The Sonora Wildcats football team may have thrown more passesWednesdayin a seven-on-seven scrimmage against the Summerville Bears than it probably will during the 2014 season.
Sonora, who deploys a run-first, triple-option offense, let it flyon Wednesdayat Dunlavy Field.
Each team was given 12 plays per rotation, and had three tries to convert a first down 15-yards downfield on a shortened 40-yard gridiron. After three plays, if a team failed to gain a fresh set of downs, it had to start over at the 40.
Sonora quarterbacks Sammy Page, Zach Atwood and Serge Kiriluk combined for 300 yards passing and three touchdowns on 27 of 59 attempts to help the Wildcats tie the Bears by an unofficial score of 18-18.
Page tossed two TD passes and Atwood added another. Atwood, who started for the Wildcats at quarterback to end the 2013 season, also hauled in a TD reception while lining up at receiver.
"A lot of what we're working on is going to fit into the triple-option," said Wildcats head coach Bryan Craig. "A lot of it, if you notice, comes from play-action. I think the fact that we are going to throw the ball a little more this year, I think we'll be fine with it fitting right into our triple-option."
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard early when Page fired a 10-yard touchdown during the team's first of five drives.
Summerville, who runs a primarily balanced offense during the fall, answered back on its third drive when Bear starting quarterback Bryce Farrell hurled a 25-yard scoring strike.
On Sonora's ensuing drive, the Wildcats duo of Kiriluk and Page completed five of 12 passes, capped by a 40-yard catch and run by Atwood to extend the team's lead to 12-6.
"If you can throw the ball a little bit, you're going to get some guys to back up a little bit and it's going to stretch a defense," Craig said. "It's going to allow us to run the ball better. It's very important that we do hit a few good passes to open up everything."
Sonora stretched its lead when Atwood connected on a fade route that made the score 18-6.
The Wildcats completed five or more passes in all of their five sessions and had nine first downs, but were let down by dropped passes.
"We had 13 drops today," Craig said. "We have to eliminate that."
On Summerville's final 12 plays, Farrell completed back-to-back passes to open the drive before hitting receiver Jake Fulkerson on a 24-yard TD pass in the seam.
Farrell rifled a deep pass to Humphrey Quirie two plays later down the left sideline for a 37-yard gain and found Fulkerson in the end zone to knot the score at 18.
But for Summerville head coach Ben Watson, the team's offensive overall performance wasn't enough at this stage. The Bears, whom may be the only team in the Mother Lode League that passes more often than it runs, gained only one first down during its first of four 12-play drives before being able to churn out three in their final series.
The Summerville trio of Farrell, Fulkerson and Travis Rodgers finished with 281 aerial yards on 22 of 52 passing.
"Not very good," Watson said. "A lot of dropped passes. The route combinations weren't there. We had too many guys that are coming sporadically during the summer. They're not there every day. They have to be there everyday, especially the receivers because we've got adjustment routes we have to do. We're not getting consistency. We're getting a core group, but when we go to different guys to set up in there, they don't know the routes, so we have to work on that. Hopefully, we get that cleaned up before the year starts for sure."
Defensively, the Bears secondary broke up a few passes and only gave up four plays of 20 yards or more. JT McCready recorded Summerville's lone interception.
For Sonora, the Wildcats sticky coverage led to four sacks. The defense allowed only five plays of 20 yards or more, and three of those came on Summerville's last rotation. Defensive back Bryce Sanguinetti picked off the Wildcats only pass.
"Today, I thought our defense did an outstanding job," Craig said after the scrimmage. "I thought we picked up our assignments well. We were physical to the ball. We pushed to the ball. Those are the things we're looking for in the summer time. … I'm anxious for the season to start now. Every time we get a seven-on-seven or camp, I'm just ready to go."