RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The Shaw Bears hit the field for their spring football game looking to fine tune their game plan, and make a little contact.

But above all else: “Number one thing is we got out of there healthy,” said Shaw head coach Adrian Jones.

The defense is usually ahead of the offense this time of year and this weekend was no exception. Early on there was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide as the Bears defenders filled every gap and brought pressure on just about every play.

“It’s great to see them finish strong like that because you have guys like Kevin Sherman who are not playing for us anymore so we lost those positions and leaders,” said Jones. “The new guys have stepped in and did a great job.”

Their motto might as well have been “meet me at the quarterback” for that is where half of the Bears defense wound up on any given play.

“We fly to the ball every play,” said Bears sophomore linebacker Keshaun Denham. “First down, second down — it don’t matter the distance we’re going to fly to the ball.”

Like every great unit, the Bears offense adjusted.

First they softened the middle with a bread and butter run game that will be as devastating as it was last year. When the defense loaded the box, it was then the Bears showed off the aerial attack for a few highlight-reel shots downfield.

“Early in the game the defense was punching us in the mouth and we came out and we picked the tempo up,” said sophomore offensive lineman Antavious Zachary. “I felt like we were playing too slow early so we picked the tempo up and we bounced back and we started communicating more and we started to move the ball. That’s a good sign because you will face adversity during the season.”

The way the offense moved the ball made coach Jones take notice. It showed his players and staff could come through with solutions to problems in real-time using a variety of personnel to get the job done all while gaining much-needed experience in the process.

“Just seeing everybody get touches — you got guys that didn’t get a lot of touched last year. Jon Barnes did a great job of catching the ball today and all three of our running backs got in the end zone,” Jones said.

The Bears didn’t just try out new players and schemes but an entirely new venue.

Instead of holding the game at Chavis Park, where they practice, or Saint Augustine’s where they play home games, they held the spring game at Durham County Memorial Stadium.

“This is home for me — I love it,” said Jones. “I think this is a great atmosphere for us.”

The picture-perfect blue sky against the green new field turf made the conditions tough to beat and had the players echoing the sentiments of their coach when it came to the vibe of their possible future home.

“The atmosphere was good and it wasn’t even a crowded stadium,” said Denham. “It didn’t matter — I still felt the energy.”