LINDSBORG – For the past few seasons, the New England Patriots have held joint practices with another team during the preseason. They have the opportunity to practice against another group of players all week before the game, and a chance for another measuring stick from a coach's perspective.
Bethany College coach Manny Matsakis liked the idea so much he decided to try a small scale combined practice with nearby Hutchinson Community College. The Blue Dragons will open the 2014 season as the No. 11 ranked team in the nation, according to the National Junior College Athletic Association.
"We are excited about the opportunity to host Hutchinson Community College, who is one of the top teams in junior college, in a combined practice and scrimmage format," said Matsakis.
The practice will start tonight at 7:00. The teams will start with normal stretching and pregame routines before moving into small group work at 7:15. The wide receivers and defensive backs will start with two-on-two's, while the interiors will get 10 minutes of work themselves. The teams will then move to 7-on-7 passing drills at the same time the lineman compete in 1-on-1 pass rush drills.
The teams will split work for punt and punt return and both will have four punts. At 8:10, the Swedes’ first-team offense will take the field against the Hutchinson first-team defense. The drive will start at the 35-yard line and it will be a moving-the-chains possession. Then the Blue Dragons’ first-team offense will square off against the Swedes’ first-team defense. Following that drive the second teams will take the field with each team getting a possession.
Each team will take four turns on kick off and kick-off return before the first-team offense and defense return to action at 8:40. This time, however, the ball will be placed at the 20-yard line. Both teams’ first and second strings will have an opportunity to go in from the 20. Following this, the field goal units will take the field.
Starting at 9:10, each unit will be put in a 2-minute drill situation with the ball starting at their own 20-yard line. After the 2-minute drills, at 9:30, the third-string teams will take the field and take their shot at earning more playing time while sliding up the depth chart.
"This is a unique way for both of our teams to move forward in preparation for the upcoming season. I think both teams will get a lot out of this," Matsakis added.
The practice will be an open practice starting at 6:45 PM, and both teams would want to see fans in attendance.