Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson showed in Friday’s scrimmage against Grayson he hasn’t lost a step since steering the team to a state title run in 2012.
And Red Elephants coach Bruce Miller got a glimpse in the 28-27 exhibition win of some of his players who are ready to step in and fill key roles on the field.
“I thought as a whole we had a great first half,” said Miller, who let younger players see the majority of playing time in the second half.
Gainesville opens the regular season against West Forsyth on Aug. 30 in Cumming.
Watson finished 11-for-13 passing for 130 yards, including a string of eight completed passes in back-to-back touchdown drives in the second quarter. Senior running back Jay Gaudlock hauled in a touchdown pass of 20 yards early in the second quarter, followed by a 3-yard touchdown catch by junior Rodney Lackey before the half.
Watson, the state’s all-time career passing leader after a 4,000-yard junior campaign, gave way to his backup Mikey Gonzalez for a pair of first-quarter drives and the entire third quarter. Gonzalez made the most of his time by completing 7 of 16 passes for 100 yards.
Facing a third and 10 late in the first half, Gonzalez hit Gaudlock in stride and the receiver managed to throw off a couple of defenders with his change of direction along the sideline for a gain of 62.
Michael Byrd scored on the following play with a run of 19.
“Deshaun and Mikey both played well at quarterback,” Miller said.
After a slow start on throws in the backfield on the opening two drives, Watson started airing it out more like his regular-season form in the second quarter.
On his first touchdown drive, he completed a pair of passes to Byrd, and another to Mesiah Dorsey and Gaudlock (6 catches, 105 yards).
On Watson’s second touchdown drive, he hit Chastin Newman in stride for a pick up of 28, followed immediately by a catch by Gaudlock for a gain of 17.
Among the receivers, Miller also commended the work of Orrin Ragland, who had three catches for 25 yards. On defense, it was senior linebacker Devan Stringer with the most notable performance with his three stops in the backfield.
Leading 28-19 late in the fourth quarter, Grayson scored on an 18-yard run by Deshaun Warren and Jordan Teller ran it in for the two-point conversion.
Aares McCall was Grayson’s leading rusher with 14 carries for 130 yards. Cameryn Brent (12 carries, 50 yards) scored for the Rams on a run from the 1 late in the first quarter.
Rams junior quarterback Hunter Schuessler completed 3 of 5 passes for 25 yards.
In the third quarter, Grayson’s Bradley Bonner, a senior linebacker, picked up a fumbled at its 20 after a Gainesville receiver fumbled a catch and ran it in for a touchdown. Bonner also broke up a pair of passes.
Grayson opens the season against Colquitt County in the Corky Kell Classic on Aug. 24 at the Georgia Dome.