Coffee County Central’s Alontae Taylor breaks up a pass against Grundy Co. during the Raiders’ first preseason scrimmage. (Staff photo by Jake Kreulen)
By Jake Kreulen, sports writer
The Coffee County Central Raiders showcased some explosiveness in Friday’s scrimmage against Grundy County, but they still played things quite close to the vest.
Coffee County Central running back Cody Howes scores a TD against Grundy Co. in the Raiders’ first preseason scrimmage. (Staff photo by Jake Kreulen)
“We kept it very vanilla and basic, which killed Matt Mueller, my defensive coordinator,” Central coach Ryan Sulkowski said. “He wanted to do a few things defensively, and we kept one (defensive scheme) on the field. We are guarding what we have and what we’ve worked on the past couple of months in preparation for our opener.”
The Raiders dominated every facet of the scrimmage, putting up six touchdowns on the evening while limiting Grundy to one scoring drive.
“What you saw offensively was about 10-percent of the playbook,” Sulkowski said. “We didn’t really break out. The kids have done a great job of learning this system and executing it.”
Cody Howes scored on Central’s first offensive play of the scrimmage on a 1sweep to the left side of the line after the Raiders recovered a bad Grundy snap at the 10-yard line. Mill Harner scored on a 22-yard run up the middle, bowling over a Grundy County defender at the goalline on the second Central possession. The extra point by Cole Hawkins, who was 4-for-4 on PATs made it 14-0.
Grundy managed a touchdown on their third possession, but the Raiders quickly responded with another tally.
Howes posted his second touchdown of the night as he scored on a 38-yard bubble screen from Jimmy Hollandsworth, who tossed a 55-yard pass to Hawkins for a score on the next Central possession.
“I’m extremely pleased, especially with our four starting receivers, and I thought Jimmy did some good things at quarterback,” Sulkowski said. “He over-fired on a couple of deep balls, but his reads were correct, and that’s what we look for.”
A pair of passes from Grant Sadler to DeAaron Rozier (70 and 19 yards, respectively) closed out the scoring.
Things were not perfect for Central as the Raiders were called for several offside penalties on defense, and a clipping penalty nullified a Howes interception return for a touchdown.
“The offside penalties are our fault as coaches,” Sulkowski said. “Apparently we haven’t worked on it as much as we should, so those type of things are on us. and on me, especially, because I haven’t harped on it. But that’s why you scrimmage. Now we can make corrections and the kids can see it on film. The personal foul and the block in the back … you get somebody out here hitting someone for the first time since last October or November when they played Tullahoma? They were excited and I expected some dumb penalties. We addressed personal fouls and I can assure you that we’ll be a disciplined football team.
“But again, it’s a scrimmage and you fix what’s broken and you fix what isn’t clicking on all cylinders.”
While Central controlled the entire contest, Sulkowski told his team that while the scrimmage was important, it didn’t count.
“The first thing I said when we went into the locker room (after the game) was, ‘Keep it in perspective. You didn’t win a Super Bowl or anything, and you didn’t officially score,’” said Sulkowski. “This didn’t have any impact on the numbers in the right and left columns, meaning wins and losses. But we got what we wanted out of it, and you take it in stride.
“Ultimately, we’re satisfied with the work that we put in tonight.”
Next up for the Raiders is a scrimmage against Richland at 7 p.m. Friday.