With a little over two weeks left before the 2014 football season gets underway, Cleveland tackled Baylor in the Blue Raiders’ second scrimmage of the preseason.
Coming in as the top-ranked team in the District 5-AAA media poll and second in the District 5-AAA coaches poll, the Blue Raiders got in what head coach Ron Crawford considered a good day’s work.
The evening at Benny Monroe Stadium began with special teams drills during which senior punter Zach Lee was able to steal the show with a solid outing — including an impressive 55-yard punt.
Lee, who made Murphy Fair’s 5A preseason All-State Team, currently has a 4.5 star rating (out of 5) according to kohlskicking.com and is one of the top punters for the class of 2015 in the country.
Recruited from the soccer program, kickers Brandon Romero and Rosmel Gallo posted strong performances, each hitting nine of their attempted 10 field goals.
Once the 11-on-11 portion of the scrimmage began, senior quarterback Austin Massey was able to demonstrate his understanding of the Raiders’ offense.
“He’s just got to continue to improve on a daily basis and understand what we’re asking him to do. When he has an opportunity to make a play with his feet he (is capable), so he can do that when he has the chance,” Crawford stated.
Despite one bad decision, Massey was able to recover and move the team downfield.
Sophomore QB Dallas McCrary also got some good looks during the scrimmage.
Seniors T.J. Parker, Eric Goodwin and Rod Dennard all showcased their skills Wednesday, with senior Isaiah Beaty looking solid as well until he was sidelined with an injury.
Freshman Keegan Jones looked to pick up where his brother D.J. Jones left off, and accounted for two touchdowns during the scrimmage.
“He is one of those freshman that can contribute early. I think today (Wednesday) was a good sample of what he is capable of doing. He just has to settle in, because he missed a week with an injury,” Crawford explained.
Overall, Coach Crawford was pleased with the improvements he saw in the team’s effort.
“I thought we tackled better than our first scrimmage and continued to schematically work on some things that they hurt us with,” Crawford commented. “We’ve got some banged-up kids, so we played most of the scrimmage with 2’s and 3’s at corner, and they got exposed a bit, so they got to improve and may have to play for us in the opening game. Offensively, we finally found our running game, but still have to find more depth at wide receiver.”
Cleveland’s next scrimmage will be on Tuesday, as the Raiders host Rhea County.
The Raiders close out their preseason at the Chattanooga area Prep Football Jamboree at Finley Stadium on Aug. 15.