Rockets get a test of region foes
The Forrest Jamboree is always a fair indicator of what is to come for the Rockets in the regular season and this year's event was no different as the home squad edged Huntland 14-7 and blanked Fayetteville 21-0 after the ninth grade unit lost to Riverdale 33-6 Friday night at "The Rock" in Chapel Hill.
"Our kids responded well and that's what I want to see, they came out on fire with intensity and played Forrest football and I was proud to see that," said Forrest head coach Matt Kriesky.
The Forrest ninth graders kicked off the Jamboree versus a formidable Riverdale squad that had several talented athletes.
The young Warriors lit the scoreboard on the game's first possession before the Rockets countered with their only scoring drive of the contest.
Dylan Pendley and Scrappy Osborne teamed up for six yards on the ground before Troy Turner busted loose for a first down.
Forrest quarterback Layton Bennett passed to a wide-open Turner on the next play for nine yards and Branson Beech followed with a run down to the Riverdale 27-yard line, but the Warrior defense stiffened up, setting up a fourth down and one yard situation for the Rockets with 6:41 remaining in the first of two quarters.
Reaching end zone
Bryton Spitzley crashed through to move the chains and on the next play, Bennett hooked up with Spitzley on a pass play for a first and goal at the seven-yard line.
Two plays later, Beech found the end zone, making it a 7-6 contest.
Riverdale would score gain before the first quarter ended and in the second quarter, the Warriors scored 20 points off three Forrest turnovers, while shutting down the Rockets on defense.
"I was really proud of the JV kids, they came out on fire, but Riverdale got the edge a couple times and we just didn't have enough speed and we got blocked up," said Kriesky. "They came out and competed, the score doesn't look very good, but I am proud of them and they will only get better."
The Chapel Hill faithful were ready for a look at the big boys and in the second game, Huntland served early notice that the prep season was underway as they took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead.
The Hornets were helped out by two big penalties on the Rockets before D.J. Taylor scored on the ground and Austin Scott added the extra point.
The Rockets had to begin their first drive of the game deep in their own territory at the 10-yard line after bobbling the kickoff.
Zach McClendon was met at the line by a bevy of Hornets on the first play before Chance Hargrove found a little daylight for a six yard gain.
Rockets hit back
McClendon would get the first down on his next rush and McClendon would get the Rockets on the scoreboard on the ensuing play when he took a pass over the middle from Jacob Jones and raced 80 yards for the touchdown.
Javier Rios' extra point was good and the game was knotted at seven apiece.
Taylor would garner a first down run on the next Huntland series before the Rockets defense bowed up, stopping the Hornets on four straight plays to take over the rock at the Hornets' 45-yard line.
Clay Watson busted loose on first down, scampering all the way down to the Huntland 26-yard line and three plays later, Hargrove was in the end zone, giving Forrest the lead for good.
Rios' PAT was good again and his kickoff put the Hornets at their own 30-yard line.
Tristen Sawyer's big tackle spurred the Forrest defense in the next series and Huntland elected to punt the ball away instead of trying a fourth down desperation play and the scrimmage ended with a Rockets win.
"Once again our Achilles Heel is starting out slow and we did that against Huntland, but after the second series, we started playing," said Kriesky. "Don't take anything away from Huntland, they were doing a heck of a job moving the ball on us and mixing it up."
The Rockets will travel to Franklin County for a Week 6 regular season tilt at the Hornet's nest.
In the last scrimmage of the evening, the Rockets took Fayetteville City, a squad that gave them a tough test before Forrest pulled away for a 35-14 win in Lincoln County in the 2013-2014 season finale.
The two squads will once again meet in the final week of the season, but this time the tilt will be at "The Rock".
The contest was spirited and the hitting was hard the entire quarter of action that saw the Rockets jump out to an early 7-0 lead.
Forrest started at their own 20-yard line and came out quick, scoring on a McClendon touchdown six plays into the game, but the score was called back on a clipping penalty.
On the next play, facing a first down and 22-yards to go, Watson busted loose again, taking the pigskin all the way the Tigers' one-yard line where McClendon leaped over top of the defense for a touchdown.
Rios' boot was true to form, making it 7-0 with 9:10 remaining in the scrimmage.
The Rockets' defense stopped Fayetteville cold to force a three-and-out and the home squad wasted no time opening up a bigger margin over the Tigers.
Jones and McClendon executed a nice pass and run on first down, setting the ball in Fayetteville territory at the 37-yard line.
After a Tiger stop, Austin Harmon came up with a big gainer to the 10-yard line where Hargrove busted loose and went head over heels at the pylon for the score and the PAT was good, giving Forrest a two-touchdown lead.
The Tigers began to roar on offense, driving the ball all the way to the Forrest eight-yard line where Blake Leonard came up with a loose football with 3:16 left in the festivities.
The next drive was the Joseph Williams show as the junior tailback went wild, gaining 25 yards on three touches as the Rockets moved to the Fayetteville 41-yard line where Watson ran for 19 more yards to the 20 before Williams finished the job, bursting through the Tigers' defense for the score and the Rios successful PAT ended the contest.
"I'm extremely proud of the kids, they responded well, I'll be honest with you, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we had three pretty hard days of practice," said Kriesky. "The kids came out every single day and went to work and they did everything we asked them to do and it showed tonight and I'm hoping it will carry over next week when we go down to Lauderdale County."