Posted: Saturday, August 16th 2014 at 8:14am
Scrimmage notebook: Big Red QBs, Byrd shine; Falcons' Goss excels
By Morgan Lee and Jeff Hart
Gainesville quaterback Mikey Gonzalez, left, hands the ball off to Chris Byrd during the Red Elephants' scrimmage against White County on Friday in Cleveland. Gonzalez is in red, as he was not to be tackled during the scrimmage. / photo: David Weikel
CLEVELAND -- Football coaches know better than to get too excited -- or too frustrated -- by what they see during scrimmages.
But several area coaches had to like what they saw on Friday night, including Gainesville’s Bruce Miller.
The Red Elephants began what Miller said one coach jokingly referred to as LAD on Friday night: Life After Deshaun. And Gainesville didn’t look too shabby in its first step of replacing the record-setting quarterback -- now taking snaps at Clemson.
Mikey Gonzalez and Mesiah Dorsey each threw touchdown passes in the first half, as Gainesville’s varsity scored 28 points on White County in Cleveland.
The senior starter Gonzalez looked particularly comfortable, going 6 for 8 on the Red Elephants opening possession, including a scoring pass to Rodney Lackey. Dorsey, meanwhile, took over on Gainesville’s fourth offensive possession -- and found Rodarious Timmons for a 40-yard touchdown strike.
“Mikey executed with a lot of poise tonight, and there was one play where he checked down to Chris Byrd and made a nice gain when he could have been sacked -- that was nice,” Miller said. “Mesiah’s a great athlete, and he can play a lot of places.”
Byrd also flashed some impressive wheels, scoring two touchdowns, including a 42-yard scoring run in which he broke the line of scrimmage, cut back to pick up blockers and sprinted down the sideline.
The run was part of a big night for running backs -- White County’s Maurice Sutton also had a 13-yard scoring run for the Warriors, making it 28-7 Gainesville during the first half of varsity play.
“All of our skill people played well,” Miller said. “But really this is just an exhibition. It’s good for the players, because they get to see themselves on film, and that gives them more understanding of what they’re doing. They get a lot out of it.”
A number of Flowery Branch players will get something from Friday as well. The Falcons came into Friday’s scrimmage with Mountain View looking to see who would take over their spread passing attack.
Instead, the Falcons learned their running game, behind sophomore Jeremiah Goss, may be ready to take center stage in 2014.
Goss rushed for nearly 200 yards in the first half and may have served notice to Region 8-AAAAA defenses that some adjustments may be in order.
“He’s a player,” Flowery Branch coach Chris Griffin said. “We’ll run the ball this year. We want to pass but it may take a little more time to get the passing game where we ultimately want it.”
The first half was played under normal game conditions and the Falcons led 24-13 at the end of two quarters. The second half was played under practice conditions with the JV squads playing the fourth quarter.
For scrimmage conditions, the Falcons offense looked sharp at times. They opened their first drive with long runs by QB Jasen Johnson and Goss and finished the drive on a 28-yard TD pass from Johnson to Kyle King.
After a punt on their second drive, Goss carried four times for 41 yards and Johnson finished the drive with a 1-yard score to make it 14-6. The biggest play of the half came when Goss rambled 60 yards through the Bears defense but fumbled near the goal line. But the Falcons’ King recovered in the end zone for the score.
“He did some good things. He left some throws out there,” Griffin said. “But, it was no different for his first time out than any of the other quarterbacks that have come before him, including Jaybo (Shaw) and Connor (Shaw). Now he’ll be able to see on film the things he did well and the things he needs to improve on. It’s a process and he’s progressing.”
The defense looked good at times but also gave up several long plays to the athletic Bears offense.
“(Mountain View) has some athletes and they’re going to hit some plays on you,” Griffin said. “But me made one nice stand close in and got a couple of sacks. Overall, we’re right where we should be at this time of year.”
The highlight of the half, however, came on the final play when senior Will Filson drilled a 49-yard field goal that would have been good from nearly 60 yards. His previous long in any format was a 42-yarder in a spring game and just 36-yards during regular season and playoff action.
“(Will’s) a stud and he is definitely a weapon. We’re going to use him every time we get a chance. He’s got a great leg,” Griffin said.
Johnson coach Jason Roquemore was pleased with his team's scrimmage in a three-quarter, 35-7 win over East Jackson.
"Offensively we did well at times but we still have things we need to work on," Roquemore said.
Roquemore said senior quarterback Chase Sims played well in his two quarters of action.
The Knights open the season next week on the road against Madison County.
Other scores received and notables from Friday included:
-- Lumpkin County defeated Cambridge 21-7.
-- Lakeview Academy took a 20-7 first half lead on Banks County.
-- Buford hammered South Gwinnett 35-0 in the first half.
-- Westminster took a 21-14 lead over Dawson County after three quarters.
-- Franklin N.C., defeated Rabun County 20-14 in a two-quarter scrimmage. Rabun County new starting QB Collin Grant went 3 for 5, including a 75-yard TD pass to junior standout Charlie Woerner. Freshman QB Bailey Fisher also went 3 for 3 with a TD pass.
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