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Bush, Airedales See Positives 8/18/21

Bush, Airedales see positives

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Alma football coach Rusty Bush knows the Airedales have to be able to run the football. 

But all things considered, the second-year coach came away pleased following Tuesday’s informal scrimmage with Southside. 

The Airedales, who open the season Sept. 3 at Van Buren, outscored Southside 21-14 in one half of football. 

Alma quarterbacks Joe Trusty and Jackson Daily split time, with Trusty throwing for 171 yards and two scores in the first half. 

“Situationally, he’s (Trusty) still learning,” Bush said. “He’s making some good decisions, and Jackson is, too. I’ve said this before if something were to happen to Joe and we had to take Jackson, that doesn’t worry me one bit.”

Trusty completed 14-of-19 passes along the way, including throws of 62 yards to Conner Stacy and 44 to Shawn Rankins. 

Alma was a bit short-handed. Juniors Reagan Birchfield (linebacker and running back) and Derek Hatcher (receiver) were both out with injuries. Senior receiver BriLee White didn’t suit out, either. 

All three are expected to be back soon. 

“We’re hoping BriLee’s back for ‘Battle of the Bone’ (Van Buren),” Stacy said. “Without him, the energy is a lot different. But we had some other guys step up.”

Alma wasn’t able to get much of a running game going. 

“We’re disappointed in the running game, and that’s without watching the film,” Bush said following the scrimmage. “We didn’t establish the run, and we’ve got to get that fixed. Give credit to Southside, but we don’t necessarily game-plan for a scrimmage, either.”

Meanwhile, Bush was pleased with Rankins’ play. The sophomore hauled in six passes for 59 yards, including the 44-yarder that led to the Airedales’ go-ahead touchdown. 

“Shawn’s an extremely good talent,” Bush said. “Right now, with Hatcher and BriLee Whiteout, Shawn really stepped up. We told him, ‘Hey, you’ve got to go be the man.’

“He made a big play on the sideline for sure.”

“I was on the sideline and I looked up and he (Rankins) made a great adjustment for the ball,” Stacy said. “We got to see what we’re capable of. We had so many mistakes tonight, but we still went out there and played hard. If we can get those small details down, I think we can be contenders this year.”

Devin Poole opened Alma’s scoring with a 5-yard TD run. Later, Trusty threw a nice 3-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Schlegel.

“We’ve been working hard for this,” Trusty said. “I think we got a lot better and we’ll keep working hard to get better throughout the year.”

The Airedales' Kevin Mills' 63-yard interception return set up Schlegel's touchdown reception. Landon Burkhart also had a pick for the Airedales. Landon Burkhart also had an interception for the Airedales. 

Southside quarterback David Sorg threw for 226 yards and two scores, all in the first half. 

Sorg threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns during the Mavericks' first two possessions. He threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Ken Carlisle.