Friday’s scrimmage game between Brunswick High and Glynn Academy gave fans on both sides plenty of reasons to be optimistic when the two teams kickoff for real in August.
The Pirates won the varsity portion of the scrimmage, 21-12, in two quarters. The action was like a normal game but without live kickoffs and punts. The two quarters were sandwiched between freshmen and JV teams playing for a quarter.
The scrimmage was the cherry on top of both teams’ spring practice. It was the first time new BHS coach Sean Pender got to see his guys on the field, and he liked what he saw for the most part.
“Their hard work paid off,” Pender said. “We still have a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re still making mistakes. But the offense is executing plays, we’re getting better and you can see the progress. The things they were doing well in practice, they continued to do well here. I’m very proud of the way we competed.”
Glynn Academy head coach Rocky Hidalgo saw his team make some mistakes, but said there is room to improve going forward.
“I think we gave up some big plays, turned the ball over. All in all, it is what it is,” Hidalgo said. “It’s a spring game … they’ve got some good players and they’re a good football team. It’s going to be exciting when we get together in October.”
The Brunswick varsity opened the scoring with the offense converting a defensive turnover into points. Jaylen Jackson picked off Glynn quarterback Randon Jernigan on the third play of the game and returned it to the Glynn 44-yard line.
Four plays later, Pirates quarterback Jamarius Stevens connected on a screen pass to Alonzo Brown. The receiver did the rest for a 15-yard touchdown. Dalton Thrift’s point-after attempt flew between the uprights to make it 7-0.
After the Pirate defense forced a 3-and-out by the Red Terrors, Stevens went back to work. He scrambled out of the way of an incoming rusher and sprinted to his left before finding DJ Whitfield flashing across the field. Stevens hit Whitfield in stride and the receiver scampered into the end zone for a 53-yard touchdown. Another Thrift PAT would make it 14-0 Pirates.
“I’m very happy with the way Jamarius was a field general today,” Pender said. “He stayed poised.”
Glynn’s ground game began to chew up yards on its next drive. Carries by Jernigan, Caine Crews, Hunter Hall and Nolan Grant got the Terrors to the Brunswick 4-yard line before Jernigan scampered in on a quarterback keeper to make it 12-6 a few seconds into the second quarter after a failed two-point conversion.
The Terror defense would force the Pirates to punt on their next possession, but another turnover by the Glynn offense would lead to Brunswick points. The Pirate defense jumped on a Grant fumble at the Glynn 35-yard line. Two plays later, Brown snagged a pass from Stevens over a Glynn defender and ran to pay dirt for a 24-yard touchdown.
Stevens finished the game 14 of 20 for 167 yards and three touchdowns. The senior credited his offensive line for giving him plenty of time to throw.
“It started with the O-line,” Stevens said. “They protected me and I had enough time to deliver the passes, and we just executed the plays.”
Pender credited the Pirates’ rising seniors with helping make the transition a smooth one.
“There’s about 35 seniors I believe, and they’ve had a heck of a challenge,” Pender said. “I’m the third coach they’ve had in four years, so there is a lot of trust involved. They’ve done a real good job of buying in.”
Glynn grinded out another long drive to answer the Pirates’ score. Crews and Hall did most of the work on the drive, with Caine getting the ball down to the 1-yard line with a 22-yard run that featured some jukes and some power football near the goal line.
“I was really pleased with the way we ran the football,” Hidalgo said. “I wanted to watch our O-line and D-line and see if we could run the football and stop the run. I feel like we did a pretty decent job of both of those things.”
Crews finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown for the final score. Crews finished the game with 71 yards rushing on 12 carries. As a team, the Terrors ran for 149 yards in just two quarters.
Crews and Hall are also expected to play on the defensive side of the ball, at linebacker and defensive back, respectively.
“They’ve played a lot of football on one side of the ball,” Hidalgo said. “I think it’s hard for kids if they’re not really experienced to excel on both sides of the ball at this level. They played for two or three years on the defensive side and they kind of know that so they have the capacity to learn the other stuff.”
It was clear from the action on the field that both teams are far from being a finished product. Penalties were prevalent on both sides, mostly offsides on the Brunswick defense and holding penalties against the Glynn offense. There was a stretch were the teams committed four penalties in a row during Glynn’s first touchdown drive.
Outside of a reverse or two, both offenses also kept things pretty vanilla. Brunswick only ran the ball seven times for 25 yards while the Terrors only threw it two times, one incompletion and one interception.
Despite the flaws, both coaches like the direction their teams are heading just three months before the season starts.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we have to get on with it,” Hidalgo said.
For Pender, the goal is to built off a solid spring and carry the momentum into the summer and then to toe football field in August.
“Everyone has the goal to win a state title,” Pender said. “Our first goal is to win a state title, and if we fall short of it, maybe we make it to the Final Four or Elight Eight, you never know. I want to progress every day.”