To guard against injuries, Coach Dave White has been limiting the South team's contact during practice for the Orange County all-star football game Friday.
But Saturday, White led the South through a half-hour, full-contact scrimmage at Edison High School, the players' first game-like experience since November.
"We just wanted to give the kids a taste and that will be it until the game," said White, who is Edison's coach.
Despite the precautions, the South may already have lost one of its running backs. Edison's Shane Sherman, the county's third-leading rusher last season with 1,465 yards, didn't practice Saturday because of a knee injury and might miss Friday's game.
White said Sherman doesn't remember injuring his knee but that it was sore when he practiced Friday. When he woke up Saturday, he couldn't straighten his leg competely.
White said a doctor who examined the knee doubted that Sherman would be able to play Friday. The knee will be checked again on Monday to determine if arthroscopic surgery is necessary.
The all-star game was to have been the last competitive football game for Sherman, who will attend Orange Coast College in the fall but isn't planning to play football.
"This was going to be his last hurrah and I feel sad for him," White said.
Saturday's scrimmage gave White a chance to look at his team playing as a unit.
The defense stopped the offense on two of three possessions before scoring on the last play of the scrimmage on a 20-yard pass from Mater Dei quarterback Dan O'Neil to Warren Johnson of Corona del Mar. O'Neil completed seven of eight passes during the scrimmage and Edison quarterback Donnie Smith completed five of five. The defense was less forgiving on the ground, however, giving up few yards on six rushing attempts. It also sacked each quarterback twice.
Despite seven first downs, the offense was often out of sync and called for five illegal procedure penalties.
"The defense is always ahead of the offense because they can just react to the ball whereas offense is more timing and precision. We don't have it yet," White said.