BY ISAAC THOMAS
For The Times
Gainesville rounded out the first half of its preseason scrimmage like it was in midseason form against Winder-Barrow.
Red Elephants senior running back Naim Cheeks had a dazzling 60-yard touchdown run on the final play of the second quarter, shortly after junior quarterback Baxter Wright took it almost 70 yards for another score en route to a 34-3 win Friday at City Park Stadium.
Against a big and physical front for the Bulldoggs, Gainesville drove it down the field on the opening drive, scoring on a throw to a wide open tight end Sky Niblett.
After troubles with penalties, Gainesville rebounded with the long touchdowns shortly before intermission.
Overall, Gainesville had 475 yards of offense, which was pleasing to its first-year coach Josh Niblett.
Cheeks, a four-year starter for Gainesville, finished with 132 yards of offense.
Wright accounted for 164 yards and two touchdowns, before leaving the game early in the second half to let junior varsity players see more action.
Also, junior wide receiver Travien Watson got into the game with a couple big grabs in the first quarter.
“We don’t call plays, we call players,” Niblett said. “We try to put the ball in the hands of our best playmakers, and we don’t want to turn around on Saturday and say, ‘man, I wish that guy had gotten more touches.’”
Next up, Gainesville opens the regular season with a huge test against Marist, the 2020 Class 4A state champion, in Atlanta.