BLUEFIELD — Bluefield College held its final scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday evening at Mitchell Stadium in preparation for the school’s first football campaign in 71 years.
The squad scrimmaged for two timed quarters, then the remainder of the time was spent on situation plays.
Josh Wells scored the first touchdown, a 1-yard run for the Blue team. Following a 20-yard field goal by Mikel Hawks for the White team, Blue quarterback Cory Mabry jaunted 33 yards for a score and Hawks added the PAT.
With Greg Hampton at the controls the Blue added another score when Hampton connected with Bland County Bear Dylan Kidd on a 50-yard pass play. The kick by Caleb Frye failed. The final score of the time scrimmage came when Mabry passed 32 yards to Nick Exposito for paydirt. Again the kick failed. Final score for those keeping tally, Blue 25, White 3.
Rams coach Mike Gravier was optimistic following the two-and-a-half hour session.
“I thought we did a good job,” Gravier said. “We went ones against twos, so we anticipated a lot of success with the first team offense against the No. 2 defense and we got it and it would have been very disappointing if we didn’t.
“It was good from an offensive coach’s standpoint to see the No. 2s move the ball, which makes me think our defense made some mistakes and we’ve got to shore that up a little bit.
“Overall I thought the effort was great. Our kids flew around and did a great job, which is what we demand of them and expect of them.”
While the Rams lined up with three receivers and one running back, it was the running backs that caught the attention of fans and the coaching staff, namely Wells and Marion Harris. Both players had several significant size runs and it did not go unnoticed by the BC head coach.
“Josh (Wells) is a special kid,” Gravier said. “He’s one of the fastest on our team and he’s also one of the strongest. He’s a guy that’s going to break tackles and have the speed to break away and make some plays. We’re excited to have both he and Marion Harris. Marion has some great speed as well. They are a great one-two combination because they are very different backs.”
It was the offensive line that enabled the runs and Gravier praised the big guys up front.
“I thought they (the offensive line) did a great job getting out in front of the runs and making some plays and breaking us loose,” Gravier observed. “We scored with the No. 1s every time we were in the red zone and that’s important to do and a lot of that lies on the offensive line.”
With a week to go before the opening game, the starting quarterback job is still undecided. Hampton, Mabry and Austin Van Es all took snaps and according to Gravier performed well, but there were problems with the receivers.
“My disappointment is we had a lot of dropped balls,” Gravier said. “We just can’t be doing that because they (quarterbacks) do make plays and they drop the ball, then the confidence goes down. We need to make sure we’re keeping those quarterbacks positive and confident and eager to make those throws.
“I’m going to watch the film and see who did the best. Hopefully we’re way ahead against Pikeville where we can get them all in the game and get them game experience because that’s really what they need now. They need to do it under fire. Practice is controlled. They need to see it with the live bullets flying.”
Defensively there was plenty of blitzing and swarming to the ball. Gravier attributed that to the style of play demanded by defensive coordinator Stacey Hairston.
“That’s our M.O.,” Gravier said. “Coach Hairston wants to pressure the quarterback. We had several sacks today and some interceptions that were the result of the blitz.
“We want to be aggressive defensively and make things happen on defense, just like on offense. That’s the way we’re going to be. We’re going to be an attacking defense and when you do that, you do sometimes give up the big plays, but we’ve just got to be sure we make the tackle and not give up the touchdown.”
With less than a week until its first game, Gravier and the BC staff are going to work on developing the team’s depth chart, much of it based on the performance in this scrimmage.
Asked what was the most impressive aspect of the scrimmage Gravier said, “We thought we could run the ball and that’s something we didn’t do very well last year. It’s good to see some long runs and some nice, sustained drives.
“The other thing we didn’t do a very good job last year was in the red zone. Again, for the No. 1s to score every time we were down there, especially in short yardage, for the O-line to fire off, and Josh (Wells) is obviously a big back, so he’s going to move the pile, and Marion (Harris) is going to hit the corner and get to the edge. I was pleased.”
Bluefield College plays its first varsity game in 70 years, Saturday against Pikeville. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Mitchell Stadium.
— Contact Bob Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org