By PATRICK MacCOON
DALTON, Ga. — Preseason football scrimmages give coaches an opportunity to sort out position battles and gain steam for the regular season, while also giving …
By PATRICK MacCOON
DALTON, Ga. — Preseason football scrimmages give coaches an opportunity to sort out position battles and gain steam for the regular season, while also giving fans glimpses of upcoming stars under the Friday night lights.
For Walker Valley’s Zeke Westfield and Cleveland’s Micaleous Elder, both put on a show in the Peach State at the Southeastern 7-on-7 tournament this weekend.
While the fourth or fifth receiving option for the Mustangs last season, the 6-foot-5 Westfield seems to have come into his full potential.
In the course of eight games the two-time all-state track athlete put his wheels, hops and hands on full display as he reeled in 17 touchdowns. He scored four touchdowns in each win against Murray County and Coahulla Creek.
“We expect big things from Kolten Gibson and Zeke Westfield through the air,” WVHS head coach Glen Ryan said. “Zeke is an exceptional guy, but we have to have three concerns at receiver because teams will be able to stop one if they really want to.”
Gibson threw for 27 touchdowns and four interceptions, as each scrimmage was 25 minutes long with a running clock until the final minute.
For Micaleous Elder, the Blue Raiders jack-of-all-trades on offense displayed exactly how versatile he can be.
After averaging over 10 yards per carry last season in the backfield, CHS’ strongest pound-for-pound athlete reeled in 10 touchdowns.
A quick burst, which registered at 4.37 in the 40-yard dash at a recent University of Tennessee camp, and juke moves helped Elder run free over numerous opponents.
“We’ve got Micaleous at athlete so to speak,” CHS head coach Scott Cummings said. “He is a threat all over the field and really is going to be able to do a lot of things for us out of the backfield and as a slot receiver this season.”
Cleveland finished the weekend action 3-5 overall with wins over Murray County, Christian Heritage and Walker Valley.
Losses came against Ryle, Dalton, East Hall, Sacred Heart-Griffin and North Forsyth.
The Southeastern tournament consisted of 18 teams from four different states and was hosted at Dalton and North Murray High School as well as Lakeshore Park.
“In the state of Tennessee with us not being able to do team vs. team (7-on-7) stuff in the month of June handicaps us a little bit because all of the Georgia teams and other states do this through June, too,” Cummings said. “So their defensive backs know where they are supposed to be on route reading and other things. For us this is our first time out here against another team.”
Emerging 6-foot-3 sophomore Robert Flowers was able to make his presence felt in multiple ways.
The Blue Raider was second on his team in catches and finished with five touchdown receptions to go with three interceptions at cornerback.
Flowers scored twice from 40 yards out against Walker Valley and also had an interception in a 36-14 beat down Saturday morning.
“Robert in the spring was lining up at quarterback in a scrimmage against Baylor and now he’s at receiver and corner,” Cummings said. “We only have a few kids that are getting reps on both sides of the ball. For him to be a sophomore getting that is pretty special.
“He’s got good hands, ball skills and he’s long. As he continues to grow, he will be an outstanding player for us.”
Kellye Cawood put forth a strong weekend and looks to have a leg-up on the starting quarterback gig for CHS, who went through five different quarterbacks due to injuries last season.
With a powerful arm the former South Pittsburg signal caller threw for 15 touchdowns and two interceptions. He had 40-yard touchdown strikes to Keegan Jones, Flowers and Elder in the victory over Walker Valley, which at one point was 30-2 in favor of the Blue Raiders.
Backup quarterback Jackson Moore led several impressive scoring drives and will be worked in to the outside linebacker position in the coming weeks.
Jones scored four touchdowns from 40 yards out, which is where the ball was spotted for each drive in the 7-on-7 scrimmages.
Junior defensive back David Dorsey provided strong coverage in CHS’ secondary along with Logan Stutzman.
Standout senior Romeo Wykle (WR/S) sat out with a tweaked ankle, but expects to be back for Tuesday’s 7-on-7 at Chattanooga Central starting at 6 p.m.
With a herd of colts making their first starts on the defensive side of the football, the Mustangs struggles primarily came on the defensive side.
Walker Valley finished the weekend 2-6 overall.
“We found some young guys that showed some promise, but we just have to get better on defense,” Coach Ryan said. “We lost all of our linebackers and secondary from last year. We have to find those guys to make it their spot and go out and take it.”
Meanwhile, Westfield was the only receiver with any varsity experience.
However, newcomers Luke Wallace and Brock Gibson combined for seven touchdowns over eight games.
Former lineman Sam Clements also caught two touchdowns in a single game and finished with three scores and double-digit catches.
“We have to get Luke and Brock into a more consistent flow, but they are making strong strides,” Ryan said. “Sam is at a new position too, but he’s a good enough athlete to handle it. We just need them to keep getting better and understand the scheme and how to box out.”
Three of Gibson’s turnovers came as a result of dropped passes. The reigning 4-5A region Player of the Year has 6,058 passing yards with 63 touchdown passes headed into his final prep season.
The Mustangs will hit the road for its last 7-on-7 contest at Bearden Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
“We get to put on the helmets and shoulder pads Monday at practice for the first time this summer,” Ryan said. “We have to really focus on fundamentals and for our players to make breaks on the football. We have to play forward and play aggresive.”
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