After more than a week of practicing against each other, the Saline varsity football team finally got a chance to measure themselves against an opponent.
Birmingham Groves, Saline’s opponent in week nine this year, visited Hornet Stadium Tuesday for a joint practice. First the offenses and defenses ran plays against each other while the linemen ran plays against each other on the other field. Then the full teams practiced scoring drives against each other’s defense.
The second week of practice is an important one, Saline head coach Joe Palka said.
“"This is a big week for us because we're going against guys that aren't us. It generates a level of enthusiasm because guys are tired of going at each other. They wanted to get after somebody else," Palka said. “It's also important to see where we're at, physically. So far we're seeing what we thought we'd see. We have another big test with a four-way (scrimmage at Dearborn Thursday). We’re keeping (the plays) vanilla right now to see who can do what.”
Senior Sean O’Keefe, a starter on the defensive line since his sophomore year, said he was glad to have a different team to play against.
“It was good to see some type of offense other than our own. It was good to see some adversity, too,” O’Keefe said.
On defense and offense, the Hornets started a little slow. Saline struggled to gain any yards on its first few offensive runs. The Hornets also gave up an early touchdown on defense. But as the practice went on, the Hornets took over on both sides of the ball.
“That's been our trademark. We get better as the year goes on. Today we got better as the practice went on,” Palka said.
Connor Hibbard ran for several touchdowns for the Hornets, including one long 40-yard sprint where he charged up the middle, split between the defensive backs and raced to the end zone. Saline also scored once in the air.
Saline scrimmages at Dearborn at 1 p.m. Thursday, facing Dearborn, Allen Park and Livonia Franklin.
O’Keefe and the Hornets are ready for week one at Rockford.
“I've been excited since we lost to Canton in regionals. I excited to get down there and excited for it to be game day,” O’Keefe said.