If there was one thing Southeast Whitfield football coach Sean Gray would have liked more of from his team Friday night, it would be intensity.
Considering his varsity players scored on four of five possessions in the first half and shut out Murray County’s first-team offense, it would be interesting to see what would have happened if Gray’s wish was fulfilled.
Southeast excelled in one of its last major steps toward the 2012 high school football season with a 59-7 victory in a preseason scrimmage at Raider Stadium.
“The only thing I was disappointed in was we played so flat,” said Gray, who is in his inaugural season as the head coach at his alma mater. “I saw a lot of good things, and I thought that we adjusted to the pace of the game pretty well. We saw a ton of positives, but we were just flat and we will have to work on that.”
The varsity squads competed against each other in the first half, while the junior varisty teams faced off in the third quarter and freshmen teams played with a running clock in the fourth. Southeast led 24-0 at halftime, and the Raiders’ junior varsity poured it on the Indians in the third quarter with three scores before the freshman Raiders added two more touchdowns.
The depth of the Raiders showed in the second half — several Indians on the varsity roster also play quite a bit on junior varsity because of a lack of numbers.
But at the start of the game, both offenses were in much better form than the opposing defenses. Murray County moved the ball well, with quarterback Brady Todd running the midline and the veer out of the flexbone triple-option attack before a sack stalled the drive at midfield.
Southeast’s offense came out in many of the same sets of last year’s spread, but relied much more on the run, with junior quarterback Blake Foster showing versatility on the ground and through the air.
Foster had a 4-yard touchdown pass to Rhett Harper and also ran in from the 6 to end the first half. Foster finished the night with five carries for 46 yards and was 7 of 15 passing for 85 yards. Harper added a 13-yard scoring, and Abel Mendiola tacked on a 25-yard field goal.
“The offensive speed of the team is a lot different this year,” said Foster, who started the past two seasons at receiver. “We are trying to control the clock a little more and run the ball a little more to give our defense a little more of a rest than last year.”
Murray County was able to move the ball effectively in the first half. The Indians never seemed to be stopped by the Raiders, but they did seem to stop themselves. A fumble recovered by Southeast’s Andrew Ortiz ended the Indians’ second drive. Another fumble ended Murray County’s best drive of the night, driving 53 yards in seven plays to the Southeast 17.
“In the first half, we moved the football up and down the field,” Murray County coach John Hammond said. “Brady did a real good job reading the midline and the veer, and from goal line to goal line we did a good job, we just couldn’t get it across the goal line.
“Defensively, we have a ways to go. We got tired in that second quarter with a lot of guys on both sides of the ball, and it showed. We have to do a better job of conditioning.”
Southeast defensive end Jayro Perez said his unit also has to improve. Even though the varsity didn’t allow a point, the Raiders were flagged for two personal fouls on late hits and Perez said several reads were missed on the option.
“Defensively, we have to execute better,” Perez said. “We seemed a little sluggish today, and we have to get pumped up when the time is right, and the time isn’t right on a late hit. The defensive line didn’t squeeze down like we are supposed to, and we have to get better up front with our reads.”
It was a big win to start the process for the Raiders, but both sides saw plenty to get back to work on with two weeks to their season openers. Southeast kicks off at North Murray on Aug. 31, while Murray County hosts Coahulla Creek.