Eagles blitz Lions in scrimmage

Published 10:41 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

Oak Mountain High School running back Bradley Bostick escapes from a Briarwood Christian School defender in the Eagles' spring scrimmage May 20 against the Lions. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY — Oak Mountain High School football coach Jeff Harris has been promising his players better days are ahead.

Positive moments have been few and far between in his first two seasons at the helm, with the Eagles struggling with injuries and adversity on their way to a total of six wins in the past two years.

A scrimmage Friday night with Briarwood Christian School could have been another low point with Oak Mountain facing a Lions squad that reached the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A championship game last season.

Instead, it turned into the highlight of Harris’ career thus far following the Eagles’ 28-7 win over the Lions.

“There has been a lot of challenges,” Harris said. “It’s very rewarding. It’s nice to see hard work pay off.”

Oak Mountain used a zone blitz scheme defensively to confuse a high-powered Briarwood Christian offense.

The Eagles intercepted the Lions’ star quarterback, rising senior Ben Craft, twice in the scrimmage and put pressure on the Briarwood Christian signal caller throughout the varsity portion of the scrimmage.

Briarwood quarterback Ben Craft scampers down the field during Friday night's scrimmage. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

“It’s what we do,” Harris said. “Our kids have fun playing it and it creates problems for offenses.”

Briarwood Christian coach Fred Yancey said the scrimmage was a “good night to evaluate,” but he was dissatisfied with the result on the field.

“It’s never good to play poorly and lose,” Yancey said. “Can we learn from it? Yes. But losing and playing poorly is not ideal.”

Briarwood Christian School tight end Canon Smith is sandwiched between two Oak Mountain tacklers in the Lions' spring scrimmage May 20 agains the Eagles. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Oak Mountain took a 7-0 lead with 2:02 remaining in the first quarter following a 1-yard touchdown plunge by running back Bradley Bostick. Mitch Mathias added the extra point following the touchdown, which was set up by quarterback Mickey Forrest’s 21-yard completion to Chase Tourney one play earlier.

The Eagles scored their final touchdown in the varsity portion of the scrimmage when defensive back Jake Kelley intercepted a pass by Craft and returned it 50 yards for a score. Mathias added the extra point to give Oak Mountain a 14-0 advantage with 6:13 left in the second quarter.

Oak Mountain scored its final two touchdowns in the scrimmage on the first two plays of the third quarter, which featured mostly junior varsity players on each team.

Chris Johnson intercepted a pass by Briarwood Christian quarterback Jon Stapleton and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half. Heath Quinn picked off Stapleton’s second pass attempt on the Lions’ second offensive play of the half and returned it for a touchdown.

Mathias successfully converted both extra-point attempts to give Oak Mountain a 28-0 lead less than 20 seconds into the third quarter.

Briarwood Christian scored its lone touchdown in the scrimmage when Stapleton completed a 15-yard pass to Victor Gerald for a score with 10:14 left in the game. Salvatore Cuneo added the extra point to cut the deficit to 28-7.

Kelley led the Eagles’ defensive effort with two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Oak Mountain intercepted four passes in the scrimmage and returned three of them for a touchdown.

Cameron Bice applied plenty of pressure on Craft and finished with two quarterback sacks.

Bostick finished with 16 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and finished 1-of-1 passing for 34 yards in the scrimmage. Forrest completed 2-of-8 passes for 24 yards with one interception.

Oak Mountain's Mickey Forrest tries to get a pass off despite heavy pressure from the Briarwood defense. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Adrian Williams caught two passes for 38 yards in the scrimmage.

Craft completed 10-of-20 passes for 156 yards with one interception for the Lions.

Matthew Furuto finished with 58 receiving yards on four receptions. Canon Smith caught three passes for 28 yards. Cole Pearson had one reception for 64 yards.

David Hodges led the Lions with 18 rushing yards on four carries. Will Edwards rushed for nine yards on four carries.