Saturday, August 1, 2009

New offense shines for Eagles in scrimmage

By Craig Harris • The News Examiner • August 1, 2009

WESTMORELAND – The Westmoreland High School football team is ready to move forward after Friday afternoon’s three-hour scrimmage with visiting Friendship Christian and White House Heritage, which took place on the rain-soaked practice field at WHS.

“We’re working on our basic stuff,” explained Eagles’ first-year head coach Bronson Bradley. “Now, I know we can go to the next phase. I know which kids I can rely on. That’s really big.”

Bradley has taken Westmoreland away from its traditional wing-T offense and implemented the single-wing attack, which had considerable success in Friday’s scrimmage action.

The three teams alternated 10-play offensive series, and the Eagles’ first-team offense scored on each of its four series. However, due in part to a middle school scrimmage taking place on the other end of the practice complex, each possession started only 30 or 40 yards from the end zone.

“I’m very pleased,” said Bradley. “We score every six plays. That was our average.

“Friendship Christian had a good-sized defense, which is something we might see (in Class 3A/4A).”

Both the Commanders and the Patriots are now Class 2A programs (moving up from Class 1A), while the Eagles reside in 3A in the new six-classification set-up. FCS was the 1A state runner-up in 2006 and finished 10-2 a year ago, with its only losses coming to eventual state champion Trousdale County and to No. 1-ranked South Pittsburg in the second round of the 1A playoffs.

However, Westmoreland had success against both teams early on.

The Eagles scored on their sixth play, on a 9-yard touchdown run by senior Cody Green. Green and quarterback Caleb Smith had first-down runs on the two prior plays.

Smith completed passes to seniors Dex Sadler and Cody Scruggs after that, but Smith’s pass into the end zone on the 10th and final play was broken up.

The Eagles didn’t allow a touchdown on their first defensive series against White House Heritage, but Friendship Christian victimized the Westmoreland defense for four first downs and three touchdowns on the ensuing 10 plays. Commander quarterback Lee Maasen threw to John Markham for an 18-yard touchdown. Maasen also had a tackle-breaking, 40-yard scoring scamper, and Markham ran 17 yards for the third touchdown.

(2 of 2)

“Our secondary is our backbone,” pointed out Bradley, whose program finished 10-2 a year ago (reaching the second round of the 2A playoffs before falling at Boyd-Buchanan). “Our secondary is our strong point, and a couple of times, we had some breakdowns, not staying with our man long enough. That’s easy to fix. That’s our most experienced group on the field.”

However, the Eagles made the going tougher as the first-team defense’s final three series were considerably better, one of which resulted in no points (though the Patriot first-team offense did score on its final two possessions).

Westmoreland senior defensive back Michael Johnson had a pair of tackles for losses on the series in which White House Heritage didn’t score, and senior linebacker Josh Champion ended that series by hitting the Patriot quarterback as he was handing off, causing a fumble on the final play of the possession.

Eagle junior lineman Matt Rollin also had a tackle for a loss later in the scrimmage, and sophomore defensive back Zach Lo had an interception for Westmoreland.

White House Heritage quarterback John Moore had a 16-yard touchdown run against the Commanders, and he also ripped off a 34-yard scoring jaunt on his squad’s final offensive series against the host squad.

Patriot quarterback Cameron Vitulli also threw a touchdown, a 15-yarder to Dakota Brant.

Green and junior quarterback Michael Tolley had first-down runs on the Eagle first-team offense’s second series, and Tolley eventually scored on a 1-yard keeper. That 10-play series ended with Vitulli’s interception in the end zone, on a pass intended for tight end Derrick Stamps.

Smith kept the football around the left end on Westmoreland’s third first-team possession and made a late pitch to a trailing Johnson, resulting in a 20-yard gain. That set up Green’s 7-yard scoring run.

Sadler also caught passes of 10 and 19 yards, making a leaping grab before he was tackled at the 1 yard line on the final play of the series.

Sadler finished with five receptions for 45 yards.

Green’s 15-yard dash set up the final Eagle touchdown, Tolley’s 8-yard run off right tackle.

In junior-varsity action, Westmoreland junior defensive back Ethan Bell recovered an FCS fumble, and sophomore defensive back David Sanders intercepted a Commander pass.

However, the Eagles’ second-team offense in the scrimmage wasn’t able to score, due in part to three interceptions.

Westmoreland freshman quarterback Wyatt Carter appeared to have thrown a touchdown pass to Logan Troutt late in the scrimmage, but Troutt was ruled out of the back of the end zone.

Carter reached the end zone moments later on a run, and Carter also threw a touchdown pass to freshman split end Spencer Hodge on the final play of the scrimmage.

The Eagles travel to Clarksville next Friday for a scrimmage against Northwest.

Westmoreland opens its season on Aug. 28, at East Literature.

No comments: