With the season opener in Columbia at Battle lying just over the horizon on Sept. 18 followed by a varsity home football game against California on Sept. 25, the Mexico High School football program held its annual Midnight Football inter-squad scrimmage on Saturday.
"I liked that we finally got to all put the pads on and hit each other. Now we get to see some film of our guys at full speed against good competition," said head coach Steve Haag. "We really don't have a number one unit and a number two. We've got two different teams that are getting to show if they can play. This is about competition. Getting out here under the light s and seeing who really likes to fire it up."
One individual who shined brightly under the lights or the Bulldogs was quarterback hopeful Jon Grubb (#42). Last season he spent some time on the field under center, but in 2017 his role could grow immensely because last years start, Deion Wayman, is not returning to the program for his senior season.
"He's did a good job. (Grubb) played quarterback for us a little bit throughout his career. Now he's getting to take a lot of snaps from that position," Haag said. "He's matured. He's also gotten stronger, faster and has improved every year. We're going to expect good things from (Grubb). I think he gives us another dimension to our offense when it comes to the quarterback running. He's a big, physical kid, so he won't be an easy tackle."
One issue Haag addressed early in the offseason was this team was going to run a similar style of offense and defense as they have in previous years. While some adjustments will be made on a yearly basis designed to better utilize the talent on-hand, the core foundation of who this program is and what it does will always be to dictate the game pace as opposed to being dictated to.
"When you combine (Grubb) with Cameron (Holman) and Dillon Nichols at fullback, who did a really nice job tonight getting quick off the ball, so we have a lot of depth in our offensive backfield," Haag said. "That's a good thing to have. We feel comfortable giving it to a lot of guys. We expect a lot from those seniors like Jonathan (Grubb) and Cam (Holman) as we move forward throughout the year."
Another player who stood out for the Bulldogs Saturday morning under the lights was two-way lineman Terrese Aaron. After winning a state heavyweight wrestling title in the winter and qualifying for the state track meet in the spring, the senior picked up right where he left off in 2016.
"Terrese started on the offensive and defensive line last year, but we're trying to get more guys play on the offensive line so he can be a little more rested on defense," said Haag. "He probably held back a little. I don't know if he played 100 percent. Terrese is one of the top defensive linemen in the state. Not just in class 3, all of Missouri. He'll be on the field a lot. I don't know if we can keep him off the offensive side of the ball that much, but we need to get him some breaks. It's tough to play 90 snaps."
While the format for this event was Red vs Black with each team running 12 plays at a time, those squads were an equal split of the upperclassmen. There was also Red and Black lineups of underclassmen who took the field later that night.
Now Mexico has a jamboree on Aug. 11 before playing its varsity season opener at the Spartans on Aug. 18.
"Battle is a good team. Our objective is we need to get ready for Hannibal. Our first goal every season is to win the North Central Missouri Conference championship," Haag said. "Our second goal is a district title and eventually we'd like to win a state championship. In order to win that league title we have to get past Hannibal. We thought we were a little shell shocked when we played them in the past. We needed to schedule a team that would come out and hit us, so we put Battle on the slate."