August 17, 2013

Bruins offense is speedy, prolific, but penalties frustrate Robinson

TUNNEL HILL — Northwest Whitfield High School’s football team proved it can score in Friday’s scrimmage versus Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe.


The Bruins scored six touchdowns in the first half — a 15-minute first quarter and 12-minute second quarter — and scored 41 points to the Warriors’ 3 with varsity players on the field at Bruin Stadium. The two sides played two 10:30 quarters in the second half, when junior varsity players took most of their snaps.

“We’ve got a lot of sloppy mistakes,” Northwest coach Josh Robinson said. “There was a lot of good and a lot of bad. ... The penalties were the worst thing. We cost ourselves a first down on the first possession.”

LFO scored a field goal on its second possession, aided by two Northwest penalties, but the Bruins’ defense only allowed one first down the remainder of the half. Northwest’s offense stalled in its first possession, but scored each time after.

Junior Caleb Shiflett looked like a veteran in his first start at quarterback, completing 13 of 17 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior wide receiver Andy Whisenant looked like the big-play receiver, catching a 70-yard touchdown that was called back for holding and then a 26-yard touchdown later in the same drive. Connor Beard, Dylan Joyce and Clay Phillips combined for nine receptions and 108 yards.

But the rushing game was a pleasant surprise for the Bruins.

Senior Jacob Webb, the projected starter, only had two carries for 7 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Kyle Fleming took the rest, carrying eight times for 122 yards and a score. A consistent rushing attack wasn’t present in 2012.

“At times it was good,” Whisenant said of last season’s rushing game. “But not as good as we’d like. Tonight it looked pretty good.”

Northwest finished 6-4 in 2012, and the same in 2011. Both seasons ended shy of the Class 4A state playoffs, an acknowledged goal for the Bruins this season. They begin the regular season Aug. 30 by hosting Pepperell.

Despite looking mostly razor-blade sharp, Robinson still saw miscues.

“I want my guys to have confidence,” Robinson said. “I want my guys to feel they are the best on the field every time out there. If we can cut out the mistakes, we can be. It was a roughing the passer penalty on third and long, a block in the back, a fumble on a pitch, not having a defensive end on the field. Little things like that.”

Sophomore starting linebacker Cyrus Addison broke a finger “just below the knuckle” in the offseason, Robinson said, and did not play. Robinson said Addison will play against Pepperell in two weeks, although he will wear a cast.

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