Fans from Johnstown and Forest Hills got their first look at their respective football teams this morning at Trojan Stadium
as the two teams participated against each other in their first preseason scrimmage. Although not too many conclusions should
be drawn from this first taste of live action against another team, there were some positive and negatives on both sides of
the ball for both for both teams.
In traditional scrimmage fashion, both teams’ offenses were given the ball on the twenty-yard line with ten chances
to cross the goal line. The Rangers offense went first. Although their first team did not score a touchdown in this first
series, they showed a very nice passing attack as Travis Rearick looked comfortable in the pocket behind good protection from
his offensive line. On the eighth play of the series he rolled out to the right and made a very nice throw. On the tenth play
though, the Trojan defense put up a better pass rush and “sacked” Rearick (quotes used since the quarterbacks
were protected from contact).
The Trojans then took their turn on offense and after a loss of yardage on the first play and a sweep left that saw Antwaun
Reed make some nice moves on a short gain, quarterback Brandon Hody hit Xavier Thomas with a quick pass out of a doubles formation.
X then made some nice moves for the very important yards after catch or YAC. Unfortunately that was the only complete pass
for the series as two other attempts were too high and one other probably should have been intercepted as it went in and out
of the hands of a Ranger defender. The drive sputtered after an attempt an the option was stopped and on the final play, the
Trojans obviously went for the touchdown and Hody’s pass had a bit too much air to be hauled in for the score.
So with neither first unit scoring, the scrimmage went to the second teams. It didn’t take long for the Forest Hills
backups to get the Rangers on the board. After a big run on the third play of the series, the Ranger backup quarterback threw
a very nice pass and the wide receiver beat the Trojan defensive back for the initial score of the morning. Earlier in the
drive a pass was just overthrown so the second unit made amends for this two plays later. The Rangers were given the rest
of their allotted plays and only threatened again on a big gain on the ground, which may have been bigger had the running
back not run in to one of his own offensive linemen.
The Trojans’ second team offense then took their turn and that is when many of the supporters in the bleachers really
took notice. This was mainly due to the performance of quarterback Dan Weaver who looked poised in the pocket and made
some really nice throws. Weaver was 4-of-5 on the drive and scored the Trojans’ first TD in the scrimmage with a nice
fade pass down near the goal line. Although the throws were of the vertical nature, the Trojans’ receivers did a good
job on some of the quick patterns in making the first defender miss. In fact, the touchdown pass was set up by a long gain
on a quick hitch the previous play.
After these four series, the scrimmage took a different twist as the sticks were brought to the sideline and the teams
ran a more natural game situation, with four downs to gain the first. In other words, move the chains and you stayed on the
field. In the series, the Rangers came out in somewhat of a flexbone or wing set and used motion to set up a few big gains
out of the fullback position. After a few short gains from the running backs, Rearick rolled to his left and rather than risking
the ball in the air, took it in himself for the Rangers second score. In true game fashion, the Rangers were allowed to try
for the extra point, and it was good, barely.
The JHS offense didn’t fare well in their chance to move the chances, in fact they didn’t (move the chains
that is). There were two “sacks” and a run that resulted in a loss of yardage. Also in the real game style, the
Trojans were allowed to punt and although the snap rolled back to Ben Landis he boomed the punt to the Ranger return team.
The punt returner muffed the punt and JHS recovered.
The Forest Hills first offense got another shot at moving the chains and they hit pay dirt again. Although many on the
Johnstown side of the field thought the second play in the series, which was a pass and long gain, should have been negated
because of offensive pass interference. All I’ll say is that it’s the preseason for the refs too so give ‘em
a break! After two short gains on the ground, Forest Hills went to the Power “I” in a short yardage situation
and got the first down. One play later, on first and goal, they punched it in. Again, the PAT was good.
The second attempt at moving the chains for JHS’ first team offense ended in a punt like the first but this time
they did move the chains on another nice run after the catch from Xavier Thomas. The snap to the punter was much better this
time though and the result was the same, another nice kick from Landis.
Both Forest Hills and Johnstown’s first team offenses got one more chance with the ball, back in the traditional
scrimmage style of 10 plays to score. Neither squad scored, but there were a few plays of notice. Forest Hills gained a lot
of yardage on a perfectly executed screen pass, however the Trojans intercepted the next pass attempt. When the Trojans had
the ball, Weaver made a beautiful pass that probably would have been a touchdown had the receiver been able to hold on to
the pass. Weaver was 3-for-5 on the final series of the morning.
So scoring-wise it was a victory for Forest Hills as they scored two touchdowns to Johnstown’s one. However, coaches
from both staffs will no doubt use the tape from this scrimmage to evaluate how their team stands. Although both teams struggled
in some areas and excelled in others, it is understood that after one week of practice you cannot be too high or too low on
JHS will scrimmage Cambria Heights next weekend.
Doug Keklak can be reached at