High School Football:
Published: Aug 11, 2012 12:00 AM
Modified: Aug 13, 2012 03:14 PM
DURHAM - What if they didnt put on a game but everyone came anyway?
The air was almost electric last week at Durham Hillsides Russell Blunt Stadium, where about 300 fans showed up to see the host Hornets scrimmage with Chapel Hill.
The scrimmages a set of 10 plays by each teams offense against the others defense, followed by a 35 minute full-contact game had many of the accoutrements of a regular Friday night contest: a public address announcer, an open concession stand that included fresh fried fish and a running scoreboard. The Hornets marching band wasnt present, but could be heard off in the distance practicing with their new music director.
The result? A draw.
The 4A Hornets and 3A Tigers appeared as evenly matched as two teams could be. Neither was willing to show all its cards, for what was really just a dress rehearsal for this Fridays season-openers.
Chapel Hill will be the only local school at home as the 2012 football season opens Friday. The Tigers will host South Granville at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Culton-Peerman Stadium. East Chapel Hill will be at East Wake and Carrboro will be at Central Davidson. Hillside will be at New Bern.
To me, this was more of just a chance to practice against somebody new, against some new schemes, Hillside coach Antonio King Said. At the end of the day, this is not going to matter. Whats going to matter is next Friday when we go to New Bern. We start playing there, thats when we start getting serious.
Most of the fans present clearly had anticipated a bit more. Chapel Hill and Hillside, former conference rivals when CHHS was a 4A school, had met previously this summer in the Beast of the East 7-on-7 tournament at East Carolina University, when the 4A Hornets had edged 3A CHHS is what most observers thought was the best matchup of the event. Hillside went on to win the Beast.
Many Chapel Hill fans thought last Thursdays scrimmage at Hillside would bring another similar matchup. But, much like the dark thunderclouds that blew past Durham shortly before the start of the scrimmage, much of the electricity faded.
There would be no shootout only a display of two very talented teams worked through their offensive sets.
We have some things that we need to work on coming out of the scrimmage, and there were things that we did well that we will want to emphasize when we get ready for South Granville, CHHS headcoach Issac Marsh said. Overall, I am pleased with our success.
Chapel Hill senior quarterback T.J. Johnson and running backs Darius Allen and Jamarius Jones all performed solidly while they were in, but their time was limited. Marsh was determined to run people in and out of the game to get in as much field time as possible for each.
It was a scrimmage. We wanted to see a lot of guys, and we tried to get as many guys into play as we could, Marsh said. All of our guys played well. When (offensive guard) Logan Tisch came in the game, he played very well. Jeremy Peck ran the ball well. We did some good things.
Marsh was just as pleased by the way Johnson rooted on his teammates as he was with Johnsons on-field performance.
TJ was on the sidelines getting behind his teammates while he was out during that series toward the end, Marsh noted. I saw several positives that we can build upon.
This felt great, Johnson said. Our guys have practiced really hard, and they have been waiting for this time. We came in here ready to play, and I think we did well.
Each team scored at last once, but defense dominated the early going. Chapel Hill looked especially strong against the Hillside running game, thwarting Hillside tailback Khris Francis for much of the 35-minute game scrimmage.
Francis eventually broke free for a couple of runs around end, proving he couldnt be stopped forever.
I like the way Dante (Thomas-Williams) ran the ball, too. He ran the ball well tonight, King said. And I like the way our third running back, Dequan Scott, ran the ball.
But what I really liked was the way our line gave us what we were looking for.
Playing against each other can get kind of boring and redundant. Going against a live team is better, and we found out that weve got some people who can play. Weve got some guys who are ready. Im pretty excited about what Ive got.