Fontainebleau football coach Chris Blocker is quite familiar with the program, having served for several years as the Bulldogs defensive coordinator, and before that, as a position coach.
But Thursday evening at the Dawg Pound at the Mandeville-based school, Blocker got his first taste of action as the Fontainebleau head coach. His team played an intrasquad spring game, because Blocker wanted additional looks at the young men he will coach in 2015.
The new coach was pleased with the effort but said the Bulldogs have work to do if they will contend for a District 6-5A championship in the traditionally difficult, north shore-based district.
Blocker assumed the lead job after former coach Mike Materne retired after the 2014 season.
“Whenever you have change, you have people that are bringing something a bit new, and they are enthusiastic,” Blocker said.
“The team has played like that this spring. There’s been a bunch of energy, and that’s what you expect as they fight for starting jobs out there coming into the summer and fall.”
Heavy rain before the spring game resulted in variations to the planned format of Thursday’s on-field scrimmage, with two consecutive 15-minute quarters starting the contest (the last of which was scrapped with more than nine minutes remaining on the clock.)
The teams ran a few additional drills for a total of about 100 minutes of work in the game.
The first-team offense started with the ball deep in its territory against the second-team defense. Senior running back Cole Sisung provided the highlight of that possession, taking a screen pass down the left sideline for nearly 80 yards and a score.
After another drive by the first-team offense stalled, the starters flipped sides and the first-team defense got its chance against the second-team offense. The defense held up its side of the bargain on that possession, limiting the offense to about 35 yards of on the drive.
As the game wore on, the offense began to take over, though. First-team quarterback Mason Blocker ran for a 50-yard touchdown midway through the 15 minutes of scrimmage, and Brandon Akkawi scored on a short run, as well.
Devin Fury caught a 25-yard touchdown in the second part of the scrimmage. Nickalus Ford also scored for the second-team offense on a short run. When the teams got into red-zone drills, senior kicker Sean Spiess cleanly kicked several short-range field goals.
There was at least one more scoring play later in the game, further cementing the Bulldogs offensive prowess against the defense.
The on-field action was not entirely unexpected, Blocker said.
“The kids returning know what to expect, but we’ve given them a bit of a twist in that regard,” Blocker said. “We have six or seven guys on offense returning.
Defensively, we lost some players up front, and the other spots are wide open. The sense of competition that they bring to a spring game is what you look for. And you can see it in practices so far. That’s going to make everyone stronger as we head into the season.”
Mason Blocker said the Bulldogs have room to grow, and that he will do all he can to get the offense and defense ready for the season come August.
“I put everything on my shoulders,” he said. “If anything happens, wherever, it’s on me. ... Honestly, our main goal is for a home playoff game. We have the players, the talent, to do it.”