimes we were physical and at times we weren't."
The same thing went for the East Prairie Eagles and head coach Jason Aycock. After the Eagles' first game jitters were squashed, Aycock found what he was looking for.
"It took us a little bit to get going," Aycock said. "But, the main thing that we were looking for was how good of a competitor these guys were. We wanted to get after it and play hard-nosed football.
"Your going to make mistakes, but make them going full out."
Aycock saw the value of the contact camp and what it has to offer for his team.
"We was evaluating," Aycock said. "We were running people in and out and we seen a couple of guys that can play that we didn't know for sure could play. But, now we know we can play them.
"That's the good thing about this camp."
Overall, the main consensus among coaches was to use the camp as a tool for evaluation and future preparation. Gibbs intentions, as with the other coaches, are to use what he observed to adjust his roster for Friday nights.
"It's so early in the process and we have so many holes," Gibbs said. "I fully anticipate to make some changes at the end of the weekend with kids in certain positions. We'll wait and evaluate.
"We've got some talent," Gibbs went on to say. "If we hang together, we'll get better and we'll be okay in the end."