The intrigue, anticipation and pageantry of high school football returned once more to Floyd County as the Armuchee Indians and the Model Blue Devils squared off in a preseason tune up at Woodard-Tuggle Stadium on Thursday.
It gave both fan bases a fresh, new look at the progress of the summer and the excitement for the fall. And while the Indians won the scrimmage 10-7, the result does not count in the standings, and that’s something Armuchee head coach Jeremy Green wants his players to keep in mind.
“This is just getting us ready for other things,” Green said. “I don’t want (the team) to think about it as a win. I want them to think about it as we played a good football team, we got film and we can go and get better.”
On the flip side, Blue Devils head coach Jeff Hunnicutt said his team had a lot of growing up to do.
“You can tell where we’re weak at,” Hunnicutt said. “We lost the line of scrimmage a good many times tonight and that was evident in the score. Anytime in a scrimmage situation, you want to build up some momentum going into that game one. Armuchee did that. We didn’t.”
While both teams now turn their attention to their regular-season openers (Armuchee at The King’s Academy and Model vs. Sonoraville), we examine the biggest takeaways from Thursday night’s game at Model.
Armuchee wins battle of the line of scrimmage
The Indians take momentum into week one after winning what many coaches consider to be the most critical key to success: the line of scrimmage.
After a scoreless first-half draw, Armuchee ultimately had the necessary push to find offensive momentum and put points on the scoreboard.
Defensively, the Indians had four tackle-for-a-loss. Offensively, the offensive line held up to allow for a big gain to continue moving the chains.
The Blue Devils had seven plays of five yards or more. Armuchee had 11.
“I was really happy with our kids because we woke up,” Green said. “(Defensively, we) started three freshman defensive linemen, we started a sophomore linebacker, a sophomore corner and a sophomore free safety. I was super proud of how they played.”
Model’s youth shows
Last year, Model graduated 18 seniors, many of them two-way starters. In their place stepped a lot of youth and inexperience. And it showed Thursday.
While the defense held its own for the most part, the Blue Devils struggled offensively. Dropped passes, missed blocks and blown assignments cost the team.
Aside from a 70-yard touchdown run from running back Sean Montgomery in the third quarter, Model’s second-longest play of the game went for 13 yards. Only four plays went for more than 10 yards.
The Blue Devils turned the ball over three times, all by way of a fumble.
“Starting unit was frustrating at times,” Hunnicutt said. “Our defensive line I thought played well, again a bunch on inexperienced up there. Offensive line, we’ve got one guy that’s got valuable snaps and it shows.”
In a way, though, a scrimmage against another team can provide plenty of learning and growing opportunities, something Hunnicutt is hoping to see out of his team.
“Hopefully we can build off of what just happened,” Hunnicutt said. “We got some kids on film. Go review that and next man up in preps Monday.”
Armuchee’s second unit shows out
After Armuchee’s first units subbed out, the twos performed quite admirably. After starting quarterback Chandler DeSanto exited, freshman Luke Lively entered.
Lively connected on 5-of-7 passing for 73 yards. His longest pass of the night was a 40-yard, game-winning touchdown throw to Malik Drinic.
Fellow freshman Colton Phillips also shined, carrying the ball on seven occasions for 19 yards and registering one tackle-for-a-loss on defense.
Rush by committee?
Last year, Model’s offense almost exclusively became a rushing attack, as senior Joseph Wallace carried the rock for over 1,500 yards.
This year, the Blue Devils are in search of a new No. 1 to carry the ball and the search remains ongoing, though Montgomery, a senior, and sophomore Riley Chapman will be names to keep an eye out for.
Model used 10 rushers Thursday, including all three quarterbacks featured.
The o-line struggled to create space for its rushers, but if the Blue Devils are forced into a one-dimension scheme, it could be an uphill battle against stiff competition coming this season.