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AYDEN — A late audible to the Beddingfield High scrimmage schedule had it staying a little closer to home — but not too close — Friday night.
Originally scheduled to take part in scrimmage action at Elizabeth City Northeastern, the Bruins opted to do an about face after anticipated humidity in the area pushed what was already going to be a late arrival time back even further. That, coupled with playing many of the same teams Beddingfield saw Wednesday at Riverside Martin, inspired the Bruins to take a detour to Ayden-Grifton for a four-team affair with Winterville South Central, Bertie and the host Chargers.
“Coming in, I was very nervous,” second-year Beddingfield head coach James Ward said. “This was our first time ever doing two scrimmages. Last year was our first time scrimmaging in five years! So to survive two without any injuries, we feel very blessed and fortunate.”
Beddingfield faced Ayden-Grifton of the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference for alternating 10-play sessions on offense and defense as well as South Central, a 4-A member of the split 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference. The Bruins finished the evening with a 25-minute live session against Bertie with a running clock and chain crew.
“Defensively, we did good,” Ward assessed. “Offensively, we sputtered at times. We’ve got to get some consistency with our quarterback play; we really do.”
The trio of Zion Hinnant, sophomore Garritt Harris and Jalen Harris took snaps for the Bruins. Against Bertie, the Bruins scored on a touchdown burst from junior Jalil Hutcherson, who had his moments getting free in space. However, issues handling the snap pestered the Bruins.
“This time last year, I felt a little better offensively-wise,” Ward said. “Defensively, I feel a whole lot better than I did last year. But we’ve got to go; we’ve got to find a quarterback. It’s time for somebody to step up between now and Thursday. When I go to bed Thursday night, I’m going to know who my quarterback is Friday morning.”
In the final minute of the Bertie scrimmage, Beddingfield’s secondary gave up its lone score on a short toss that led to a long touchdown run. On defense, the Bruins could be bolstered even further if junior lineman Darryll Malachi obtains medical clearance. No touchdowns were produced against Ayden-Grifton or South Central in the 10-play segments, but the Bruins’ defense didn’t allow a score either.
“We moved the ball,” Ward said of his offense. “We just didn’t score.”
The Bruins play host to Oxford Webb next Friday.
WARRIORS ANSWER QUESTIONS
At Cleveland, Hunt emerged with a break-even proposition, scoring three touchdowns and allowing three TDs in alternating 10-play series against Cary Green Hope, Southern Durham and the host Rams.
No live-game situations with a chain crew were conducted, said third-year Hunt head coach Keith Byrum.
“Overall, I think it was pretty good,” Byrum said of Hunt’s outing. “We came home and nobody got hurt. That’s a gigantic positive. We played three good football teams and we came home healthy.”
Hunt scored touchdowns against all three opponents, with Byrum praising the productivity of the run game and the development of the Warriors’ youthful offensive line under Richie Pridgen.
“We were running the ball consistently for three, four and five yards,” Byrum described. “That doesn’t happen if the holes weren’t there.”
All three Hunt quarterbacks accounted for a TD during action. Versus Cleveland, senior Nathan Lemons got free and scored on a bootleg. The Green Hope session saw senior passer Andrew Jones, by the goal line, throw a pass in the flat to senior Sebastian Arias. Arias took on a pair of Green Hope defenders and barreled into the end zone.
Scrimmage activity concluded on a positive note for the Warriors, with the new Hunt quarterback in junior Dalton Garwood finding senior Elijah Anderson on a 35-yard catch-and-run. Southern Durham, due to mounting injuries, cut the final session short.
After struggling a bit in the preseason versus Cleveland in 7-on-7 drills that favor the offense, Hunt’s secondary rebounded against Cleveland. Byrum praised the work of his secondary, including junior Tiquez Taylor, senior Isaiah Watson and senior Jihren Strickland. Junior defensive end Kendrick Hocutt logged quality snaps moving into the starting lineup due to injury. Senior Christian Phaby was disruptive lining up at both end and tackle.
In the 10-play format and in the absence of first downs, Byrum’s offense largely disdained chunk plays and opted to grind out positive yardage.
“In these 10 plays, we were just running our stuff,” Byrum said. “If we were trying to pick up first downs, the chains would have been moving. ... If the markers were up, we would have had a lot more opportunities. The format was what it was. I was proud of the coaches for not getting all wrapped up in it.”
Hunt, coming off a pair of 3-8 campaigns, opens at Eastern Wayne next Friday.
“Most of the answers we got were good ones,” Byrum assured.”