Denmark and Sequoyah waited out a lengthy weather delay, and then the Chiefs waited out the Danes starters to grab a late 13-7 win during a preseason scrimmage Friday in Cherokee County.
Following a nearly 90-minute wait for the opening kickoff due to a slow-moving storm cell that caused North Forsyth and West Forsyth to postpone their preseason scrimmages to Monday evening, Denmark mostly controlled proceedings with the starters and second-stringers in the game.
“We just handled it,” Danes head coach Mike Palmieri said of the delay. “The kids were ready to play, and [Sequoyah] had the same delay.
“It was something that we wanted to play tonight and get them some experience. We got everybody in the game, which was great today.”
While Denmark scored the only points of the opening half, Sequoyah found the end zone twice during a running-clock fourth quarter after both teams had emptied their benches.
“I thought we played pretty good,” Palmieri said. “It was our first real contact. These kids haven’t even really been hitting in practice. I thought our first two groups did really well. We did some good things.
“We made some mistakes that cost us a little bit on offense, with some penalties. But we’ll fix that.”
As Palmieri noted, a few unfortunate breaks, some admittedly self-inflicted, caused promising drives to stall. There were two missed field goals — both more than 40 yards out — and an interception thrown at the goal line.
Overall, though, the Danes looked explosive on offense.
Quarterback Jacob Nelson finished 7-for-17 passing for 137 yards, but that line is misleading due to the number of big plays that got wiped away.
A 34-yard completion to Lake Thoman on the second play of the game was taken away for a penalty, as was a fourth-down conversion pass to tight end Brendan Hester later on the same drive.
In the waning moments of the first half, a potential huge gain by Kohl Yearwood was blown dead, because the officials ruled that Nelson was touched before he let the pass go. (In the scrimmage, the quarterbacks were declared down as soon as a defender touched them.)
“Jacob did well,” Palmieri said of the junior second-year starter. “I thought we did well offensively. We moved the ball well. We had some penalties here and there, but we saw what we see out of Jacob. Good football player, and I think we have a good football team.”
Nelson did a nice job distributing the ball to his playmakers. He lofted a beautiful ball into the back corner of the end zone, where Thoman made an acrobatic catch with one foot landing in bounds.
The 16-yard touchdown came on a third-and-13 play with eight minutes left in the second quarter.
“They’re all good players,” Palmieri said of his skill-position guys. “It’s going to be hard to cover those kids. We don’t have one guy we throw to. We throw to everybody. We’ve got great backs. We have a really good tight end now.
“We just have to keep building.”
Starting running back Amon Williams racked up 49 yards on eight carries. Anias Blackman stepped up and contributed several impressive runs, totaling 29 yards on four carries during a second-quarter series.
“Amon only played a couple of series — a little bit in the first half and then one [series] in the second half,” Palmieri said. “Blackman came in and ran the ball pretty well. We’ve got some other guys who can run the ball, but we didn’t put them in there.”
Defensively, Denmark showed that this year’s team can challenge for the top spot in Class 7A in terms of fewest points allowed. In 2021, the Danes placed second in that category by limiting opponents to just over 13 points per game.
Sequoyah, a member of Region 6-6A that opens the regular season against Lambert Aug. 19 at home, matched that number during the scrimmage. But that necessitated Denmark removing its starters (and the officials not letting the hosts attempt an extra point following their go-ahead touchdown with 1:19 left).
It was a particularly noteworthy showing by the Danes when considering the uniqueness of the Chiefs’ wing-T offense in this day and age.
“Our starters were very sharp today for playing that type of offense,” Palmieri said. “We didn’t really practice against that too much. Our first two groups did pretty well. We put some really young kids in there — who didn’t even really practice against that [offense] — towards the end, but they deserved to play. They played hard, too.”
Having been the only local team to get its scrimmage in Friday night, Denmark will enjoy a full two-week ramp up for its regular-season opener Aug. 19 at Roswell.
“Just keep lifting, keep getting stronger,” Palmieri said of what his team will be focusing on in the coming weeks. “Keep working on the little things in practice. Hopefully in two weeks, we’ll be a lot better.”