Haven vs Garnet Valley Scrimmage 2020

Photo by Brian Carroll – Havenfootball.net, Inc.

By Brian Carroll, Havenfootball.net

Welcome to the 2020 season, everyone!  The long-awaited return of Strath Haven football arrived in the form of a joint practice/scrimmage with defending Central League champion Garnet Valley on Saturday morning.  The Panthers and Jaguars were blessed with perfect football weather, and a chance to have a limited number of fans attend to cheer on their efforts.

Photo by Brian Carroll – Havenfootball.net, Inc.

In a joint practice/scrimmage, no score is kept and the event was broken into 10 minute “sessions” that gave each time to run several consecutive plays—some in contrived situations, and some “live”.  7 vs 7 passing drills, kickoff and punt return sessions for each team, extra point practice, and offensive and defensive line drills involving blitz pickup were followed by two, 10-play offensive series for each team.  Observations included:

                • Both teams are well-coached and had a high-energy approach!  The long wait to start the season has these kids chomping at the bit to play some football against someone other than their teammates.
                • The Panthers’ skill-position players on offense are fast, talented, and deep!  It’s almost a shame that there can be one player at a time carrying/catching the ball, but we have seen in seasons’ past that the backfield by committee approach (e.g. 2010 Central League and District 1 Champions) can keep defenses on their heels.  Here’s hoping that can translate into similar success this year!
              • With several varsity newcomers on the offensive line, the Panthers will be tested to get up to game speed quickly.  That being said, a successful JV season a year ago has expectations high, and the offensive line held up very well in pass protection during the drills on Saturday.  Once they get the run blocking going, this group could pave the way for the backs and receivers to make explosive plays all over the field.
              • In the world of special teams, the Panthers will have some question marks in replacing 4-year starter and all-time Haven kick scorer Emmett Young, but a few underclassmen showed well on Saturday.  Extra point efforts were good from two different kickers, kickoff depth was also solid, and punting had good distance and hang time. 

          As for the kick and punt return game, the Panthers have multiple explosive options in terms of straight ahead speed and make-you-miss agility.  If the blocking scheme does its part, the Panthers will have chances to “tilt the field” position at least, and score in the return game at best.

              • Defensively, the Panthers will have a good mix of experience (i.e. returning starters) and youth, with several underclassmen expected to see significant time on the field.  The secondary looks fast and skilled, and the linebackers flowed to the ball quickly.  And while scrimmage rules limited contact on the quarterbacks for safety reasons, the Panthers’ pass rush looked strong, particularly from the defensive ends. 

          Photo by Brian Carroll – Havenfootball.net, Inc.

          By the end of the morning, everyone can look at a practice/scrimmage like this and find reasons to worry and find much to improve.  But considering the circumstances of the last several months limiting practice time and opportunities, the Panthers did an excellent job for their first time on the field against a strong opponent.  With another opportunity coming this Friday against Haverford, improvements should continue, and excitement should build as the season opener at Radnor approaches!  And above all, we’re thrilled that the Panthers are on the field and thankful that everyone’s continued efforts to promote and maintain a safe and healthy playing opportunity have given the kids a chance to play.  More to come on what should be a fun 2020 season…