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Football: Plenty for North Forsyth to learn from in scrimmage tie against Gainesville
North Forsyth's Ben Bales
North Forsyth senior quarterback Ben Bales goes to throw during the Raiders' scrimmage against Gainesville Friday, Aug. 11, 2017. - photo by Brian Paglia

The results may not count in the win/loss column, but the first scrimmage of the season signifies that high school football is officially back, and it couldn’t have come a moment sooner.

North Forsyth hosted Class 6A opponent Gainesville on Friday night, and the two teams played to a 21-21 tie through the first three quarters. When the freshmen and sophomores came in the game in the fourth, it was more of the same as the game ended in a draw.

North got on the scoreboard first in this game when Ben Bales hit Charlie Aiken on a 50-yard bomb, giving the Raiders a 7-0 lead late in the first.

Bales was impressive in this game. The senior went 16-for-30 for 244 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He connected on a few deep balls, and if the Raiders are able to have a vertical passing attack, their offense could be dangerous this season.

“Ben’s our senior leader captain,” North head coach Robert Craft said. “He’s real big for our team, and we expect big things from him. He played well at times, and he missed a few things. Really excited about his year. He’s gonna be a great leader for us and he made some clutch throws for us.”

Bales looked sharp, but he admitted he wasn’t happy about those interceptions.

“I just gotta be more careful with the ball,” Bales said. “I threw two picks, so I’m not really happy with that. I just need to be smarter with the ball, pretty much.”

Defensively, the Raiders played well, but it was difficult for them to contain the Red Elephants’ dynamic quarterback, Tre’ Luttrell. Luttrell did his best Johnny Manziel impression in the second quarter when he escaped down the right sideline then cut back all the way across the field for the final 30 yards on his way to a 72-yard touchdown run.

“He’s a good player,” Craft said. “He caused us some issues for sure, but I thought our guys did a really good job. The biggest thing is just tackling well. We had him a few times, but let him get out. We’ll clean those things up, like I just told [the team], good football teams can’t turn the ball over and we gotta tackle really well. We’ll see those things on film and hopefully make some big improvements.”

Luttrell went 16-for-27 for 215 yards with two touchdowns and an interception through the air. And he ran for 132 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

The one interception was by junior Honus Wagner, who made a spectacular play to lay out fully extended to pick off a deep ball down the middle of the field.

As is the case with any scrimmage, there is still a lot that each of these teams can improve on. Gainesville turned the ball over once, while the Raiders turned it over twice. But Craft was still pleased with what he saw from his team.

“You generally try to learn a lot from these scrimmage games,” Craft said. “There were some sloppy penalties that we made, turned the ball over, didn’t tackle the greatest, but that’s a really good football team we just played. We made some plays at times and left some plays out on the field, so we hope to make a big improvement between the first game and next game.”