The rain and snow held off just long enough for the Hastings College football team to conclude its spring season Saturday with the Bronco Roundup at Lloyd Wilson Field.
The White team beat the Crimson 20-0, scoring three touchdowns on the day.
Rather than splitting the teams up by No. 1 offense and defense, the coaching staff tried to even out the talent on both the Crimson and White teams to make for a more competitive game.
“We did something that we had never done here, at least in my time. It was great idea from the coaches, but we split the teams up. It wasn’t just defense and offense, we split them up evenly,” said Hastings College head coach Tony Harper. “We wanted them to compete a little bit and see how they reacted when someone else was playing beside them. I told the guys after the scrimmage, ‘This was one of the best scrimmages we’ve had here in a while.’ They competed, they played four full quarters. I was very proud of what they did today.”
Running back Ramiro Flores got the scoring started with a 35-yard run. As the first half was winding down, quarterback Matt Overmiller led the White team 80 yards for the score, capping the drive with a 6-yard quarterback draw. The drive was highlighted by a 42-yard catch by Trevor Bohn. The extra point was blocked, keeping the score at 13-0.
Redshirt freshman Ray Bars had the final touchdown on a 9-yard run, breaking arm tackles along the way.
“(The White team has) been playing well together, and they just have a lot of experience with that crew,” Harper said. “They were able to move the ball and do some different things. We saw the Crimson at times offensively be able to move it. We just didn’t have as much consistency Crimson-wise as we did with the White team.”
Overmiller said both squads had some struggles early in the game, but got more comfortable as the competition progressed.
“It was just good to get out here and enjoy the weather, really. We had a beautiful day with a lot of friends and family out here to watch and see what we’ve been working on this spring,” he said. “We settled into a groove and got things rolling. Early, we made a few mistakes, but we kind of said you just fight back and forget about it.”
Though his Crimson team lost the scrimmage, Alex Gildon was glad just to be competing again.
“It’s always good to be back on the field. It’s great to be out here with these guys, and it’s good to see the recruits coming out, getting a feel for the game and how we do things,” he said. “It was a little one-sided, but we got after it and competed. We’ve been working hard all spring and it showed. They got after us a little bit, but we’ll tighten things up and get it going.”
One of the most notable aspects of the day was the heavy use and the versatility of the running backs. The Broncos lined up in two-back formations and used the running backs in the passing game throughout the scrimmage.
“Those three young men, Jake Fowler who is returning and going to be a sophomore, Ramiro Flores is going to be a sophomore, and then you throw in Ray Bars, who is a redshirt freshman, those three backs, we feel like, can be competitive as anybody in this league as long as we stay healthy,” Harper said. “They’re each a little bit different. Jake is well-rounded and can catch the ball and do different things, Ramiro is a good slasher, Ray is a good, physical back — you saw that on his touchdown run (Saturday). They complement each other very well. And Caleb Kuhfahl, the fullback, we limited him a little today, but you could throw him into that mix, as well.”
Darvonte Knight also caught several passes out of the backfield and proved to be a effective part of the Crimson team.
The Broncos expect the offense, which was mostly young and inexperienced last season, to be improved this year.
“Offensively, it’s nice to have all those guys who had experience last year being healthy. Coach (Joe) Holtzclaw has done a few minor tweaks to get a couple of those backs on the field at the same time,” Harper said. “We also ran the quarterback a little bit, so they did some tweaks there. Those guys were able to move the ball a little bit. You saw with Matt there running the football and Jason Gaines running the football. And it’s nice to have Trevor back. He had a couple big plays as did Austin Curlee. For those guys, it was all about getting on the same page a little more.”
As for the defense, Saturday was an opportunity to get everybody on the same page with defensive coordinator Adam Long who completed his first season in the fall.
“It shows that they’re getting comfortable with coach Long’s scheme. He’s now been here for a full season. This was his first full spring, and the guys are understanding his checks and his calls,” Harper said. “The defense has vastly improved. They’re flying around, our numbers aren’t where they need to be, but they played extremely hard today.”
One area that the Broncos will need to address is special teams. Both teams combined for two missed field goals, a blocked point after touchdown and a 20-yard punt.
“Special teams-wise, we need to clean some things up, which we somewhat accomplished,” Harper said. “We have a lot of work to do in that phase, to be honest with you. We just need more reps and more drills. That’s going to be a work in progress.”