Valley Preps

High school football: Bonus coverage from the Carver-Central scrimmage

To start out, I just want to say how happy it made me to be back at a football game. Anyone else feel that way. Things are just right with the world when football is being played.

On Thursday night, we got Carver and Central in the annual scrimmage and the result was fairly similar to the previous edition. This year, it was a 27-14 win for the Red Devils. They started fast with a 21-0 lead and held on after the Carver first team cut the deficit to seven points.

In the Red Devils and Tigers, we have hands down the two most talented teams in the Bi-City area. It took two hands to count the number of Division-I recruits on the field at a given moment. Central, however, looked like the much more prepared team as we had into the regular season next week.

Its offense looked very impressive. One of the unknowns heading into the game was quarterback Ethan Baber, and he alleviated any concerns people may have had with an impressive game. He showed great command of the offense and will only continue to learn as we get into the season. The Red Devils’ running game was downright dangerous. Ryan Humphrey, Kenneth Thomas and Traveon Samuel all showed their elite athleticism against a very talented defensive unit.

For Carver, it was a good opportunity to shake the rust and see what areas needed some attention. The defense broke down a handful of times and the ball touched the ground on too many occasions for the offense. Coach Joe Kegler and his staff will be sure to eliminate those mental mistakes this week.

Prior to the game, I highlighted three areas I thought would be key to watch, not necessarily for who would win the game, but to shed some light on the team for the coming weeks. Here’s a look at those three areas and what we learned.

The quarterbacks

Baber and Carver’s Jawon Pass are very green starters, so I was really interested to see how they would handle the pressure of the bright lights.

Both exceeded expectations, in my opinion.

Baber, who was all smiles after the game, completed 60 percent of his passes and threw one for a long touchdown strike. He wasn’t perfect by any means, but he showed a very good understanding of his role in the offense.

Pass, only a sophomore and starting for the very first time, was very good — perhaps the star of the Carver offense.

He completed 8 of 11 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Maybe his best moment was hobbling back into the game after leaving with cramps to toss a touchdown pass that cut the deficit to seven points. That was his last play of the game, but it proved a lot of things about his mental and physical makeup.

Carver’s defense

When you consider the potential for this unit, I’m not sure you can give it a passing grade against Central’s offense.

There’s so much talent and I really expected to see the Tigers be able to limit Central’s offensive attack, but breakdowns in coverage and a couple of penalties really undermined the effort early on in this game.

Case in point: Carver forced Central into a three and out on its first drive of the game, but was whistled for an illegal substitution that gave the Red Devils new life. Central then proceeded to march down the field, helped by a 40-yard Kenneth Thomas run, en route to a touchdown.

Later in the game, Carver had Central in a 4th and 10 situation, but Baber connected with Khaled Berklin for a 32-yard touchdown pass behind the Carver secondary.

I don’t think any of us have any doubts of what Carver’s defense is capable of, and it’s better to shake the rust this week in a scrimmage than when the games get started. But there were definitely some lapses on Thursday that will be addressed in practice over the next week, I’m sure.

Playing under the lights

It’s always tough to get back under the lights after spending months running drills, 7-on-7s and non-contact scrimmages.

For both teams, I think we can call Thursday a success because it allowed them to remember what it feels like to play in front of the crowd, hear their names called on the loudspeaker and play at full speed.

Both teams took their lumps, and both teams showed some really solid moments. I think we can expect big things from both going forward.

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