Valley Preps

Brookstone features plenty of options on offensive side

Brookstone quarterback Russell Blanchard drops back to pass in practice. Coach Scott Pethtel said the junior has been much more consistent with his reads early on this year.
Brookstone quarterback Russell Blanchard drops back to pass in practice. Coach Scott Pethtel said the junior has been much more consistent with his reads early on this year. dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.com

Despite scoring 49 points in the season-opener against Jordan two Fridays ago, Brookstone coach Scott Pethtel admitted he wasn’t fully satisfied.

There were a handful of things he would have liked to see the unit do better, namely avoid dropped passes, bad pitches and missed blocks. With all that said, though, he was mostly pleased with the effort.

There were questions on that side of the ball entering the season, some of which Pethtel wasn’t prepared to answer even just a few weeks ago. Losing the two top contributors in Sam Ndem and Prather Hudson left a couple of large gaps, and the team was still working on filling them.

While the effort wasn’t perfect against the Red Jackets, Pethtel said it went a long way to easing his mind.

For one, he saw production from a number of different places. Jeremiah Burgess had a 14-yard touchdown run, quarterback Russell Blanchard reached the end zone twice on the ground and running back Walker Cottrell got in twice. Fullback Josh Long never reached pay dirt, but he did notch 83 yards rushing.

“I expected big things coming into it, and they gave some good production,” Pethtel said. “The key is to continue that. That game’s so long ago. It seems like two years ago.”

Maybe the biggest positive takeaway was at quarterback, where the junior Blanchard is beginning his second year as the starter under center. It wasn’t a perfect performance, as Pethtel noted about some missed pitches, but speaking purely of understanding the offense the coach thinks his quarterback has grown by leaps and bounds.

He’s more aware, Pethtel said. He understands the reads better and, as a result, can make decisions much quicker than he did as a sophomore a year ago.

“He said to me after the game that the reads just kind of came natural and the game slowed down,” Pethtel said of his quarterback. “He was able to make some good reads. I’d say he was about 70-to-75-percent successful on his reads.

“It makes me feel good. We need to keep him healthy.”

The offense — and the defense, for that matter — will get a test this week when it takes on First Presbyterian Day, a perennially strong team. Pethtel praised the Cougars’ opponent’s ability up front on defense, both with its size and athleticism.

“That means we’re going to have to make our reads and we have to block well,” he said.

A win could mean a lot for Brookstone’s confidence. Then again, it might not. Pethtel said that at this point in the year, he’s just worried about getting a win this week. He’s not going to look ahead, and he just wants both sides of the ball to get better.

“I think I said before the season that I thought it would take two or three games to find out exactly what kind of team we’ve got,” he said. “I still think that’s the case.”

David Mitchell: 706-571-8571, @leprepsports

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