Scrimmages allow teams evaluation time
The payoff for weeks of conditioning, drilling and playbook study is just around the corner for central Ohio high school football teams.
On Tuesday, Aug. 7, more than a dozen area programs will get their first taste of what the next few months will be like when they compete in various scrimmage settings.
Matchups that day won't necessarily have the flow of a typical game as coaches sometimes will be on the field and scoring touchdowns won't always be the ultimate goal, but that's fine with coaches like Grove City Christian's Kerry Owens.
The Eagles will get the regular-season game simulation they believe they need on Aug. 17, when they travel to Harvest Prep to face the Warriors and Columbus East.
That day, Grove City Christian will be among a handful of teams throughout the area involved in what the OHSAA calls a "jamboree."
OHSAA member schools are permitted two scrimmages and one jamboree, which it defines as a third preseason game designed to serve as a "dress rehearsal."
Although the teams won't necessarily exchange game tapes before the jamboree, Owens expects they'll have an understanding beforehand of what to expect from their opponents.
"The third one gives you another chance to re-evaluate your players and it gives you a more realistic game-time situation," he said. "The other two scrimmages you sometimes have coaches on the field, but we treat the jamboree more like a game. Those first two scrimmages, we'll do some shotgun and practice all kinds of plays."
Each participating school in a jamboree must pay the OHSAA a $250 fee that goes into the organization's catastrophic insurance fund. A catastrophic injury is one the OHSAA defines as having medical bills that exceed $25,000.
The OHSAA pays an annual insurance premium of $600,000, and member schools pay no membership or insurance fee.
More than $70,000 was raised each of the past two years for the catastrophic insurance fund, according to the OHSAA.
Teams are permitted to charge an admission fee to the jamboree to help pay the money that must go to the OHSAA.
"The first scrimmage is when you want to see where your players fit," said first-year Centennial coach Mark Shaffer, whose team plays host to Africentric in a jamboree Aug. 17. "Since I wasn't an assistant last year (at Centennial), I really don't know what we have yet. The second scrimmage is just to get guys more time in the system. With the jamboree, you can run it just like a game and I want it to be as realistic as possible. We're excited to get our season going."
According to the OHSAA, the jamboree was created in 2009 to be conducted during the final three days of two-a-day practices. There can be exceptions, however, as Olentangy will play its jamboree against Brookhaven on Aug. 10.
"It sets up more of a live situation," Braves coach Ed Terwilliger said. "If we're going to have contact, I'd rather it be against an opponent. It's a really good evaluation tool."
Although Hilliard Darby is having a jamboree against visiting Marysville on Aug. 17, the Panthers have just one other scrimmage.
According to Darby coach John Santagata, his team had two scrimmages and one jamboree last year but determined the extra scrimmage wasn't a good fit for his program's preseason.
"We look at it as a chance to get our ninth grade, our (junior varsity) and our varsity to come in with our coaches up in the booth," Santagata said. "We do our jamboree almost like a kicking scrimmage so that both sides can work on their kicking and we want everybody to take a field goal.
"We've done two scrimmages and one jamboree in the past, but we found that going live before our first game wasn't an advantage for us. It's just exciting being out there because you get to go against different competition."