Gearing up for another potential AAA State Playoff run, the Calhoun football team capped off Spring practice and treated the Yellow Jacket faithful to an early glimpse of the 2017 version of the team during the annual Black and Gold Spring Game on Wednesday.
Both teams flashed dynamic athleticism and play-making ability during the game, but it was the Black squad that ultimately prevailed 30-7 over the Gold as the final horn sounded.
Donning the green non-contact jersey, rising sophomore quarterback Jake Morrow took all the signal-caller reps for both teams.
Morrow, who was the lone quarterback on the team to take part in Spring Practice due to the others playing Spring sports, showed moments of dual-threat prowess, airing the ball out for over 200 passing yards between teams and providing one of the game’s memorable highlights by slicing through the defense for a 70-yard touchdown that counted towards the Black squad’s tally in the third quarter.
One of Morrow’s most successful passes was a quick screen that was snagged near the boundary by wide receiver Bralin Barton, who promptly out-sprinted the secondary for a 75-yard score that put the Black squad on the board in the game’s opening minutes.
Barton was a dominant presence for the Black squad’s offense for the duration of the contest, eclipsing 100 receiving yards on six catches and tacking on an acrobatic 42-yard grab in the fourth to put his team back in the red zone.
“I thought our offensive execution was really good at times today,” head coach Hal Lamb said.
“I was happy with the effort from our young quarterback. We try to use the Spring as a time to tinker with our playbook and try some new things on that side of the ball.”
The Jackets also proved proficient in the running game, with the offensive lines of both squads prying open rushing lanes and a rotation of running backs piling up yardage.
Running back Alex Ambrocio was responsible for most of the damage on the ground for the Black team. After utilizing a couple solid blocks, he powered through tackles and rumbled his way into scoring range on a 40-yard run in the second quarter.
A couple of plays later, Ambrocio punched the ball in for the 1-yard rushing touchdown.
Jonkell Tolbert also contributed quality carries for the Black team, chipping in a shifty 21-yard rush in the second quarter.
The Gold team’s offense was anchored by the powerful running style of veteran back Zack Fuller, who followed his blockers and shed would-be tacklers for 46 yards on seven carries.
“We definitely have some good backs that we can rely on,” Lamb said. “I believe we will also be pretty strong up front on the offensive line this upcoming season.”
The defenses of both teams were disruptive throughout the game, generating multiple sacks and turnovers. The defensive pressure often resulted in a number of botched snaps. One of those fumbles was scooped up by Josh Hales, who crossed the goal line for another Black squad score.
Defensive back James Prater had a perfect read on a Morrow pass in the fourth quarter, picking it off and swiftly returning it 30 yards for the Gold team’s lone touchdown. Luke Moseley also came up with an interception as the clock expired for the Gold defense.
“Defense is probably our biggest strength right now, and I think that showed today,” Lamb said. “We have a lot of kids coming back on that side of the ball, so we feel good about the things we can do.”
Despite losing a number of key contributors from both sides of the ball via graduation, and missing a handful of others due to the baseball team’s postseason success, Lamb noted his team made great strides during Spring drills. Lamb said he believes that growth was on display during the scrimmage.
“Overall, I think we found some guys over the last 10 days that will be able to help in a big way during the Fall,” Lamb said. “There has been a lot of excitement around the team this Spring, and I was really pleased with the attitude and participation of all the players today.”
The Jackets open the 2017 regular season on Aug. 18 when Douglass (Atlanta) visits Phil Reeve Stadium.