Andrew Stewart connected with Josh Adams on a 15-yard touchdown pass against Webster County during a three-team exhibition at Marshall County.
After Stewart ran into the end zone on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, Webster ran one more play before the end of the night, which resulted in an interception by Jaron Gilbert and a 55-yard touchdown return.
Trigg head coach Shannon Burcham said the Wildcats looked better Friday than in any other scrimmage in his three years as head coach.
“We’ve been preaching since back in Spring that we knew we were losing guys, but we wanted to reload, not rebuild,” Burcham said. “We’ve got a nucleus of kids that want to win.”
The Wildcat defense kept Webster and Marshall off the scoreboard in both 10-minute scrimmages, which were held after all three teams rotated with two sets of 10 offensive possessions for each squad.
During the 10-play sessions, Trigg’s offense scored on its 10th play against Marshall’s defense and managed only 19 yards against Webster.
Stewart shook off three incompletions to start the night to lead the opening scoring drive. After Adams ran for 10 yards on the fourth play, Akeem Wilson ran for four yards, then Stewart connected with Nick Watkins on an eight-yard screen pass.
After another incompletion, Stewart gained four yards on a run that might have reminded Wildcat fans of Donald Bush, former quarterback and TCHS 2009 graduate. Stewart lowered his shoulder and plowed into Marshall linebacker Colby Wiseman, knocking off the Marshal’s helmet.
On the next play, Stewart connected on a deep route to Gilbert for 38 yards. Stewart then ran for a two-yard score.
Trigg’s defense stood tall against both opponents. The ‘Cats allowed zero net yards to Webster. Defensive lineman Tavaras Poindexter ended the series with a sack, Trigg’s second of the night after a group of Wildcats gang-tackled the quarterback four plays earlier.
Trigg allowed 40 yards to Marshall’s offense, 20 coming on the first three plays.
In the first quarter of game-action scrimmage, Trigg and Marshall each failed to score. The Wildcat defense was strong again, dropping the Marshals for a loss of 12 yards on eight plays, including four sacks and a fumble recovery by Gilbert.
Trigg’s offense managed only one yard on its first seven plays, but the final drive of the quarter began a trend of improvement that continued through the end of the night.
Stewart ran for 11 yards on the second play and went 5-for-8 through the air, connecting with Gilbert four times for 53 yards. Trigg traveled 59 yards on 12 plays, but the drive ended with Adams managed only two yards on a 4th-and-3 catch.
To open the quarter against Webster, Trigg’s defense allowed 41 yards on 10 plays and took possession on downs at the Wildcat 26-yard line. Trigg marched back into Webster territory with an 11-play, 38-yard drive that ended after four straight incompletions by Stewart.
The Wildcats allowed six yards on Webster’s next four plays, setting up the scoring drive. After recovering a bad snap on the first play, Stewart ran for 25 yards on the next three plays. Dillon Cionko’s five-yard catch left the ‘Cats inches short of a first down, and Stewart kept the drive alive on 4th-and-short before connecting with Gilbert on the touchdown pass.
Burcham said the Wildcats showed positive progress Friday and in the days leading up to the scrimmage.
“Tough schedule or not, we want to go out and compete in the [2A 1st District],” Burcham said. “I think we’re on target to do that right now.”
Burcham said he was pleased with the play of Trigg’s offensive line and the defensive unit as a whole.
“I think we did a good job of pass protecting, and we ran the ball better than last Saturday in the intrasquad scrimmage,” Burcham said. “We’ve still got to get better at executing what we want to do, but we didn’t give up a big play tonight on defense. If we can keep doing that and grinding it out, maybe we can force some turnovers.”
Injury report: Senior wideout Mitch Rogers missed the scrimmage due to a back injury. Rogers took a hit during practice recently, and attempts by a chiropractor and Trigg trainer T.J. Marsh haven’t alleviated the pain. Rogers will undergo further evaluation this week. Monday, Burcham said Rogers will likely play in Friday’s season opener at Union City, Tenn.
Sophomore lineman Hunter McNichols suffered a foot injury and was in a walking boot Friday. Marsh said McNichols could possibly begin rehabilitation this week and might be available for action by the middle of the season.
Senior running back and linebacker Jamus McAtee sat out a series or two Friday after making a play on defense but returned to action before the night was over. Barksdale also suffered an ankle sprain, but Burcham said he’d be available Friday.
Sophomore lineman Tim Gude was cleared to return to action Friday, but not in time for the scrimmage.
Radio change: Scott Brown, sports director at WKDZ, said Trigg’s first two football games of the season will be broadcast on 100.9 FM while Tennessee Titans broadcasts are on 106.5 FM at the same time.