Every year, there is an ongoing debate about preseason games at the pro level.
Some believe the four-game NFL preseason should be cut in half or reduced to a single game. Some believe the games are unnecessary and only are beneficial to guys trying to make the team as back-up or scout team players.
In the pros, preseason games do have a purpose outside of getting young guys playing experience. Despite the risk of injury, the games allow quality reps against an opponent for star players and guys who will have an increased role during the regular season. Even the top players in the game can get rusty.
But four games may be a bit much at the highest level, and college teams don’t have the luxury of preseason, outside of early week games against “cupcake” opponents.
No level needs preseason more than high school, where even the best athletes still can be raw and inexperienced in game situations.
The turnover at the prep level is rampant. There are no scholarships or redshirting of players. Although some transfers do take place, generally, coaches must coach the players they get.
The top athletes on the team regularly are asked to play different positions each year or play on multiple sides of the ball. Plant City’s Landon Galloway, Durant’s John Hendricks and Strawberry Crest’s Alex Carswell all are perfect examples.
Because of this, preseason games are crucial at the prep level, because they provide a training ground for these players as well as an opportunity for younger players to show what they can do with minimal consequences.
Although little can be taken from spring jamborees, fall preseason football games in Florida provide a look at what kind of season might be in store for area programs.
The games still don’t count, so don’t expect coaches to show their entire playbook, but what you see out of teams this Friday will be much more accurate than what fans saw in the spring games.
Durant and Plant City both will face quality teams Friday in Oak Ridge (Orlando) and Jefferson, respectively. After a home game with Gibbs fell through, Strawberry Crest will head to Middleton High for its preseason game.
Plant City will be breaking in Galloway at quarterback under the Raiders new up-tempo offense. Galloway, who has played some quarterback in the past, will play tight end at the next level for the University of Central Florida.
Strawberry Crest’s preseason game will be an important training ground for the new linebacking core. The Chargers lost several playmakers from that unit. Matt Chaney, a standout transfer from Plant City, wasn’t cleared to play in the Chargers spring jamboree against Armwood.
Carswell also will see more time on defense this year. The senior is being actively recruited to play on the defensive side of the ball in college, so the Middleton game will give a preview of what he may have to offer the Chargers this season.
Another player who will see his first live action with a new team is Hendricks, who comes to Durant after racking up more than 1,000 all-purpose yards at Newsome. It will be interesting to see how Hendricks meshes with junior running back Cris Atkins, now that the Cougars are without Jamarlon Hamilton, their go-to guy in the backfield for the past few seasons.
Like Strawberry Crest, Durant will be breaking in a part of its defense, because they return only Gabe Brown in the starting defensive backfield.
Although preseason games in the NFL can leave something to be desired, the preseason match-ups for area prep teams should provide an exciting preview of what’s to come for the next few months this fall.