It’s early, early in this new season and teams are just now learning what a football looks like. But that didn’t stop Massillon and Avon from getting together to knock heads, something they’ve been doing for several years now in a first scrimmage venue. This time Avon was the host.
Both teams have achieved much success over the past few years, something that always bills this matchup as a good one. The Tigers have played in the Division 2 state finals in each of the past three years and the Eagles have won four straight regional titles in the same division. Therefore, this scrimmage gives head coaches Nate Moore and Mike Elder excellent first looks at their players against worthy opposition in order to figure out who their starters and backups will be.
The format for most of the scrimmage was such that each team ran ten plays, commencing at their own 25 yard line. If a fourth down play was called for, the team either punted or attempted a field goal and then returned to the 25 until the plays were exhausted. Throughout the affair both coaches mixed up their first and second units. The 3rd and 4th played later. Here’s a breakdown of the series for each team:
- Darrius McElroy at quarterback. Advanced to the Avon 12. Field goal was wide. Willtrell Hartson was running very effectively during this drive.
- QB Jalen Slaughter connected with Austin Brawley in the corner of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown pass. Vinny Keller kicked the extra point. The play was set up by fine end around run by Freddie Lenix, Jr.
- Ran a couple more plays to end the series.
- McElroy now at QB. Advanced to their own 30 and punted.
- Advanced to their own 39 and punted.
- Threw a 60-yard pass interception.
- Slaughter at QB. Brawley ran an end around for 74 yards and touchdown, but it was called back for holding. Punted from the 22.
- Intercepted pass.
- Advanced to their own 40 and ran out of plays.
- McElroy at QB. Advanced to their own 36 and punted.
- Advanced to the Avon 8 and ran out of plays. Keller kicked a 25-yard field goal. However, Avon was called for offsides, which negated the play. On the next try the same player was offsides, but the penalty was not called by the referee. The kick was wide owing to the interference of the player who was now literally standing next to the holder as Keller kicked the ball.
- Slaughter at QB. Advanced to the Avon 49 and punted.
- Slaughter threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Riley Campbell, who had separated from the defender. He gathered the ball at midfield and then outraced the Avon secondary to the end zone. Keller kicked the PAT.
- Total points scored: 14
- Advanced to their own 33 and punted.
- Advanced to the Massillon 40 and ran out of plays.
- Advanced to the Massillon 19 and missed a field goal. Lots of short passes underneath the coverage. Had difficulty running the ball.
- Advanced to their own 39 and punted.
- No gain and ran out of plays.
- Advanced to the Massillon 29 and kicked a 46-yard field goal. Advanced to their own 31 and punted.
- Advanced to the Massillon 45 and ran out of plays.
- Total points scored: 3
Each team then ran one series starting at the opponent’s 40.
- McElroy hit Brawley on a 34-yard TD pass.
- Kicked a 21-yard field goal.
Each team finished with a two series each starting at the opponent’s 20.
- Hartson scored on a 5-yard run, untouched as he sped through the line. Keller’s PAT attempt was good.
- McElroy tossed a 20-yard pass to wide open Campbell for a touchdown. Keller again kicked the extra point.
- Failed to move the ball.
- Kicked a 29-yard field goal.
- Rushing offense – The backs used the most were Hartson, Camden Beasley and Ressieo Kirksey. All ran hard and the line blocked for them very well given this early in the season.
- Passing offense – Both McElroy and Slaughter had their moments, but pass completions were not the main contributors to the offensive production. McElroy curtainly has the long arm, which bodes well down the road for quick touchdowns. And the faster Slaughter, while only a freshman, showed a lot of poise and made a few big plays with his arm. Brawley showed that he will give secondaries fits. The 6’-4” Campbell also appears to be a good target. Look for these two to dominate the stats, depending on whether someone else steps up.
- Rushing defense – The middle was completely clogged up for Avon. What little success they had came around the end, but only when a defensive back missed a tackle or two.
- Passing defense – This area will take some time. Granted most of the short passes are surrendered by design, the middle seemed to be a good target for Avon and this will need to be shored up. Also, Avon dropped a couple of longer passes, which might have resulted in touchdowns. Time will improve this, as the secondary certainly has the talent.
- Kicking game – McElroy as a punter is not Magnus Haines in any way, but he is effective and did get one boomer off during the scrimmage. Keller is consistent with his extra points and the sophomore will only get stronger with kickoffs and field goal attempts as he gets older.
Next up is a Thursday scrimmage at Cincinnati St. Xavier, the 2020 Division 1 state champions. Start time is 2:00 pm.
Willtrell Hartson sprints into the Avon secondary.
Ardell Banks goes high for the long pass against the Avon defender.
Quarterback Darrius McElroy lets loose from the pocket.
Austin Brawley completes a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Slaughter.