BY CORY WOODROOF
The summer sun has set on the first WillCo/RuCo Jamboree, with Friday’s night two on Rutherford County’s side of the fence at Oakland High School in the books.
The official wins tally says it’s Williamson County who gets to hold bragging rights, for now.
Brentwood, Franklin, Independence and Fairview all took down their RuCo opponents (Riverdale, Stewarts’ Creek, LaVergne, Cascade), giving the county four wins. Nolensville also beat inter-county competition Centennial. For Rutherford, Blackman, Oakland and Siegel got wins, giving them three.
We’ll see how these teams shake out when the scores start counting toward the official record.
But, for now, hoist it proudly, WillCo, you got the best of your new county rivals.
Brentwood shows out against Riverdale; QB battle still up in air
It felt like you could see the 2018 Brentwood Bruins progressing right before your eyes into something fierce in the night’s first scrimmage.
The Bruins sprinted past Riverdale 35-0, with the Bruins’ first team flashing plenty of pluses and few minuses in a showing that will surely have coach Ron Crawford happy with what he’s got to work with for 2018, particularly with such a young defense.
An easy early highlight was a deep ball to senior wideout Avery Williams from senior quarterback Dylan Stevens that gave the Brentwood starters their first score of the night. To boot, senior WR/RB Carter McKechnie had a long gain close to the quarter change that set up the Bruins for a McKechnie touchdown from Stevens at the top of the second quarter.
On defense, the Bruins first team did let up some yardage from the Warriors but held twice in red zone situations in the first quarter. Call it the bend-but-don’t-break approach. That’s what you want to see from your main guys on the depth chart.
As the second quarter went on, sophomore QB Cade Granzow capped a scoring drive with a rushing touchdown to give the Bruins a 21-0 advantage. The young signal caller put up a second touchdown a bit later on a long ball to junior WR Chayce Bishop. Stevens iced the Brentwood victory with a third touchdown throw to junior WR Garner Jones to close out the scrimmage.
Oh, if you haven’t heard, Stevens and Granzow are still battling for the starting role. Thursday’s scrimmage didn’t exactly help steer one or the other ahead of the pack, though both showed plenty of promise.
So, with the season approaching, who’s Crawford going to choose?
The Bruins head coach cautions assumptions he’s going to use just one guy to start things out.
“No, we don’t have to pick one – we sure don’t,” Crawford said. “The reality of it is, both of them have done some good things…right now, we’re going to plan on still playing both of them. I don’t know how else we can evaluate this week. We’ve evaluated three scrimmages, and a jamboree, and we’ll try to make the best decision based upon that.”
To Crawford, each guy has a reason to stake claim over the top job.
“Each of them can do different things,” Crawford said. “Obviously, the ceiling for Granzow is extremely high. He just needs experience. Dylan Stevens is one of those kids, man, he’s just been in our program. How do you not love a guy like that that hangs around, and learns what to do, and learns how to execute, believes in himself. Obviously, we love them all, but right now, one of them has got to take it. I can pick one and put him out there, but one of them needs to win it.
“Right now, we’re going to roll with both of them, and see what happens.”
We’ll see how Crawford lets the battle wade out as Brentwood heads into week one against Franklin Aug. 17.
Franklin shows resilience on outrageous conversion
After Stewarts’ Creek got off to a quick 6-0 start on Franklin in game two of the scrimamges, the Rebels didn’t seem like they were going to put up any highlights. Things were a bit slow for the visiting WillCo team.
But, then, a fourth-and-26 happened.
Yes, fourth down, and twenty-six yards to go. For most high school teams in a scrimmage, that’s a chance to test out the punt unit and see where things went wrong, particularly when the drive began in the red zone. Not for Franklin and senior quarterback Josh Nichols, though.
In no man’s land, Nichols found junior wide receiver Chancellor Bright for a long pass that the wideout converted for a staggering first down. The wild play set up senior running back Matt Gaca to punch in Franklin’s first points of the evening and helped them nab a 7-6 win over the host team.
So, about that fourth and 26 conversion.
Franklin head coach Donnie Webb’s seen this before, in a way.
“I remember one last year,” Webb said with a laugh, remembering that as an impossible third and long that was converted against McGavock.
“We were very sloppy, and that’s why you end up in fourth and 26,” Webb said. “Proud to keep battling.”
The Rebels’ defense quietly had a nice night out, as they tightened up after an early Red Hawks score to keep the home team scoreless for the game’s duration.
“[The defense is] coached by coach Andrew Holcomb, who does just a tremendous job with those guys,” Webb said.
“In the first [score], [Stewarts’ Creek] was in a funky formation, got us outflanked, and then we didn’t tackle very well, and that’s why it busted. That’s part of the game.
“[Holcomb] will have those guys ready, and we’re going to lean on our defense. We’re expecting them to be good and give us an opportunity.”
Franklin will hope to spark more fourth and 26 magic as they get underway with the season at Brentwood next Friday.
Page finds ways offense can improve in defensive scrimmage against Siegel
If you like defense, then Page/Siegel was the scrimmage for you Friday night.
The rival defenses didn’t let either team do a whole lot in a scrimmage that didnt’ see many fireworks on offense until junior Page QB Cade Walker threw a deep pass to sophomore wideout Michael Burdick into Siegel’s red zone.
Being the game that it is, the drive ended in a missed field goal. Such is life.
As the scrimmage wore on, Page’s offense found no additional luck trying to score on the home team. A last-second touchdown from the Siegel reserves gave them the advantage, 14-0.
While the Patriots didn’t make it down to collect seven Friday night, Page head coach Charles Rathbone says he feels they were close.
“We had some shots offensively that if we connect on, we score,” Rathbone said. “We had some opportunities [to find success].”
The coach says he’s homed in on what the big focus needs to be for Page
“We can throw the ball; we know we can throw the ball,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to run the ball. If you look at the yardage tonight, we’d be negative in running the ball…that’s what we’ve got to figure out.”
The Pats open the season against Fairview Aug. 17, though where that exactly might be is up in the air. The team’s new turf field might not be ready in time for the opener, though Rathbone gave his vote of confidence that everything should be shipshape just in time for football.
“We think they’re going to be done with the field, but it’s going to be right up to that time,” Rathbone said.
Ravenwood dukes it out with Oakland
To close the night, two state powerhouses put on the boxing gloves for one of those scrimmages where it helps that both teams were wearing different uniforms.
If they weren’t, it’d have been hard to tell where Ravenwood began and Oakland ended.
That’s what happens when you throw two of the best teams in the state in a scrum.
Rutherford’s own Patriots struck first in the first quarter, but one of Ravenwood’s scout teams led by reserve QB Trevor Andrews was able to level the playing field in the second.
Though, the home venue got the last push on a closing field goal to give them a 10-7 advantage. But, if the first teams had stayed in, we’d be telling a different, and much more eventual (and higher-scoring), tale.
Ravenwood coach Matt Daniels spoke to why his team might’ve kept things more civil than usual.
“You know, it was kind of funny; I talked to Coach [Kevin] Creasy [of Oakland] before the game,” Daniels said. “We both harped on, ‘Let’s just keep our guys safe. Let’s try to get through that first quarter with the varsity guys and keep everybody safe. We both kind of agreed to keep it vanilla, and we don’t want to show our competition too much.’
“It was kind of a gentleman’s match tonight, and I think both sides are hoping that we see each other again in the first week of December.”
Ravenwood’s climb begins with a road trip to Centennial next week.