Allen Cartwright was on the Metter sideline a year ago when the Tigers opened the football season against Bryan County.
He’ll be across from them this year as the Redskins host Metter at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Cartwright’s first game as BCHS head coach.
However, he downplayed the notion that facing his previous team will add intrigue to his Bryan County debut.
“Not at all,” Cartwright said, with a smile and a chuckle.
Cartwright maintained that he isn’t as concerned about the opponent as he is that his new team starts the season well. Metter, where Cartwright was the offensive coordinator and strength coach, won last year’s opener 26-0.
The Redskins shook off the loss to finish 5-5 and make the playoffs for the second straight year under Mark Wilson, who took the head coaching job at Taylor County this spring. Metter started 2-0 last season before losing six of eight games and missing the playoffs.
While many Georgia schools won’t start the season until next week, Bryan County and Metter will kick off the 2015 campaign just a week after their preseason scrimmages. The Redskins defeated Savannah Country Day 14-3 in their scrimmage Aug. 13, and Metter fell 7-6 to Tattnall County on Friday.
“Being a new coach and putting in new schemes, I would like to have the extra week,” Cartwright said. “But it is what it is, so we’re just going to keep grinding and hopefully get better.”
The BCHS offense got better after struggling for most of the first half of the scrimmage. The Redskins mustered just 44 yards on their first five possessions before putting together a four-play, 55-yard drive, capped by senior Dominique Mock’s 41-yard touchdown run with 51 seconds left in the first half.
“That gave us a spark,” Cartwright said. “After that, we settled down and we were able to string together drives, and the defense even started looking faster to the football.”
A 32-yard run by Kimonti Murray set up fellow junior Markez Bostick’s 25-yard, tackle-breaking touchdown run late in the third quarter on the varsity squad’s final possession of the game. Junior Christian Thomas booted the extra point after each touchdown.
Cartwright said the Redskins performed “about how we expected.” With a number of players seeing their first varsity-game action, Bryan County made several mistakes early before settling down and playing better in the second and third quarters.
“Overall, we have a lot of work to do, but we knew that was going to be the case,” Cartwright said. “I’m just happy that we were able to look like we steadily improved throughout the game.”
Bostick led the Redskins with 62 yards rushing on nine carries. Mock gained 54 yards on just four carries, Murray added 48 yards on three carries and sophomore YaDevrn Eason rushed eight times for 35 yards.
While the Redskins had a balanced rushing attack, they struggled in the passing game. Sophomore quarterback Gage Hagan completed 1 of 6 passes for 15 yards with an interception, with Bostick the recipient of the lone completion.
“Some guys we feel really solid about, but in other areas we’re playing guys who have never played varsity football,” Cartwright said. “So we’re trying to see how they stack up and whether they can play varsity-level competition. Some of them passed the test, and other ones, we still have a lot to learn about.”
Bryan County miscues in the first quarter set up Savannah Country Day in good field position, but the BCHS defense kept the Hornets out of the end zone. The Redskins were intercepted on their third play from scrimmage, and their second possession ended with a 10-yard punt.
The Hornets began their first two drives at Bryan County’s 20- and 40-yard lines, but had only a 3-0 lead to show for it. Mock ended SCD’s first possession with an interception at the 8-yard line and a 17-yard return, and the BCHS defense held the Hornets to a 40-yard field goal on the next drive.
“We expected coming in that our defense would be the strength of our team, because we’ve got more-experienced players (there),” Cartwright said. “Offensively, hopefully we’ll continue to get better every week.”