Football ready for first scrimmage on Saturday

After 10 practices in preseason camp, the JU football team will hit the field in its first live scrimmage on Saturday at Fletcher High School, with kickoff set for 1 p.m.

The depth chart at several positions hopes to be a little bit clearer after the scrimmage. The Dolphins sport a deep and talented group at wide receiver that has several battles along with a young group that is looking to gain experience at cornerback and defensive line.

”We’ve had a good week of practice leading up to this scrimmage and our guys are fired up to get on the field to play,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “Our guys are working hard and this is going to be a great opportunity for a lot of guys to show us what they have learned in the first week of practice.”

POSITION PREVIEW SPOTLIGHT – OFFENSIVE LINE/TIGHT ENDS: With all the depth returning at the other positions, it would be too good to be true if the Dolphins had a deep and experienced offensive line.

Instead, the Dolphins will be breaking in three new starters around incumbent junior Leonard Payton at left tackle and sophomore center Ian Osking.

“We have a lot of players with skill, that are young and talented,” Bell said. “As an offensive coordinator, I’m encouraged because we’ll have this line for at least two years and six to seven of these guys for three more years.

“Our goal going into camp is to find the five that can play together the best and can lead us to a championship. This group will be the most physical line that we’ve had since I’ve been here, which will help us match up better all year.”

The questions start at left guard as Kevin Halverson and Billy Peach will battle for the job left by graduated senior Chris Tessitore. The right guard position was expected to be manned by Jonas Vasquez, but a knee injury late in the school year ended his season before it had begun. In his place will be a battle between Dustin Robinson and Danny Pou.

Another big loss to graduation was Michael Aguilar, who will be replaced by Chad Cypher or Spencer Hodges.

“We really had some guys come on in the spring,” Bell said. “Leonard showed he was our best lineman, with Halverson emerging as a potential all star. We’ve got a talented center in Ian Osking, who started every game as a freshman.

“We need Dustin to be in shape and healthy when the season starts at right guard. We’re going to have a great battle at right tackle between Spencer and Chad. They are going to make each other better.”

Another area of talent and depth for the Dolphins this season will be at tight end. The Dolphins have two veterans that have gained experience and developed into a duo that complement each other well.

Tim Kraemer enters fall camp as the starter at tight end. Throughout his career, he has developed into a strong blocker and has become more of a threat as a receiver.

Seeing more and more playing time is the No. 2 tight end – Chris Kuck. One of the most talented receivers in the program, Kuck caught five touchdowns last season and became a big-play maker in the offense.

“We are very fortunate to have two guys that can do a lot of things for us,” Bell said. “Tim is a great blocker and has developed into a fine receiver that provides a big target for our quarterbacks. With Chris, you have an athletic guy that can outrun the linebackers that get matched up on him – creating some matchups that are favorable to us.

“The great thing for our offensive coaches is that we feel very comfortable with either one being on the field at any time.”

SCRIMMAGE SCHEDULE SET: The Dolphins will have three scrimmages during preseason camp, the first coming on Aug. 15 at Fletcher High School, the second at The Bolles School on Aug. 22, before the final scrimmage at D.B. Milne Field on Aug. 29.

This Saturday’s scrimmage will be a homecoming of sorts for Elliott Finkley, Ray Scott, Lacy McDougald and Logan Chipperfield – four Dolphins who all played at Fletcher High School.

“We had a tremendous experience getting out in the community for our scrimmages last year and this is a great opportunity to gain exposure for our program,” Bell said.