The Pinecrest Academy Paladins hosted their second and final scrimmage of the preseason against Holy Innocents on Friday night. The Paladins struggled to get their offense going early, but a second half rally pushed them to a 35-21 victory.
Going into any scrimmage, every coach has particular focuses. For Pinecrest, Holy Innocents was a way to tighten up its defense against a tricky offensive scheme and iron out the kinks of its triple option attack.
“On defense, the game plan was to stop their triple option. It doesn’t matter who’s running it, it’s hard to stop.” said head coach Todd Winter. “I was pretty happy with the overall defense.”
They executed their defensive game plan to a tee. In the first half, Holy Innocents only scraped together 35 rushing yards on 13 attempts.
The Golden Bears found offensive success in their passing game. Pinecrest crowded the box, leaving the wide receiver spread wide in one-on-one coverage. Golden Bears quarterback Guillermo Granier flicked the ball on a screen pass to receiver Mykel Tubbs time and time again. They ran that screen pass six times, earning 87 yards.
“They were just running a little hitch, and it’s tough because we could have done things to take that away,” said Winter, “but because they run the option, we would really weaken ourselves on the run.”
Holy Innocents rode that play to the first touchdown of the game, which was a quick pass to Tubbs to cap off the 65-yard drive.
On the offensive end, Pinecrest continually shot themselves in the foot. Their first drive of the game resulted in a quick turnover, and consequent drives garnered big yards but did not end in points because of continual penalties.
The Paladins’ first points of the game came off a drive where they started with just one minute on the clock. Thanks to a big hook-and-ladder play that followed a 20-yard Ryan McCarthy run, the Paladins were able to cap off their drive with a connection from McCarthy to Carson Holler as time expired.
“Offensively, we scored late in the second quarter, but we left two touchdowns on the field,” said Winter. “We kept being our own worst enemy with penalties and that one turnover.”
The one-minute drill acted as a spark plug for the Paladins’ offense. The first drive of the second half resulted in a one-yard McCarthy running touchdown that capped off a 60-yard, 10-play drive. The varsity team would score one more time on a similarly structured drive later in the third quarter that resulted in an 18-yard touchdown run from Carson Holler.
The Pinecrest varsity team exited the game with a 21-7 lead. Once the junior varsity team entered, Pinecrest let up one more touchdown and scored two more of their own.
This game was their last scrimmage before their first game of the regular season against neighbor South Forsyth on August 26.
“For us, we didn’t play our best football game,” said Winter. “The thing is, we have to get better. That’s practice, that’s execution. Overall, we have won both our scrimmages. We just have to be ready for that first game.”