By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
After Thursday night’s scrimmage at D. Bruce Selby Stadium against Yukon, the Enid Plainsmen coaching staff should have no problem identifying one particular critical area of concern before the season opener next week at Choctaw.
The Plainsmen committed four turnovers during the two-quarter, running-clock scrimmage, including a pair of turnovers deep in the Millers territory in the first quarter, while two more turnovers in the second quarter led directly to a pair of Yukon touchdowns as Enid came up on the short end, 14-0.
As if the turnovers weren’t costly enough, senior wide receiver/defensive back/punt returner Aaron Beagle went down with an injury, hurting his left knee after making a 36-yard reception.
The Plainsmen looked good at the start, as junior tailback Raheem Mitchell scampered 66 yards off tackle on Enid’s first play from scrimmage before being corralled at the 14-yard line. However, just three plays later senior tailback Raeshaan Finley fumbled the ball and Yukon recovered at the 2-yard line. It was the first of two fumbles on the night by Finley on two carries.
“Raeshaan has had some trouble with that, but we’re not giving up on Raeshaan, he’s one of our favorite kids,” said Enid head coach Steve Chard. “Nobody feels worse than him.”
The opening drive also featured a nice reception and some evasive moves by Beagle before he was tackled and grabbed his knee.
“I just got rolled up,” he said. “Fred (junior quarterback Lawrence) delivered a pretty good ball.”
Beagle, who was on crutches afterward and had an ice pack on his knee, said he didn’t think it was serious.
“I’ll be back and ready to go,” he said.
The Plainsmen defense stiffened, and shut down Yukon in the first quarter, forcing three punts.
Enid had another opportunity in the first quarter to score, but turned the ball over again, this time at the Yukon 13-yard line after Alex Lofton took a pass from Lawrence, but he coughed up the ball after a solid hit.
“We tromped up and down the field there (in the first quarter) and didn’t stick it in,” Chard said. “Those things are going to happen.”
Two more turnovers in the second quarter proved costly, as Finley’s second fumble and an interception of a pass from Lawrence set Yukon up for its only two scores.
“It’s too bad we did that (turn the ball over),” Chard said. “The thing is, don’t worry about making a move. That’s all good until you put it on the ground.”
“We stopped them pretty well in the first quarter,” said senior safety Marshawn Mills. “I think we just lost focus in the end. But the scoreboard doesn’t mean anything to us. We played hard.”
Lawrence looked good in the early going and finished 5-for-10 with one interception and 76 yards passing.
Despite the turnovers, Chard maintained an upbeat tone after the scrimmage.
“It puts a sour taste in your mouth, but it doesn’t impede the progress we have made,” he said. “We’re so much further ahead of last year. We didn’t have any personnel busts and we ran all the stuff we wanted to run. We only had one little bust.”
Chard though also said the team will need to work on its run defense, something that revealed itself in the second quarter of the scrimmage.
“We’re not big,” he said. “We’re going to really have to get after the middle to defend the run. We’re going to keep getting creative.
“I am not dissatisfied in any way. We’re not taking any days off and we’re getting ready for Choctaw. We have eight full days to get ready.”
Mitchell finished with 72 yards rushing as Enid gained 90 yards total on the ground on nine carries. Sophomore Devin Pratt had five yards and Lawrence scramble for 11.
Beagle led all receivers with 36 yards on his only catch. Lofton had 15 yards on two receptions.
The Plainsmen open the season Sept. 6 at Choctaw, a team they beat 41-12 to open the season last year.
“We’re not going to sweat this too much,” Chard said. “They want to play them and they’ll be ready (for Choctaw).”