With eight days remaining before the Sept. 5 season opener, the Pawhuska Huskies will hold home football scrimmages Thursday involving visiting high school teams from Pawnee and Tonkawa.

Scrimmage sessions at Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium are to begin around 5:30 p.m. Eighth-grade squads for the will take the field first, followed by freshmen/jayvee units of the Huskies, Bears and Buccaneers.

Varsity squads are expected to get going around 7 p.m., school officials said. In lieu of an admission charge, attending fans can donate laundry soap or towels for use by the local football programs.

The pre-Labor Day Weekend scrimmages will conclude the pre-season, inter-squad workouts for the Pawhuska squad — which launches the regular season at Verdigris.

Inter-squad workouts last Friday at Cleveland gave Pawhuska coaches their first chance to see this year’s players in game-situation action. A strong showing by the seventh-grade Huskies got the session off to a good start and the PHS varsity concluded its workouts with the host Tigers around three hours later.

Pawhuska head coach Craig did not expect his team to set the world on fire in its pre-season debut Friday night.

"Everything we did on offense was just so vanilla," Craig admitted. "That was exactly what we needed to do, though."

In their pre-season scrimmage at Billy Vessels Stadium, the Huskies concentrated on executing a handful of offensive plays against the Cleveland defense.

The host Tigers, meanwhile, unleashed a steady stream of breakaway touchdowns versus their over-matched sparring partners — scoring on four of five offensive series. (Cleveland is a Class 4A squad, while Pawhuska competes at the 2A level.)

"This wasn’t about us winning or losing a scrimmage," said Craig, whose second year at the PHS helm comes in his fourth decade as an Oklahoma prep grid coach.

Pawhuska will hold high school-only home scrimmages Thursday with visiting teams from Pawnee and Tonkawa. Sessions are set to begin at 5:30 p.m. at Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium. In lieu of an admission fee, fans are asked to bring laundry detergent or towels.

The pre-Labor Day Weekend scrimmages will conclude the pre-season, inter-squad workouts for the Huskies, who open the regular season Sept. 5 at Verdigris.

The anxiously-awaited scrimmage at Cleveland gave Craig and his assistant coaches their first true opportunity to evaluate the pre-season performance of this year’s squad. Pawhuska’s varsity roster currently includes 28 players — and three of those were unable to play Friday night due to injuries.

"Our low numbers have made it impossible for us to run our plays under game-type conditions," said Craig. "There’s a big difference in the size and maturity of our starters and the players they’re working out against — that’s why these scrimmages are so important."

Numerous starters will be playing both ways for Pawhuska.With only about a dozen seniors and juniors, the Huskies will rely on a rapidly-developing class of sophomores (plus incoming freshmen) as they seek a sixth straight appearance in the Class 2A state playoffs.

Seniors provided some top efforts for Pawhuska on Friday. Trey Redeagle (6-2, 165 pounds) made an interception and caught a pair of passes thrown by the sophomore signal-caller of the Huskies, Colton Hindman. Hindman completed seven of 14 passes, with one throw dropped and another intercepted.

"Everything we did on offense went from a script," coach Craig explained. "We just worked on plays we wanted to work on — regardless of the down-and-yardage situations."

Double-duty linemen Tyler Reese and Dakota Jester both more than held their owned against Cleveland. Reese is a third-year starter and Jester (6-2, 300 pounds) will fill the center of both Huskie lines. Four-year varsity player Hayden Javellas triggered enthusiastic responses from his coaches with two big hits during the second Cleveland possession. The 5-9, 155-pound senior is expected to be one of Pawhuska’s primary playmakers.

PHS sophomore linebacker/running back John BigHorse gave impressive performances on both sides of the ball — making tackles from sideline to sideline on defense and running strongly up the middle for the Huskie offense.

A highlight of the scrimmage for the visiting was provided by Caleb Bruce, another rising star from the 10th grade. On a fourth down-and-eight play during the next-to-the-last offensive series for the Huskies, Bruce carried left on a sweep before cutting up the sideline for a 38-yard gain that bewildered several defenders of the Tigers.

"We got quite a bit accomplished at Cleveland and will continue to work on things Thursday night," coach Craig said. "Most important is to keep making progress and keep people healthy."

A strong showing by the Pawhuska seventh-graders got things off to a good start for Pawhuska on Friday. Quarterback Easton Kirk ran for three touchdowns (each of 40 or more yards) and passed for a fourth TD. The Huskies were similarly impressive on defense against their Cleveland counterparts.

Following the scrimmage between eighth-grade squads, Pawhuska’s freshmen/junior varsity unit battled on near-even terms with its hosts. Running back Matthew Taft and quarterback Bradley Moreland provided the Huskie jayvees with a solid ground attack.

The seventh- and eighth-grade Pawhuska squads, as well as the freshmen/jayvees, will start the 2014 regular seasons with home games against the Dewey Bulldoggers on Tuesday, Sept. 9. Following its Sept. 5 road opener on the road against the Cardinals, the Huskie varsity team hosts Dewey on Sept. 12 and plays at Ormand Beach Stadium again Sept. 19 versus the Hominy Bucks.

Cleveland begins its regular season with a Sept. 5 contest at Hominy. This will be the sixth straight season for the Tigers to open against the Bucks. The larger-class Cleveland squad has won the last five of the Highway 99 showdowns.