Much of the time during Monday’s pre-season scrimmage between the Robey Junior High Colts of Pine Bluff and the Bryant Hornets freshman team at Bryant Stadium, the best offense for the Colts was a bad shotgun snap.
Suddenly, the timing of the whole play was off. Athletic quarterbacks like Cadarius Baggett or Derrick Sloan or a running back like Kendrick Thorn or Joshua Steward would be athletic enough to improvise in a broken field and make big plays.
And it was that kind of thing that made the scrimmage a little disjointed, particularly for the Hornets who are drilled to execute assignment football.
Much of the night, Robey struggled to even line up correctly and after a while, the officials just stopped flagging them for delay of game penalties.
On defense, the Colts were often enough not where they might be expected to be and the uncertainty seemed to take some of the assertiveness out of the Hornets’ blockers.
Bryant will face a much more disciplined and structured opponent when the season officially opens as the Cabot South Panthers visit on Thursday, Sept. 4. While that will create its own challenges, the Panthers will doubtless be where they’re expected to be — all within five yards of the line of scrimmage and muscling their way.
In the scrimmage, Pine Bluff and Bryant each ran 10 plays on offense to start then wound up battling for three eight-minute quarters. Each team scored in the first session. The Colts’ touchdown came on one of those bad snaps that Baggett corralled, scrambled and turned into a 42-yard run.
The Bryant defense, led by Austin Davidson, Bryce Thomas and Garith East stopped the two-point conversion.
The Hornets countered just a few plays later when Grayson Prince broke a 34-yard touchdown run. Luke Welch kicked the extra point so, technically, the Hornets got the better of the initial scrimmage.
In the timed quarters, both teams moved the ball in fits and starts. The Hornets rushed 19 times for 71 yards to Pine Bluff’s 64 yards on 19 rushes. The Colts completed 5 of 7 passes for 71 yards including a pair of long completions on fade routes in which Steward just out-jumped Bryant’s defenders for the ball. The misfires did include an interception by Prince.
Subbing for projected starter Michael Jones, who was out with an injury, Cameron Vail and Myers Buck combined to complete 1 of 7 throws for 5 yards though both ran well. Vail picked up 24 yards on five carries and Buck ran for 13 yards on his lone keeper.
The lone completion was a 5-yard throw from Vail to Jakalon Pittman and it converted a third-down situation.
Bryant’s rushing was led by Antonio Fuller’s 29 yards on five tries after Prince had rushed for 54 yards on three carries in the initial portion of the scrimmage.
“I thought we played well defensively minus a couple of big plays,” commented Hornets coach Kenny Horn. “I thought the defensive line played well, our linebackers played well, just a couple of bad coverage issues but, for the most part, they played pretty clean.
“Offensively, we’ve got some things to do,” he related. “We struggled a little bit. I think once we get 100 percent healthy and everybody back, we’ll probably better off but, right now, we’ve got some things to do.
“I thought we executed okay,” he explained. “We just didn’t execute fast enough or hard enough.”
The lone score of the timed section of the scrimmage was Pine Bluff’s in the final five minutes after the Hornets had turned the ball over on downs at their own 30. Thorn’s 17-yard run put the points up but, again, the Hornets, led by Zak Kemp, foiled the conversion run.
“I didn’t think we were real physical,” Horn asserted. “There were a few kids that were physical tonight but, for the most part, I thought we played soft and not real solid. I thought we played clean as far as penalties and what we were doing. I think the physical part is going to our biggest ticket right now.”