Both Sonoraville and Gordon Central went into Friday night’s preseason scrimmage with several goals in mind, and while the Phoenix came away with a 28-0 win, each team left the contest with things they felt good about and areas to focus on to improve before they open the regular season.
Sonoraville used a balanced rushing attack and an opportunistic passing game to make more plays on offense, but both defenses showed reasons for optimism, especially in the first half with the varsity players taking center stage.
Sonoraville coach Denver Pate, who was leading his Phoenix for the first time in a preseason scrimmage, said there were positives to take away as well as some mistakes that they need to correct.
“There are some things we need to work on and get corrected, but you’re always going to have that in a scrimmage,” said Pate. “It was good to get the guys on the field in a game-like scenario and see what they could do. We had trouble executing on offense the first part of the game, but we got going a little in the second quarter. We played behind the sticks too much, which makes any drive that much harder. I think we saw several good things on defense. We have a lot of confidence in that group, which is a lot of young kids. We know they are going to fly around and play with relentless effort, and that’s what we saw tonight.”
Both defenses played well to start the game as neither offense could put together a consistent drive in the first few series. And it was a defensive play that set up the first score of the contest as Sonoraville’s Blade Bryant came away with an interception at the 50-yard line to set the Phoenix up in good shape to drive for their first score.
After several plays to move the chains, including, a 22-yard run by Matthew Vincent, the Phoenix dented the scoreboard on a one-yard plunge by Vincent into the end zone late in the first quarter. Vincent finished with 49 yards on seven carries in one half of play.
After the Phoenix continued to pitch the shutout, their offense drove again for a touchdown midway through the second quarter as Patrick Moore punctuated the drive with a five-yard TD run to make it 14-0. Moore ran for 67 yards as the leading rusher in the varsity portion of the game game and also went 6-for-10 through the air for 77 yards.
Late in the second quarter, Sonoraville executed a perfect two-minute offense with Moore connecting with Casey Brooks for a 40-yard touchdown pass with 1:05 left in the first half to make it 21-0. Brooks had a solid night receiving with five catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in one half of play.
Gordon Central coach Cory Nix, who is also entering his first season at the helm, said he was pleased with what he saw from his team and how much improvement they showed since the end of Spring Practice.
“I thought the first quarter and a half, we gave them everything they wanted,” said Nix. “We competed and played physical. We made some mistakes and lost contain a few times which let them get outside on us, and they can hurt you when they do that. That was the difference in the first half. Offensively, we would move the ball a little and then shoot ourselves in the foot. But we made a lot of mistakes that can be fixed.
“I think our team showed a lot of grit tonight, and I feel confident about them going into the season next week.”
The reserves and JV took over in the second half, and Sonoraville had the lone successful offensive drive, which came to start the third quarter. After moving the ball down the field a chunk at a time, Chase Potter finished it off with a five-yard touchdown run. Potter finished with 68 yards on six carries as he was one of the younger guys that stood out.
Gordon Central’s defense came out with their lone turnover in the second half as well as Dillon Hatfield jumped on a fumble near midfield shortly into the fourth quarter.
Sonoraville will have a week off before opening the regular season at Model on Aug. 25. Gordon Central jumps right into regular-season play as they will be at home next Friday to host Murray County.
Pate said he is looking forward to the week off to get his team healthy before starting the regular season.
“I think it’s great to have that week,” said Pate. “We will have time for the kids to let their bodies rest and recover after tonight, and we have a chance to get some other kids healthy and be ready for Model.”
Nix said based on the big crowd that traveled across the county to Sonoraville tonight to support his team, he is excited about being at home to open the season next Friday.
“It’s going to be big,” said Nix. “To see the crowd we had tonight means a lot to me and the kids. That excites us about next week. It’s opening night at our place, and we have a lot of new stuff planned. I think the kids are going to be hyped.”