VILLA RICA — There were some positives and negatives for the Villa Rica during its home scrimmage versus Alexander on Friday night.
But it was how the team finished that left first-year head coach Rico Zackery optimistic for what his guys are capable of once the games officially count.
Although scores weren't technically kept by coaching staffs and officials, the Wildcats did manage to defeat the visiting Cougars by a slim, 28-24 margin in a sparring match before their official 2017 season debut next Friday.
The mistakes were prevalent for VR to open the exhibition, as it worked to find a rhythm.
During their first two drives, Alexander quarterback Mason Wood managed to rip right through the Wildcat defense in short order, finding senior receivers Joel Phillips and and Michiah Randolph for a pair of early touchdowns to put them up 14-0. Meanwhile, the VR offense also suffered early miscues as starting quarterback Kelvin Stevenson was picked off on just the second play from scrimmage.
After the ominous start, the Wildcat offense started to get rolling in the second quarter.
A methodical drive dominated by the running back committee of Mecose Todd, Phillip Zachery and DuShaunte Holloway ultimately resulted in a one-yard Todd touchdown that put them in business. Todd would find the end zone again later in the quarter when he caught a 22-yard back shoulder fade from Stevenson to give the Purple and Gold their second touchdown of the evening.
After both teams rested their starters in the third quarter, the fresh VR offense really got into gear in the fourth as a 27-yard touchdown reception from Zachery and a four-yard scamper from Todd put the Wildcats up 28-24 in the contest.
After trying to apply pressure to Wood and the Cougar offense all night, the VR defense, led by seniors Paul Grace and Malik Kelley, came up big in crunch time, defending the west end zone with a last-minute goal-line stand to end the scrimmage.
Zackery gave his assessment of his team's first night of live action.
"It was a scrimmage, so we knew there were going to be some mistakes," Zackery said. "They had some mental mistakes in the beginning, but I told them beforehand that if you make mistakes, make them at full speed. They were able to get the butterflies out of their system and finished strong in the fourth. One thing we preach in our plan to win is to finish the game and that's what they did. We weren't worried about scores or anything like that, but it was a moral victory for us because that fourth quarter was huge."