ECHS-Groves 1Michael Johnson plows in for a touchdown.
ECHS-Groves 2ECHS' defense brings the heat.
Effingham County defeated Groves 14-7 in a scrimmage Friday night at Rebel Field, but ECHS head football coach Jack Webb said there is still plenty of work to do before the Rebels’ season opener Friday night against Richmond Academy.
“I thought at times we blocked pretty decent and I thought our backs blocked hard,” he said. “But we fumbled the ball a few times and that’s something we’ve got to work on. We missed assignments blocking and our defense did not protect the perimeter like we should have and we have some things to work on in our passing defense.”
The first-team offense, which is a big concern because it returns only three starters from last season, moved the ball efficiently against Groves’ defense, racking up 135 yards in the first half and scoring a touchdown.
Effingham, however, did turn the ball over twice on fumbles and went three-and-out on a possession.
Michael Johnson scored the first touchdown, a 6-yard run, at the end of the first quarter. The TD was set up by senior quarterback Chris Hamilton’s 16-yard pass to Steven Tarpley on third-and-9.
The next score came in the fourth quarter, when Brandon Best punched it in from 2 yards out to culminate a 70-yard drive, which took up 9 minutes and 32 seconds.
Jackie Chen successfully kicked both extra points.
The Rebel defense held Groves in check for most of the night, but allowed a touchdown with 9.1 seconds remaining.
Effingham’s defense, which returns eight starters, shut down Groves’ Wing-T attack for most of the first half. Groves did not record a first down until its fourth possession, 2:56 into the second quarter. Effingham forced Groves to punt on four of its five possessions. On the Groves Rebels’ last possession of the first half, they moved the ball to the red zone but could not score before the half ended.
“The defense played pretty good but at times we missed some tackles and didn’t execute on some assignments,” Webb said.
Webb said he wants to pass the ball more this season, and he showed some of his hand Friday night. Hamilton completed three of his five passing attempts for 39 yards
“Tonight we passed when I thought we needed to,” Webb said. “We executed well and made some good catches. I thought early Chris Hamilton did a good job throwing the ball and hitting the open guys. It’s something to build on.”
No one player impressed Webb in the scrimmage and he said that several starting positions, particularly at running back, are still open.
The third quarter was split into two six-minute periods for the junior varsity squads. Effingham’s JV team moved the ball well in its period but did not score. The JV defense did not allow Groves past the 50-yard line.
"Our young guys got some work to do, but at times they did some good things,” Webb said. “Our young guys are going to have to play some this year.”
With two running back positions open, Webb used nine different players at the position. Johnson received the bulk of the carries, rushing for 79 yards on 12 rushes. Best had the second most rushes, with five attempts for 25 yards.