• Commanders close preseason with loss at FRA

    By Andy Reed -

    NASHVILLE — Friendship Christian fell to host Franklin Road Academy 14-7 in jamboree action Saturday night, but coach John McNeal learned his Commanders can move the ball through the air.

    Justin Seagraves’ 3-yard touchdown sweep pulled Friendship into a 7-7 tie with 7:45 left in the second quarter. But quarterback Braden Reece moved the Commanders into position with his right arm, finding Camden Hayslip and Co. for big gainers.

    “You’ve seen us in the past when we threw it more than we ran it,” McNeal told reporters following the two-quarter contest which ended the preseason. “We’ve got some receivers who can catch it and run, and Braden has a good arm.

    “We’re a run-blocking offense. That’s what our guys are. But we haven’t totally worked on pass blocking, so we put more time into it this week to try to have that in our arsenal when we need it. Tonight was an opportunity to try to do it because it really doesn’t mean anything, no matter what happens here. I was pleased with that part of it.”

    Franklin Road Academy came right back on the first play with a 70-yard sweep. McNeal said both teams were to have had their second teams on the field at that point. But Panthers coach Bill Whittemore had told McNeal he didn’t have enough linemen for a second unit, meaning their first-team line was in against Friendship’s second-team defense.

    “He said, ‘Coach, I got seven linemen, that’s all I got’,” McNeal said. “That would be like if we had Luke (Smith) and Ryan (Jackson) with our second backs running against their second team. I knew they had to do that, so I don’t put much into that. That was the situation.”

    FRA took a 7-0 lead on a 21-yard pass over the middle late in the first quarter.

    Friendship will open the regular season at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Jackson against Liberty Tech. McNeal has some concerns going into the opener.

    “I don’t think anybody would say they’re ready to go,” McNeal said. “There’s plenty that needs to be done. What worries me is what we saw. We’re just not in good enough shape. It is humid. But that’s not the kids’ fault. It’s ours. We didn’t focus enough on it and make it a priority like we should have throughout the whole summer. We’re going to have to see how that does. And there’s no way we can make it up in a couple of days, but we got to start.”

    Bears blank Bucs 14-0

    HENDERSONVILLE — Mt. Juliet blanked host Beech 14-0 Saturday night in Bears/Bucs Bash.

    Conner Ruzek scored the first touchdown on a long run for the Golden Bears, who will play host to Glencliff at 7 p.m. Friday in the season opener.

    Quarterback Alvin Mixon faked a handoff late in the second quarter before racing for the other touchdown.

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