VALDOSTA -- For one night at least, Thomas County Central turned into a wide-open shotgun offense.
After a six minute drive on its first possession of the game that resulted in a touchdown, Thomas County Central's veer offense was shut down by Lowndes High's defense during Friday's pre-season scrimmage. Including that opening 80-yard drive, the Yellow Jackets managed just 66 yards of offense on the ground in three quarters of varsity action.
Since the Yellow Jackets' run was eliminated Friday, Pilcher let his son, quarterback Doug Pilcher, air it out against a green Vikings secondary. Pilcher threw 21 times, completing 14 passes for 138 yards.
The secondary was the main concern at camp last week, but Vikings' head coach Randy McPherson says he believes his staff will find the right combination by the time the season starts.
"We do need to get better in the secondary," said McPherson, whose Vikings were ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press's pre-season Class AAAAA poll. "We're still looking at a lot of kids trying to find the right match."
With Pilcher dropping back to pass so often, Lowndes got a chance to look at its pass rush abilities. Defensive ends B.J. Wright and Joe Rogers and tackle Devarius Leonard each recorded a sack. End Jermaine Clemons had three quarterback pressures and was in the backfield several other times.
Lowndes tallied 196 rushing yards and 42 passing yards in McPherson's debut as offensive coordinator at Lowndes High. McPherson moved from defense to offense after last year's offensive coordinator Bill Wiles left for Branford (Fla.) High.
"I feel comfortable," McPherson said of the change.
It doesn't hurt that he's got a lot of weapons at his disposal. Fullback Octavius Everett busted long touchdown runs of 49 and 53 yards up the middle but those were his only two carries on the night. He also is the projected starter at linebacker for the Vikings.
"It just kind of happened that way," McPherson said of Everett's limited carries. "We've got two fullbacks and several wingbacks. (Everett) popped one, but you know Marlon Jones (Lowndes' senior fullback) can pop one, too."
Vikings' junior running back Lynn Williams had four carries for 25 yards and surprising freshman Darriet Perry ran three times for 18 yards. Both played at the safety positions on defense to start the scrimmage.
With what seems to be an improved passing game in 2004, Lowndes' first play from scrimmage Friday was a deep ball from junior quarterback Doug Belk that fell incomplete.
"That's some of the stuff we've been working on this summer," McPherson said.
Belk completed 2-of-5 passing attempts, including a picture-perfect 29-yard post route to converted quarterback Bryan Sermons. Belk also ran for 32 yards on a quarterback draw on third-and-11 in the third quarter.
Junior quarterback Randy J. Williams, who injured his left knee at camp last week, had an MRI on the knee Friday and no tears were revealed. McPherson said Williams may be ready for the season opener. Williams is also the Vikings' deep snapper. Junior defensive back Jermel Demps will take over those duties in his absence.
The Lowndes High Coaches Show has moved to Loco's restaurant this season and will take place each Tuesday at 7 p.m. The show will likely air the Tuesday prior to the Aug. 20 opener against Tri-Cities.
Lowndes High School was scheduled to host speaker Jack Renkens, head of the Recruiting Realities Tour, Monday at the school. The event has been rescheduled for next spring.
The Vikings will kickoff Friday's scrimmage at pre-season No. 1 Camden County at 5 p.m.
-- compiled by Matt Stewart
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