November 21, 2019

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Donaldsonville vs Baker Scrimmage First Impressions

 

On Thursday night Baker High School (Baker, LA) and Donaldsonville High School (Donaldsonville, LA) faced off in their first live action scrimmage held at Donaldsonville. 

The Buffaloes’ (Baker) first team offense had the first possession of scrimmage, lining up against the first team Tiger (Donaldsonville) defense. From the start, the Buffalo offense sought to establish its run game with its Senior Running Back tandem Kiley Clifton and Desmond Windon. After a few modest gains on the ground, Windon broke away on a critical 3rd down, side-stepping a Tiger defender for a gain of 10 yards. Baker High continued to pound the football on the ground and eventually crossed into Donaldsonville territory. The Buffaloes stuck with their commitment to the run with Quarterback Damien Knighten handing the ball off to Clifton, where he broke through the Tiger front 7 for a gain of 20 yards, putting Baker High inside the Donaldsonville 30 yard line. On the following play, Donaldsonville’s Defensive line stepped up with a huge play amounting in a tackle for loss of 5 yards. Despite this setback, Baker stuck to the script and handed the ball off to Fullback Travonte Spears, who broke into the Donaldsonville secondary for an almost guaranteed touchdown until a huge hit jarred the ball loose, resulting in a recovery for Donaldsonville. 

After the turnover, Baker High opened up the offense with spread concepts, attempting to get their receivers involved. Knighten dropped back in the pocket and quickly completed an out-route to RB Desmond Windon for 8 yards, giving the Buffaloes their first yardage through the air on the night. On the following play, Knighten connected with Junior standout Wide Receiver Eric Randal III for 5 yards and a much needed 1st down. Along with playing WR, Randall also plays defense, where his ability to flock to the ball truly shines. Randal accounted for multiple tackles for loss and hits extremely hard. 

Perhaps the biggest threat on the Buffaloe offense is Senior Wide Receiver Jaylin Pendleton. This scrimmage was Jaylin’s first game back on the field after suffering an injury last season. Pendleton accounted for nearly 100 yards receiving with multiple catches of 10 yards or more, including a beautiful grab against one-on-one coverage for 65 yards. Pendleton solidified himself as a deep threat for the Baker offense, and stated, “I’ve got something to prove this year.” 

Baker’s offense created a multitude of big plays, however, Donaldsonville’s defense remained resilient all night. The Tiger’s defensive unit perfectly encompasses the “bend-don’t-break” philosophy and is highly reminiscent of the turnover-hungry defenses fielded by the University of Miami under past Defensive Coordinator (and now Head Coach) Manny Diaz. Along with a fumble recovery early in the scrimmage, Donaldsonville Middle Linebacker Jared Cayette recorded a beautiful interception that, had it not been blown dead due to the rules of a scrimmage, would have surely been returned for a touchdown. 

Offensively, Donaldsonville struggled to move the ball on the ground against the Baker defensive line. The Tigers tested the run through the A gap multiple times but were continuously swallowed up by Defensive End Jalen Gross and Defensive Tackle Dillion Cage. Gross and Cage’s ability to plug up the interior O-Line and force their way to the ball carrier is uncanny. Expect huge seasons for both of these outstanding Seniors. Eventually, the Tiger Offense adjusted and Donaldsonville Quarterback Joshua Collier moved from under center to the shotgun where he was able to quickly run outside the pocket to avoid Gross and Cage up the middle. Collier used his feet to rush the edges of the defensive line, finding lanes and creative ways for the Donaldsonville offense to move the ball on the ground.

Overall, both squads garner a lot of excitement for the upcoming 2019 season. Baker High School will look to continue making big plays through the air with their talented wide receiver core, alongside a very solid rushing attack. For Donaldsonville, their defense should continue to improve and utilize their philosophy of becoming a turnover factory.