At this time of year, all any coach can ask for is improvement from play to play.
During Jefferson City's Red and Black Scrimmage on Friday at Adkins Stadium, that's exactly what they saw out of quarterback Gabe Marcantonio.
The first-year starter settled in as the scrimmage went on, seeming to grow more comfortable.
"We're rushing him. If you notice, coaches are out there, we're trying to get him frantic, we're trying to get him more gamelike," Jefferson City head coach Ted LePage said. "And once Gabe decided, "Hey this isn't just about running as fast as we can, it's about running the offense,' I thought he settled down and did a really nice job."
The senior's work included a 45-yard touchdown pass to Dan Ellinger down the middle of the field against Jefferson City's No. 1 defense.
He started out 1-of-5 against the No. 1 defense, but got things under control, completing three out his next four passes. He finished the scrimmage 6-of-13 against the No. 1 defense in two series.
He connected with Jake Pridgin for three touchdown passes during time against the No. 2 defense, including 45- and 50-yard scores.
"We're going to try and get the ball in our playmakers' hands," LePage said. "If you notice, we had four guys out there and every one of them contributed in the game, and every one of them had really good ball reception and runs after they caught the ball."
Aside from the long touchdown pass by Marcantonio, the No. 1 defense stood its ground against the No. 1 offense.
But most of the night featured the No. 1 offense against the No. 2 defense and vice versa.
The scrimmage also was the first chance for coaches to see an offensive line that features four new starters. LePage said he'd have to look at the film before assessing the offensive line play, but he thought it was "OK." At times Marcantonio was rushed, but he was able to get several swing passes and screens off.
"I'd like to see us get a little better push on our run game," LePage said. "I thought we protected pretty well. I felt like we went in and out of what we were supposed to do as far as play sequences. But I still feel like we're a little bit behind in some areas. We need to be a little bit more aggressive. I thought we were a little bit passive. I want us to be a little more biting."
Zach Bond added an interception for the defense during the goal-line situation portion of the scrimmage.
Friday's scrimmage was in lieu of a Jamboree. LePage said he liked this format because it allowed the team to run more than 80 plays as opposed to a Jamboree that would feature 36 plays.
"I didn't think we had a lot of mental errors as far as the mechanics of the game," LePage said. "Did we have some mental errors on plays or coverages? Yes."
It also gave the Jays a good look at their kicking game, which LePage said he was pleased with, especially the fact there were no special teams penalties.
"You always go into scrimmage hoping that you're just going to be perfect," LePage said. "But if one side is doing good or the other side is not doing good, you can't look at it that way. We're out here, it was a good practice for us. I feel really good about the pace we went at."
The Jays open the season at 1 p.m. next Saturday at McCluer North.