For most of the folks at Tad Gormley Stadium on Thursday, it was just a scrimmage.
But for Mark Songy, it was more like the scratch to a 10-year itch.
Songy, who took over as Jesuit’s football coach (again) in July, was back on the sidelines leading the Blue Jays against McDonogh 35.
“My head is still spinning,” Songy said afterwards. I have really just been trying to catch up for the last month. I have been missing it for 10 years. To be honest with you, I was ready to get back out here.”
Opportunity knocked in July when Wayde Keiser suddenly retired. Keiser had spent seven years as Jesuit’s coach but stepped down for family reasons.
Jesuit wasted no time finding a replacement, naming Songy just two days later.
Songy was a familiar name for the Blue Jays faithful.
He was an assistant there for two seasons in the early ’90s before taking over as head coach from 1992-96. He returned to Jesuit as an assistant, in charge of the offensive line, for the 2002-03 seasons.
Then he got out of coaching.
Now he’s back.
Jesuit didn’t take long to name his as a replacement, and he didn’t take long to give the Blue Jay fans something to cheer about. On the first play of the scrimmage, quarterback Trey LaForge connected with tight end Foster Moreau for a 70-yard touchdown pass.
Songy trotted down the field, gave a few congratulatory slaps on the helmet to some players and jogged back to the 30-yard line.
Three plays later, LaForge and Moreau hooked up again, this time for a 59-yard score.
Now that’s a coaching debut.
Did Songy have any butterflies beforehand?
“No, I am very comfortable in this atmosphere,” he said. “I just want to see our guys do well. Some did really well.”
In addition to LaForge and Moreau, receiver Kalija Lipscomb caught a pair of touchdowns. Zack Robert had three sacks.
Jesuit players said there wasn’t a big adjustment getting a new coach just six weeks before the start of the season.
“It was terrible news that (Keiser) decided to leave,” LaForge said. “But coach Songy came in and did a great job with the transition and it was very smooth. He kept a lot of the stuff we already had intact. He didn’t want to come in and start changing everything. He is a great coach, and he knows where we need to go.”
Moreau, who has several Division I scholarship offers, agreed.
“We just focused on our work, and we didn’t care who was shouting the commands,” Moreau said. “As long as we were working hard, it didn’t matter who the coach was.”
But Songy said there is still plenty of work to be done.
“We made a lot of mistakes and missed a lot of tackles,” Songy said. “We are forcing ourselves to making big plays instead of those little plays along the way. Way too many penalties. But you know scrimmages are for that. I think when I go back and look at the film I will find some guys who we didn’t know if they would be able to play a lot who will be able to step up and play for us.”
Darius May scored a pair of touchdowns and Jeremiah Thompson had another to lead the Roneagles in the controlled scrimmage. Sci Martin (two sacks) led the defense.
“If our offense comes up to where the defense is, we have a chance to have a really good team,” said McDonogh 35 coach Wayne Reese. “Our skill people are young and 99 percent of the team are juniors that have been here since the seventh and eighth grade so they know our system. We just need some time and some more experience.”
For Jesuit, the time is now. The team has plenty of returning starters off last year’s 6-6 team. Most coaches have them picked to finish second in the Catholic League behind nationally ranked Rummel.
Time will tell.
Jesuit plays Karr on Thursday in a jamboree at Yenni Stadium and then open the real season on Sept. 5 against Ponchatoula.
Songy can hardly wait.
“It’s been 10 years, but it comes back to you real quick,” he said.
Follow Rod Walker on Twitter @rwalkerAdvocate