RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Usually Chavis Park is where you can find little kids of various ages getting together for some neighborhood football.
Saturday, they took a back seat to the Shaw Bears who took over the field for one of the most spirited spring games in recent memory.
“If feels good just to come back out here to have fun and fly around,” said Shaw linebacker Justin Daniels. “Just to play hard on a day like today is just great.”
In front of couple hundred spectators the Bears went about the business of fine tuning their craft.
Sure coaches yelled but it had nothing to do with motivation. Having not played an actual game since Nov. 9, 2019, nobody on the field was walking. Actually, nobody on the sidelines was walking either.
Coaches and players alike enjoyed every moment of the game COVID-19 had taken from them.
“It’s great to be back out here and see these guys having fun,” said Bears head football coach Adrian Jones. “Where we were a year and a half ago — just trying to plan to get to this point — I’m very proud of my guys, very proud of the job the coaching staff is doing.”
“It’s a blessing because during COVID we couldn’t do anything,” said Shaw Bears lineman Tyrese Bobbitt. “We were stuck inside, locked up in the house, trying to work out it was almost impossible.”
Unlike some spring games where the defense is ahead of the offense, this final spring scrimmage showed the two sides were about equal. It’s something Jones was glad to see.
He had high praise for his signal-callers cutting down the interceptions but he saved his best praise for tight end Allajah Mitchell.
“That young man played defensive end when he first got here,” said Jones. “We moved him to running back and now he’s a tight end and so we think we’ve found a position that he can really flourish at.”
With each play in a spring game being a teachable moment, there were some other minor things the coach would like to see tightened up before the Bears hit the field this fall.
“The first touchdown, the celebration down there where we got the flag,” said Jones shaking his head. “Just act like you’ve been there and just be consistent at what you do.”
His players also have a few things they will work on before they return to camp as well.
“Stopping the mental mistakes will be big for us,” said Bobbitt. “That’s the biggest thing that stops us offensive lineman — the mental mistakes. We will clear that up by summer when we come back.”
“In the fall everything is going to be locked down,” said Daniels. “Everybody will be doing their jobs and it’s going to be something big, we will be ready.”