OGDEN — While the high school football season has kicked off, programs like Weber State are battling through the aches, pains and fatigue of fall camp.
The Wildcats continued the grind Saturday with a second day of scrimmage sessions at Stewart Stadium.
“These are the weeks when camp gets hard, when your body’s hurting,” junior linebacker and Weber High alum Auston Tesch said. “But seeing our team grind through, I think we’re on the right track for where we want to be.”
The scrimmage played out like last Saturday’s, with the offense and defense facing off in situational simulations — long fields, two-minute drives, red-zone situations and more.
For the most part, the defense won the day, stalling drives with whistle sacks or batted passes.
“I feel the defense is coming along really well,” Tesch said. “I’m a little nitpicky, so those plays the offense gets, you kind of kick yourself a little bit. But I’m really proud of how the defense came out and controlled how we played today.”
Sophomore Jake Constantine and redshirt freshman Kaden Jenks continued to get nearly all of the quarterback reps, with Constantine typically quarterbacking the first team.
Late in the practice, Constantine engineered a field-goal drive with 57 yards to go and 1:17 left on the clock. He completed passes to Isiah Jackson, David Ames, Treshawn Garrett and Rashid Shaheed to go 6 of 9 for 48 yards on the drive. The completion to Ames was tucked between defenders in the middle of the field for 14 yards.
After a near-touchdown floated to Garrett in the front of the end zone was dropped, Trey Tuttle punched in a 22-yard field goal as time expired.
“The offense is coming along pretty well. I’ve been impressed in the battle for quarterback,” Tesch said.
Cameron Hansen ripped a 28-yard run and rushed for a few touchdowns, as did Kris Jackson from 11 yards out during red-zone play. Clay Moss trucked over a defender during a 31-yard gain in a four-minute drill.
“A lot of our younger running backs are really stepping up and they’re not afraid of contact and breaking some tackles,” Tesch said. “So that’s something that keeps us on defense on our toes.”
Much of that success came in the “second half” of the scrimmage.
“When we pull a couple players, the backups still need to improve. When we put those offensive guys back in the scrimmage late, during the two-minute time, the offense went right down the field and looked very good,” head coach Jay Hill said. “We need our backups to continue to get better.”
Hill said schemes are installed and the final week of fall camp is about polishing plays and finding toughness and discipline.
In other highlights, defensive back Jordan Preator scooped up a ball fumbled into the end zone and, for a moment, appeared to have a blocking convoy to score a 100-yard return up the sideline. But Jenks ran down the group on an angle, took on a blocker and caused Preator to stumble near midfield trying to cut back.
In another moment, defensive end Mason Tye scooped up a fumble and returned it about 15 yards for a score. During Jenks’ reps in the drill with 1:17 left, his drive ended near the 40 when Shamon Willis made a nice read on a throw and batted it down near the sideline.
OPARA JOINS THE ‘CATS
WSU has welcomed an addition to its roster in recent days. Three-star defensive lineman and former BYU signee Chinonso Opara from Juan Diego High School joined the Wildcats and took some reps late in Saturday’s practice.
Opara moved to the United States from Nigeria and went from junior varsity player to varsity starter at 3A champion Juan Diego in the 2017 season. The 6-foot-8, 270-pound player originally signed with BYU out of high school but did not participate in fall camp with the Cougars. He also had an offer from Utah.
“We’ve known about Chinonso for a long time,” Hill said. “When we had the opportunity to get him here, it was a no-brainer for us. His potential is so big … we’ve known about his upside.”
HEBER HERE WE COME
Weber State will spend a few days in Heber City next week as fall camp wraps up, similar to a longer stay there before last season.
“Just a change of environment is important ... trying to get it so it’s not monotonous every day,” Hill said about the trip.
“This is big because the players are stuck with each other all day, all night. I want them to bond, I want them playing games, doing certain things where it’s just us and nobody else.”
Below are highlights from Chinonso Opara’s senior high school season: