High school football scrimmages can be useful in evaluating teams and players but you have to take them with a grain of salt. It's difficult to know how players will react in live game situations and to momentum, either positive or negative.
That having been said, I came away from Friday morning's three-team scrimmage at Cleveland with Hunt and Fayetteville Terry Sanford without a sense of being overwhelmed by anyone. Well, I was slightly impressed with the size of several of the Terry Sanford players. As far as Hunt and Cleveland, neither the Warriors nor the Rams resembled the squads that took to the field for the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-AA playoffs last November. Granted, I was there mainly to take photos and didn't keep any stats or notes other than the mental ones I was making, but here are my observations:
• Hunt needs to work on snapping and handing off the ball. Numerous fumbles on exchanges were easily the biggest problem the Warriors had. But those usually get fixed in short order.
• There are some young ball carriers for Hunt that could be big-time players by November. However, I don't think any of them will make Warriors fans forget Josh Joyner any time soon. Senior Dexter Wright showed some runner's instincts as well. At 6-foot-3, Dexter reminds me of Kelvin Bryant as he slashes his way through the secondary.
• Hunt sophomore QB Jacob Williamson proved tough to sack but he always showed a tendency to run into trouble rather than away from it at times. Still, it will be fun watching him develop.
• While Wright's presence is a constant in the Hunt secondary, the Warriors will need some other defenders to step up and assert themselves, especially on the line. I liked the hustle of Aaron Smith and certainly Ervin Speight is going to be around the ball and Malik Williams is a big-time corner but Hunt's brand is built on D and those kids are going to have to live up to that. The unit played well overall but gave up too many big plays and hung its head at times.
• While I wasn't blown away by Hunt (and I wasn't expecting to be at a 9 a.m. scrimmage), I also thought Cleveland was a ways from where the Rams were last year. Isaac Martin (I'm guessing that No. 3 at QB) is still a big threat but the Rams struggled with execution, not surprising in that spread offense. I guess when it's working well, it's hard to stop but in mid-August, the power running game is going to be more impressive.
• Yes, those Terry Sanford kids were big but that's not surprising given the Bulldogs are moving down from the 4-A Mid-South Conference to the 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference and — hello! — it's Fayetteville. They're always big down there.
• Having seen a glimpse of Hunt, I think the Warriors can be very good again but probably not where they were the past three years. If they can beat Southern Nash, they can be Big East champions again. Wilmington New Hanover in week 3 will be a tough opponent and a long stretch of road games will be hard on the players. If I had to guess, I'll say Hunt will go 9-2.
• I really like morning football. I just wish they had coffee for sale at Cleveland.