The Hendersonville High School football team’s offense was effective and its defense was opportunistic in the Commandos’ first scrimmage of the preseason outscoring Rhea County 37-20.

“We were just looking for effort and to play hard and to compete,” said Hendersonville coach James Beasley. “We were just excited to play against someone else.”

After recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff, the Commandos opened the scoring on the next play with a 7-yard fun by senior running back Issiah Chandler.

Later in the game, Chandler also scored on a 20-yard pass reception.

The Commandos scored on six of their seven offensive possessions. Other Commandos to score were senior quarterback Drew Hohenbrink on a 2-yard run, junior kicker Andrew Martin on a 27-yard field goal, senior Helton Porter on a 5-yard run, and sophomore quarterback Ryan Oden on a 6-yard run.

“We seemed to be executing where we expect to be” at this point in the preseason, Beasley said of the Commando offense. “The kids are progressing.”

Despite the scores, Beasley said there were some mistakes his offense needs to correct, including ball security and the timing on their hand-offs. “We can get better on all those things,” he said. 

Defensively, the Commandos recovered two fumbles and had an interception. Beasley was glad to see his team take advantage of the Rhea County turnovers, “which is what we always want to do,” Beasley added. 

“We still obviously have got a lot of room to improve” defensively, Beasley continued. 

There were plays where the team lined up wrong and missed assignments, he said. “That is going to happen early in the season.”

But he was glad to see his defense play “hard and aggressively. Those two things we can build on.”

Hohenbrink, the returning starter at quarterback, echoed his coach in assessing the Commandos’ performance. “I think we were very physical,” he said. “We had a lot of good effort.”

It was nice to finally line up against another team. We were excited to play someone else. It’s the first time since the spring we’ve had to hit somebody else.”

Beasley expressed gratitude to the Rhea County, a 5A team located northeast of Chattanooga, for making the 2 hour 40 minute drive to scrimmage Hendersonville. 

The Commandos have a quick turn-around before their next scrimmage when they travel to Stewarts Creek on Monday, August 12. On Friday, Aug. 16, they will travel to Macon County for their jamboree.

Then, Hendersonville will open the season on Friday, Aug. 23, hosting Oakland High School, the defending 6A state champion. The Patriots beat Hendersonville 28-0 in the second round of the playoffs last year.

“We want to be a state championship football team here,” Beasley said. “That’s what we want. By playing teams like Oakland we’ll test ourselves against the best.”

Besides Oakland, Hendersonville’s non-region schedule includes games against Giles County, Independence and county rivals Beech and Gallatin. 

“We’re excited for it,” Hohenbrink said of the tough schedule that includes region games against Station Camp, Lebanon, Wilson Central, Rossview and Mt. Juliet.

Getting through a schedule like that, Beasley said, “you feel like you can compete with anybody.”

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