Carroll County put together a pair of goal line stands and Brennan Vaught scored on a 27-yard touchdown run Friday to highlight the Cavaliers’ four-team scrimmage with James River, Auburn and Rural Retreat in Hillsville.
When the number one offenses were on the field, the Cavaliers scored one touchdown against Rural Retreat and surrendered one touchdown and one field goal against Auburn. But Carroll County head coach Eddie Sloss came away mostly pleased with what he saw out of his young team.
“We had some missed alignments and we got outflanked a couple of times just because we didn’t get to where we should have gotten, so we are going to hit that hard next week. We still have a lot of young kids who are not getting lined up the right way, so we had to several times stop the play or after the play was over get them lined back up and teach. And that is what I wanted with this scrimmage,” Sloss said. “I told all the other coaches I wanted to be able to stop and line them back up and that is exactly what all the coaches did…but yeah, we stiffened up down there (at the goal line) and that was good. I thought that showed some heart and grit. I am pleased.”
Carroll’s first-team units started the day against James River. Neither first-team unit scored against the other team’s first-team defense. But the Cavaliers came up strong after a 30-yard run set the Knights up at the Carroll 5. The Cavs made four straight stops from that point, including a fumble recovery at the one.
Carroll’s defense had a harder time stopping Auburn’s physical offensive line and bruising fullback Jeremy Nelson, who set a school record as a sophomore last season with 1,732 yards rushing in the regular season. Nelson scored on a five-yard touchdown run against Carroll’s second defense, but the Cavaliers’ starting unit held the Eagles to a field goal on the final five plays from the 40.
“The teams we had here today, we had a really good James River team, a Division II team who for years has had a very competitive team. Then Auburn obviously is a very physical team. We wanted to play Auburn because of that,” Sloss said. “And then Rural Retreat has a sound football team and I thought we did well there. What people see in the stands when we played Auburn, we had their ones versus our twos and so that kind of got mixed up. I wasn’t about to put my ones versus their ones. I just made a point to tell the guys, this is practice. We are not here to beat Auburn. We are here to practice and learn and that gave some of these twos to see how they could play against another team’s ones. For the first five plays we had our twos in and they did well. And of course they got three or four yards a chunk, but then we tightened up down there and then we brought our ones in and they ended up scoring, but I don’t care. It’s not about that. That is why I don’t have the scoreboard on today. It’s about correcting mistakes and getting lined up.”
Offensively, Carroll ran for 16 yards on six runs against Auburn and completed two passes for 28 yards on the Eagles. Logan Cole had a nice 15-yard pass to Chase Robinson during the set, while Tristen Ousley hooked up with Austin Carico on a 13-yard completion. Ousley also had a 10-yard run against Auburn.
In the final scrimmage of the day against Rural Retreat, the Indians needed seven plays to go from the Cavalier 40 down to the 7, but again the Carroll defense held strong, recovering a fumble in the red zone.
“We had a Wing-T and then we had a version of Wing-t that did a lot of jet sweep where you had one wing-t basically up the gut, trap and belly. And then the other Wing-t that was a lot of perimeter stuff, pass and stuff like that. And then we had an option team which is really kind of hard to base an opinion off a scrimmage where you scrimmage three completely different teams. I was pleased,” Sloss said of the offenses Carroll faced. “I thought the kids competed hard…We are still playing techniques and some reads and all of that kind of stuff. I was pleased. The effort was there and we saw a lot of things we needed to see.”
The Cavs ran six times for 48 yards against Rural Retreat’s starting defense, including Vaught’s 27-yard touchdown run on a sweep to the left. Carroll also threw a pair of interceptions total against the three teams.
“Offensively, I think we are right on schedule right now. Offense usually at this point in the game is usually behind the defense a little bit,” Sloss said. “But I think the offense is right on schedule. We had some missed snaps and some miscues, but we want that stuff to happen so we can correct it and hopefully be ready for next week. I really felt like they didn’t care who was on the other side of the football. Auburn had some big old boys, but I don’t think it fazed my guys at all. They stepped up to the challenge against a physical offensive line and a big bruising fullback. He is a good fullback, but I really felt like my guys didn’t back down. I felt like they fought through it and that is all I could ask for. There were some good football teams today and I thought we competed well with all three of them.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN