After a rain-soaked Friday night, North Port High finally got to play its annual spring football game on Saturday, giving the coaches and fans a glimpse at what they have for next year.
Though the Bobcats fell to Booker 34-23, it was much less about the final tally and more about the progress of the team.
“I thought our spring overall went well,” North Port coach Brian Hatler said. “We got a lot of stuff inputted and evaluated a lot of guys. We did some really good things, but we did some things that we need to get better at. We need to secure the ball on offense and tackle better on defense. There are a lot of things to build on going into the summer.”
The game is used as a measuring stick and a chance to knock the rust off of some dormant pads that have been itching to collide with someone not wearing blue and white.
Hatler saw a lot of progress, but plenty of room for growth before the Bobcats’ season opener against Sarasota in August.
On the to-do list is limiting turnovers, which was a big concern last season as well.
But one thing North Port did well last season was create those turnovers, a trend that shined on Saturday. Defensive back Bradley Augustin filled up the stat sheet and recorded a pick-6 and forced two fumbles. Other standouts included receiver Colby Pirillo and tight ends Josh Singleton and Zach Kelly.
“We played well at times, were physical at times,” Hatler said. “Booker did a really good job. They have some speed and some skill guys and some guys up front that got after it. They were a playoff team last year and I think they’ll be a playoff team this year as well.”
One of the biggest questions circling the team in the offseason was finding a replacement for graduating senior Jalien Whye. He accounted for a large part of the Bobcats’ offense and is hard to replace.
Even so, Hatler is pleased with his stable of running backs, including Jeff Terry, who scored two rushing touchdowns in the game.
“Terry ran the ball extremely well,” Hatler said. “We feel like we have a little depth at running back, but he kind of carried the majority of the load because those other guys were playing a little bit more defense. He did a really nice job.”
John-Victor Oliveira, the lone returning kicker in the area, was also solid and knocked in a 42-yard kick.