A number of newcomers found themselves playing among the first-team lineups for the Bluejays football team during their annual scrimmage against the Lakeland University Muskies on August 26.
With one week remaining before their regular season begins, the scrimmage serves as a dress-rehearsal as starters take the initial reps before many up-and-coming players step in and receive their first live collegiate action.
However, that was not the case for every freshman on the team, as first-year safety Jamari Wise, as well as freshman receivers Hasahn Austin and Derek Jones all saw playing time among the first-team units. Despite their youth, head coach Ron Planz said, “those are guys that I think can make a big impact [this season].”
Wise made his presence felt early on, scooping up a blocked punt and sprinting into the endzone for the first score of the ballgame.
“I’m an aggressive guy” said Wise. “We had somebody make the play on a punt [and] I picked it up and took it. It was an exciting moment … It was so fun.”
The Bluejays first-team offense added on with a field goal before the starters were done for the day, leaving the game with a 10-0 lead.
Planz was satisfied with the way his starters performed on what marked the final day of fall camp.
“I really liked the way both first-units played” said Planz. “I felt really good about our coaching. I felt really good about our guys execution in that first quarter.”
As Planz shuffled younger players into the rotation, Lakeland took advantage. The Muskies connected on a series of downfield passing plays and eventually opened up a lead over the Bluejays second and third-team groups.
“The hardest thing with young players is that it’s a first time experience for them. So everything is new” said Planz. “You’ve gotta be patient with those young guys.”
Wise, the Bluejays young safety, managed to put the day into perspective, saying that it was a day to get better. “We know it isn’t week one” said Wise. “We’re out here to get better. That’s what we’re trying to do. It’s all part of the process.”
With training camp over and the scrimmage in their rearview mirror, the Bluejays head into a game week. The Loras College Duhawks visit Langhorst Field for a non-conference matchup on September 2 at 1 p.m.