The game results may not have been what head Coach Brian Brocato would prefer, but considering it was his young team’s first scrimmage of 2008 and it came at the hands of a more experienced 3-AAAAA Groves team, he had to be pleased with some of the efforts on the field.
Both squads squared off Friday at Wildcat Field and both played typical first games – lots of penalties, turnovers and missed assignments could be seen on both sides. However, both teams also played their offense from a shotgun formation that made for some offensive entertainment and gave the Wildcat faithfuls in attendance a little different look than they are used to.
Richmond Hill got the ball first and went three and out. They fumbled on their first two possessions and seemed a little conservative in the new formation. Groves, on the other hand, took the ball quickly down the field on their first time with the ball and, on the strength of senior quarterback Brandon Jones’ arm and legs, took the early lead.
Jones hit his favorite target on the night wide out DJ Edwards on a long pass over the middle and then a shorter route to tight end Ashton Andrews to set up Jones for the four yard sneak. As Richmond Hill seemed a little out of sorts on offense, the defense was equally in awe by the Arial attack that Groves was unleashing on them.
Richmond Hill stopped the Rebels on their next possession on Brandon Sullivan’s long interception. Richmond Hill appeared to be in business, but their next drive stalled after what looked like a touchdown pass to Shaquille Walker was dropped in the open field.
Unlike Groves, Richmond Hill was running more of an option from the shotgun and Brocato’s projected starting quarterback to run that option, Tyler Mitchell, is currently on the sidelines with a broken hand. Eli Thompson and Matt Williams took turns at the offense and gained some valuable experience against a full speed defense.
After the Wildcat defense stopped, Groves went into the red zone and took the ball back on a failed fourth down play. After that, the Richmond Hill offense started to click.
Walker made up for his drop with a long first down run before Thompson connected with Zach Young on a nice catch to the Wildcats’ 23 yard line. Tail back Zach Denny made up for his earlier fumble with a couple of nice runs up the middle and Walker went in for the score from the three-yard line. Richmond Hill had mixed the pass with the run well and, for the first time that night, had the defense on their heels.
Lady Cat Lori Barnes came on to kick the extra point for the Wildcats and gave those in attendance something to cheer about - their first lead in 2008, 7-6. Albeit it wouldn’t last as the more athletic Groves team scored twice more before the second half was turned over to the substitutes.
Next up for the Cats is the first regular season game versus Bryan County in Pembroke on Aug. 29.