SALLISAW - Grove's four-way scrimmage with Sallisaw, Stigler and Sequoyah Tahlequah had it all Friday night; the good, the not so good, and the downright ugly for all four teams.
In other words, it was a typical first scrimmage of the season.
"I love scrimmage time," Grove head coach Dennis Millican said afterward. "It shows you exactly where you're at, where you're headed and what you need to work on and what our kids are capable of. It was exactly what I thought it would be."
The Ridgerunner offense was especially impressive throughout much of the night. Each team got three 12-play possessions against each of the other three team's defenses, while also getting three defensive series. Each series began on the opponent's 40-yard line.
Grove's offense moved down the field quickly in their first possession against Sallisaw, one of the favorites to win District 4A-4. A pair of completions by quarterback Adam Steffenson and a pair of runs by Benny Steffenson moved the ball inside the 10-yard line. But in a recurring theme for all the teams Friday night, the ball was fumbled away.
"Execution and hanging on to the ball were two things that stood out," Millican said. "We don't hit much in practice. We started getting hit on the arms and elbows and different places and it threw us off-balance, whether it was tackling or blocking or running with the football."
The offense would score touchdowns against both Sequoyah in Stigler, with Steffenson running both scores in.
The Grove defense also made several big plays, including an interception by Cameron Smith against Sequoyah. But the Ridgerunners also struggled against inside runs and gave up several big plays in the air.
"We saw a wing-t, a spread-t," Millican said, noting the wide variety of offensive formations in the scrimmage. "We didn't work on those things in practice. "We'll have a scouting report [for regular season games] and that's where our coaches will be smart. I was happy at the end we went against one of the best quarterbacks in the state in [Sequoyah's] Brayden Scott and we put him on the run a bit. But we can't give one up over the top and make it easy."
The Ridgerunners will next travel to Bishop Kelley for a scrimmage on Friday.
"Staying healthy and moving forward is the main thing," Millican said. "We're young in certain spots. I think we did what was expected."