High School Football
Cougars dominate LaGrange in scrimmage
by Chris Goltermann
It wasn’t perfect — and high-school football games are rarely played without mistake in one of the three main phases of the game.
But for a scrimmage, Newnan couldn’t have asked for a better way to get its 2014 season started.
Dominating play in the first half and two of the three quarters where varsity lineups went head-to-head, the Cougars came up with big plays and turned three LaGrange turnovers into points while outscoring the Grangers 23-7 in Friday’s preseason outing at Drake Stadium.
Newnan now had two weeks to make any needed adjustments prior to a showdown at Carrollton on Aug. 29 against last year’s Class AAAA state runner-up.
But following a 6-5 season where their offense struggled down the stretch, Friday’s scrimmage certainly had the Cougars headed in the right direction.
Making a switch out of the shotgun to a more run-oriented multiple I-attack, Newnan scored on three of its first four possessions — all on drives directly off LaGrange turnovers.
Two talented quarterbacks, senior third-year starter Bailey Bryant, a 6-5 southpaw, and right-handed 6-5 junior Chancellor Johnson, both threw touchdown passes while combining for 136 yards on 5 of 8 passing.
It was much a result of a balanced Newnan running attack led by senior J.K. Britt’s 99 yards on 14 attempts.
Bryant bought himself some extra time on the third snap of the scrimage and found fellow senior Frankie Williams for a 70-yard catch and run in the All-County cornerback’s first game at wideout for a quick 7-0 lead just 1:39 into the new season.
“There was some good, some bad. You always feel good to come out of it with a win, of course. LaGrange has got a good football team. They’re big and strong up front on offense,” Newnan head coach Mike McDonald said.
The Cougars were called for four penalties, three on illegal procedures in their first live action since making the offensive switch during the offseason. Talented Grangers senior Mon Denson and fullback Kimani Barnes, who scored on a 35-yard run for the only score of the third quarter, exposed Newnan a bit in the middle of the field.
Newnan, however, also showcased its big-play potential in the secondary with Williams and Mitchell Burk on the corners to go with safeties Britt and K.D. Satterwhite. Williams and junior linebacker Emmanuel Bridges each recovered fumbles.
“We played good in the secondary and we feel pretty strong there,”McDonald said. “We gotta get a little more physical up in the middle, but we’ll continue to work on it. Offensively, we made a big play finding Frankie out there and from that point on we were able to establish the run.”
A shift in offensive philosophies due as much from Newnan’s depth at running back was equally apparent as five players traded carries. Along with Britt’s solid effort, which included a 16-yard touchdown run off a nifty cut toward the right boundary on the snap following Bridges’ fumble recovery, juniors Marquis Hill and Darryel Hines as well as senior Damion Key each had at least one carry.
Hill finished with 48 yards on seven attempts while running behind a front line including two seniors, two juniors and sophomore newcomer Joel Hughes at 6-3, 264 pounds at one of the tackle positions.
Sophomore running back Keonte’ Hart added a couple of big runs in the a scoreless fourth quarter among JV lineups for Newnan.
Satterwhite, meanwhile, seemed to be everywhere on the field, making big plays on offense, defense and special teams.
The talented sophomore made an acrobatic grab just outside Newnan’s goal line on a ball that grazed the fingertips of LaGrange tight end Connor Davis for an interception late in the second quarter.
Satterwhite then came up big on a third-down strike from Johnson on an ensuing 14-play march that ended with the Cougar quarterback finding senior Randell Arnold for an 18-yard touchdown and a 23-0 lead.
The second-year varsity contributor then returned a kickoff 41-yards to midfield in the third quarter, setting up another drive that came within a clank of the left upright from netting points on a Jacob Bryant field-goal.
Bryant, who has come on late to fill a hole at kicker, still managed to connect on two extra points, including a line drive. But he came through even bigger to close the first half with a 35-yard field goal that still had distance as it came through the uprights.