Cherokee County football teams got a chance to put their spring work to the test last Friday at their spring scrimmages.
In the only intra-county matchup, Woodstock showed plenty of potential offensively, streaking to a 21-0 lead before hanging on to beat Sequoyah 33-19.
“I think we have some really dynamic receivers we can get the ball to when they get open,” Woodstock coach Brent Budde said. “We have to be able to protect up front and get the ball out to those guys. I think they can have a good year. We still have a few things to work out, but I think you saw the potential.”
Walker Ormsby got the start at quarterback for the Wolverines. Sebastian Moss and Brooks Bortles each impressed at receiver, and Josh Shackleford emerged as a potential anchor on an offensive line replacing four starters.
Defensively, D.J. Bynum and Jorge Torres helped stifle the Chiefs’ offense early.
“Our defense has been strong since last year,” Budde said. “We had some guys stepping in and even had some guys sitting out who would have made us even stronger up front. Overall, I thought we did well controlling our gaps and staying home against the misdirection.”
Despite the early hole, Sequoyah coach James Teter said he saw things he liked as his team fought to climb back into the game.
“We were pleased,” he said. “We got behind 21-0, but we didn’t quit. We knew we had a lot of holes to fill. Some of those were glaring, but I think we have a better idea of what we might need to do heading into the summer.”
On a Sequoyah offense looking to replace the majority of its skill potion players, Aidan Moore and Joseph Silva stepped in well to the wing spots, while Josh Estrada, Joey Jorczak and Ezekiel Quarles played well on the offensive line.
Defensively, the Chiefs were able to generate a pass rush with Harrison Hood and Avery Born.
“I thought our first group on defense did pretty well,” Teter said. “When you have that many new guys working in, you’re going to have some miscommunication. That stuff will happen, but I think we’ll be able to get it worked out in the summer.”
The county’s other two Region 6AAAAAA teams each got their new head coaches off to good starts, as Creekview beat Cass 7-6 and River Ridge beat Paulding County 17-6.
For the Grizzlies, coach Trevor Williams stayed conservative in his game plan but said he liked the way his players executed it.
“I’m proud of our kids getting ready to play in nine practices,” he said. “We stayed vanilla and stayed in our base stuff and told them we were evaluating effort first. They gave us that. They flew around and made plays on both sides of the ball.”
Ethan Dirrim and Brody Rhodes each played well at quarterback, while Tyler Stevens emerged as a weapon out of the backfield.
Hayden Thompson scored Creekview’s only touchdown in the game, and the defense, led by Parker McCrary, Jake Kaminsky, Anthony Dorr and Lake Bowman took care of the rest.
“Guys got after the football,” Williams said. “They were chasing like crazy. It’s difficult to adjust to that Wing-T stuff. We settled in and tackled pretty well eventually, though. I was proud of them.”
For the Knights, the scrimmage win was the culmination of spring practices under new coach Mike Collins.
“For me, it was a good solidification of how the spring went,” Collins said. “The guys played hard and played right. It looks like we’re heading in the right direction.”
Collins said he was impressed with how quarterback Chase Begin has continued to master the new offensive scheme.
Defensively, Justice Cromwell led a unit that allowed just one touchdown, though Collins said he was pleased with the play of the entire group.
“It was just getting a lot of hats to the football,” he said. “We came in swarming to the ball. You don’t want to be the guy who’s not giving max effort every time the ball is snapped. It started right there with guys getting to the ball. If you go out and give max effort, you can overcome a lot of things.”
Cherokee also got off to an impressive start with its 24-13 win at Alpharetta.
On offense, new starting quarterback A.J. Swann connected with Devin Ellison for a pair of touchdowns, while Keith Adams was a force out of the backfield.
“We got to see how several of our new starters performed with bullets flying in a game situation,” coach Josh Shaw said. “For A.J. Swann to go start a game and have to handle the pressure when it’s not mop-up minutes, was big. A lot of our youngsters performed under that pressure. Our goal this spring was to find where the pieces of the puzzle go, and we got a lot of those answered.”
On defense, T.J. Parks recorded a safety. Nate Muse forced a pair of turnovers, and even after the starters left the game, Shaw said he was impressed with what he saw.
“We actually have depth,” he said. “We thought we would going into the spring, but once you see them against another team, you see a lot more about them. I’m encouraged by the amount of kids we have. We think we’ll have great competition all season, and that can only help.”
Etowah got its first chance to break in its new scheme against Sprayberry, though there is still some work to do.
“I didn’t think we were physical enough,” Etowah coach Dave Svehla said. “It’s tough sometimes, because you don’t game plan to stop the team you’re scrimmaging. They showed us some stuff we hadn’t seen before, and I think it just threw us off a little bit at the beginning.”
Offensively, running back Klivert Many and center B.D. Acosta each played well, but there are still plenty of positions to be settled in the summer.
“We’re going to sit down as coaches and decide where everyone needs to go,” Svehla said. “You think you know where a kid fits, but sometimes the skill set just works better somewhere else. The goal is to have your 11 best players out there. It can be a challenge finding ways to get everyone out on the field at once.”