Skins, Cats get early looks at 7-on-7 scrimmage

Vongni Yang, The Union Democrat

Sonora Wildcat quarterback Andrew Nessi's football season was cut short last year due to injury.

So now, he's trying to make the most of his opportunities as he heads into his senior year.

Nessi is working his way back onto the gridiron and competing to reclaim the starting quarterback position. But standing in his way is junior standout Billy Kiriluk.

"It's a competition at this point," Nessi said.

The two gunslingers got the chance to show off their arms to Sonora head football coach Bryan Craig in a 7-on-7 passing scrimmage against the Calaveras Redskins.

The Wildcat's final scrimmage of the summer was divided up into four separate sessions, with both teams getting 15 plays each on offense and defense during the series.

Kiriluk and Nessi alternated at the quarterback position. Both led Wildcats scoring drives, tossing two touchdowns each, respectively.

Nessi threw his first touchdown pass of the night when he connected with his receiver in the end zone, and later hit Jack Trent for another score.

"I did decent - kind of rusty," Nessi said of his performance. "I could have done a lot better."

As for Kiriluk, he slotted a perfect 40-yard pass to a streaking Ryan Puou, and like Nessi, also found Trent for six.

After the scrimmage, Craig still hadn't decided on who might be the starting quarterback. He will make that decision as the season inches closer.

"No one has separated themselves," he said of Kiriluk and Nessi. "They both have their flaws and weaknesses. But they both have improved. I see it as a pretty even race right now.

"Reading the run is really a bigger part of this, than our passing game."

Quarterback isn't the only position still up for grabs for the Wildcats. Craig said that virtually every position is open, and it's up to the players to solidify their spots on the roster.

"We still have a lot of competitions at all spots," he said. "Nothing worth mentioning yet. It's too early. Summer is an evaluation process. Nothing's set in stone."

But one player who stood out to Craig was a Wildcat receiver.

"I thought Kade Barajas had a really good game today," he said of the speedy senior. "I thought he made some good catches."

Defensively, the Wildcats allowed four touchdowns during the scrimmage, but intercepted two passes.

"All of our DBs did a pretty good job of being aggressive," Craig said. "That's what we want to see. Right now, we want to see them being physical and reacting, and getting to the ball carriers. I saw a lot that in the ball game today."

As a whole, Craig was impressed with the progress that the skilled position players are making.

"I thought we got better," he said. "Our 7-on-7 up till now has kind of have been up and down. But we definitely got better today."

Up next for the Wildcats are three more practices this week and a three-day camp, July 18-20, to close out the summer.

"Camp is going to tell us a lot about our players," Craig said.

As for Calaveras, they face a similar situation at the quarterback position, but two positions that are penciled in for the Redskins are at left cornerback and receiver, which will be filled by one player, star Mike Seawell.

The fleet-footed Seawell hauled in multiple passes as a receiver during the scrimmage, including a touchdown. As a defensive back, he intercepted two passes.

The Union Democrat
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