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La Salle-Peru junior Kobey Fusinetti runs the ball Friday during the “Meet the Cavs” scrimamge at Howard Fellows Stadium. The Cavaliers open their first season under coach James Bragg on Friday at Lincoln-Way North. NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
First-year La Salle-Peru football coach James Bragg was pleased with the way his team reacted to its first game-like situation in his systems Friday during the “Meet the Cavs” scrimmage at Howard Fellows Stadium.
“Our tempo was excellent and our communication was very key tonight,” Bragg said. “Those are things we were worried about seeing how we would act down in the bowl and with the band and the fans, but every play we called in and signaled in, it was communicated across key.
“There were no hesitations by the players. They were lined up in the right spots. One time we didn’t get lined up right, but (junior quarterback Jake) Doyle got them over and ready to go.”
However, Bragg also felt there is room for improvement before the Cavaliers’ season opener Friday at Lincoln-Way North.
“It’s just tweaking stuff,” Bragg said. “We get a little tired and kind of forget where we are going. There’s technique things we’re still improving on defense - keep wrapping up, head up.
“A team gets a little tired and you have to revert back to things you know you can do in your sleep, and we’re still learning those things we have to do in our sleep. We’re going to get better. We still have seven days before our first game. We’ll see what happens.”
STANDING OUT Senior linebacker Austin Freeman and junior fullback Trestyn Lazzarotto impressed Bragg.
“Austin Freeman looked great at linebacker and Trestyn Lazzarotto really looked good at fullback for us, and those are two key positions for us this year,” Bragg said. “We were hoping somebody would take those positions over and it seems like those two guys are going to fit in just great.”
Bragg was pleased with Lazzarotto’s physical and mental execution.
“His pad level was low, he showed great hands out of the backfield and knew all of his assignments,” Bragg said. “Nothing was blown for him tonight just watching from the sidelines. Now film may show something different, but his knowledge has grown in the last month.”
Bragg said Freeman did a nice job getting to the right spots from his outside linebacker position.
“He was sticking his nose up in there, head up,” Bragg said. “He did a great job on his blitzes. He was under control and that’s what we want. We don’t want guys running through there with their head down just running up the field. He did a great job of choking it down in the hole and making tackles. That’s what we need.”
AIRING IT OUT While Bragg prefers to run the ball — and L-P will run it more often than not out of the Power I offense he installed — the Cavs showed the ability to throw Friday. Doyle hooked up with Lazzarotto and Cam Mignone for touchdown passes off play action.
“One thing we joked about is our defensive coordinator knows exactly what we’re going to run because we’ve been going at each other for two months now,” Bragg said. “So the first couple plays I said, ‘OK, we’re going to run these but we’re going to do this because he thinks we’re going here,’ and we threw a play-action touchdown a couple times.
“You have to be able to throw the ball and you have to be able to run the ball. I think right now we want to stop the run and that’s what we’ve been practicing. Our guys did that tonight with us, then we’d throw the ball and it’d open up more plays for us. Once we completed those two passes, the defense sits back a little bit more because they don’t know what we’re going to do, and that’s key.” Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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