By DAVID GRAVELY
SWT Sports Editor
The 2013 Cougar football team took the field for the first time Friday night, as they hosted a controlled scrimmage against Magna Vista.
The junior varsity squad got the event started, and they started things off with a bang. After holding the Warriors to no minimal gains on their first two plays, a hard hit popped the ball loose and Bradley Church recovered the fumble. The Warriors continued to struggle against the hard hitting Cougar defense. Unable to gain positive yardage on their first offensive series, Magna Vista turned the ball over without scoring on their first 15 plays. Their final offensive play was a pass attempt that was intercepted by safety Landon Lawson. Church, Tyler Sechrist, and Sam Grissom all turned in notable performances.
The JV offense took their turn on the field next, and after testing the waters with the running game Lawson sent a pass to Hunter Thomas for a 32-yard touchdown. During the same drive Lawson also completed a 20-yard pass to wide-out Elliot Brewster, who made an acrobatic one-handed catch to make the play.
The Warriors found a hole in the Cougar defense to move the ball to the Pulaski 8-yard line, but after three attempts to score were again denied the end zone.
Pulaski scored another touchdown later on when Lawson found Brewster open for a 31-yard touchdown pass and catch. The offense saw good running from Thomas, Chase Huff, and Jamall Edmonds.
Defensively, the Cougar first team unit held Magna Vista scoreless. The Warriors did score on a 70-yard and 37-yard run against the second and third team defenders, but the return of the starting defense found the Warriors again going backwards. Lawson added a second interception to his list of accomplishments in the final drive, along with an interception by Brewster.
The varsity contest was highlighted by several players.
Dillon Alley finished the night with just under 200 yards of offense. On the ground he earned yardage on several runs, including a 28-yard blast and a 73-yard scamper. He added a 55-yard and a 35-yard catch to his totals.
Senior quarterback Marcus Johnston threw both of the completions to Alley. Johnston and junior Jesse Draper found the Warrior secondary to be a greedy group. Johnston finished with two interceptions thrown and Draper lost one.
Senior Brandon Jones scored the lone Pulaski touchdown of the night on a 1-yard sweep. Jones had several other solid runs while also playing well on defense. Junior Austin Harless had a deflected pass and an interception on defense, and on the offensive side added several nice runs including a 43-yard dash. Junior Marcus Payne ran for positive yardage, but his night was highlighted by a one-handed, diving interception.
The Warriors scored three times during the event, but were unable to put the ball into the end zone against the starting defense. The first came on a 63-yard run. The second score came in their next offensive series by way of a 20-yard touchdown pass. The Warriors final score of the night came after a 27-yard run moved the ball deep into Cougar territory. The scoring play was a one yard run.
“We saw some things we need to work on tonight, but we also saw some things we liked,” said Cougar Head Coach Todd Jones. “We knew Magna Vista was going to be a good team, and that’s why we wanted to scrimmage them. Good teams show you where your weak at. We’re going to take a look at the film and see what kind of adjustments we need to make. We need to get better every time we go on the field.”
The Cougars, who have only recently finished filling up their coaching staff with the additions of Christian Hall, Mike Souma, and the return of long-time assistant coach Buddy Ratcliff, will get back to work Monday in preparation for this coming Friday nights foundation game against the Giles Spartans. Gates open at 6 p.m., with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets will be $5 each, and will only be available at the gate.