After not having a pre-season scrimmage like most private school teams, the Winona Christian Stars were ready to hit another opponent last week.
The Stars traveled to Ethel to take on the Tigers in a jamboree setting before this week’s regular-season opener with French Camp.
The Stars started out with a bang as Thomas Costilow took the opening carry 70 yards for a touchdown. In all, the Stars scored three touchdowns with their first-string offense.
“I thought it went well,” Coach Junior Graham said. “We scored on the first plays as Thomas hit a big run. We scored three touchdowns with our first group and didn’t give up a score with them. Their only score was against our second group. I thought we ran the ball well and threw it well. We were 5-for-7 for 112 yards so I was pleased with that.”
Graham said Costilow also scored on an 8-yard run in limited action.
“Our goal was to run him a little more but after he made the 70-yard run to start it out, we changed direction a little bit so he only ran it three times,” Graham said. “He is a big, tall guy and if he will learn to drop his pad level a little bit, he could be a really physical runner. There’s no doubt he has good speed.”
Graham said he was excited about the way his secondary played.
“I thought the secondary played really well,” Graham said. “Dalton Wiggins came up well and showed a lot more maturity out there than he did last year. I thought he did a good job of coming up against the run. I thought our kids did a better job of running cover 3 than we did last year. We played six people in those secondary positions and they all did adequate jobs.”
Graham said there is always room for improvement.
“In our scheme, we have a lot of combo blocks on offense and we may have stayed on some double teams too long,” Graham said. “We played a lot of kids at different positions to evaluate them. We threw some kids in there to see who would react and some did a good job. I thought we executed on both sides of the football and got out of there healthy.”
The last score by the first team was a 40-yard pass from John White to Choyce Diffey.
The Stars will hit the road to take on the French Camp Academy Panthers Friday night.
Unlike most teams, French Camp does not play a jamboree or pre-season scrimmage, leaving Graham and his staff clueless about what the Panthers will run on offense.
“It’s a typical French Camp game for us, we are going in blind,” Graham said. “We haven’t got a clue to what they are going to do on offense. I know they will have an athlete at quarterback but as far as what type of scheme, I have no idea. I would think the quarterback would be heavily incorporated. You just don’t know what they are going to have from year to year. I do know they are going to play hard and run the football. Coach (Nathan) Wright does a good job with them year in and year out. They have a lot of pride.
Last year, French Camp beat Winona 45-18 and finished 7-5 on the year. The Panthers ran for 225 yards and threw for 242 yards for 467 yards of total offense.
“Last year, I didn’t think we as a coaching staff did a good job of preparing our team,” Graham said. “We are going to look at almost everything they could do. It’s tough going in when you have no idea what they are going to do. They just really caught us off guard last year with the two-tight set. We just hope we can do a better job of preparing our kids this year. We think they will have talented skill people so we have to do a good job of blocking and tackling than we did last year.”