NEWARK – Newark is searching for playmakers, and Kaleb Jarrett found a few of them Thursday at Evans Athletic Complex.
The junior quarterback threw touchdown passes to four receivers in the final 7-on-7 passing scrimmage of the summer against Granville.
“In our first scrimmage against Westerville North, we came out strong, but we were a little flat in the next one against Licking Valley,” said Jarrett, who showed both a strong arm and good touch against the Blue Aces. “We came out much better today.”
Coach Mike Kopachy said the coaches harped on the performance against Valley for the last week and a half.
“It was a good wake-up call,” he said. “The coaches were angry, and we asked the kids to be an angry football team, today.”
Junior Taveon Swift made a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone to get Newark rolling, then Jarrett found junior Michael Pound wide open on a post route. He hit sophomore Ashton Gilkey in stride for another quick score as the Wildcats got the quick start they wanted.
Senior Hayden Thacker figures to be a key part of the Newark arsenal. He made a stellar catch for a TD on a flag route from Jarrett, and later got loose for another score on a post pattern. Sophomore backup Ty Scott also threw a TD pass, to Gilkey.
“We’re finding some playmakers,” Kopachy said. “Thacker and Gilkey played well, and Swift showed why he was one of our go-to-guys last year.”
Jarrett acknowledged that losing leading receiver Darius Shackleford will hurt, but maybe not too badly.
“We’re young, but the young guys are stepping up and making plays,” he said. “I’ve been working with a quarterback coach on my footwork, technique and mechanics, and I think I’m getting better.”
Granville got off to slow start, then the team began to hit its stride. Senior quarterback Kyle Zies found classmate Colin Mulford for the first score on a seam route. Then, freshman QB Cameron Crouch flashed his potential. On his first two throws, he hit seniors Braden Leigh and Thaddeus Winson for touchdowns, then found Winston for another. Sophomore Bob Compton and junior Jack Peterson each came up with interceptions.
“We’ve been putting a lot of new stuff in, and today was a world of difference over our last scrimmage (against Northland),” Winston said. “It’s the first time in a little while we’ve had so many young guys stepping up. On defense, we gave up three touchdowns in the first session, but only one in the second, and that was on a missed assignment.”
Much like last season, coach J.R. Wait has a nice mix of youth and experience.
“Even some of our experienced guys are still young, but we’ve improved,” he said. “Just our tempo on offense, and understanding route combinations. We started slow, but we learned as we went along. (Newark) gave us a great look and played really well.”
Kopachy said he was pleased with his defense.
“We flew around a little bit,” he said. “Dionte Woods did a nice job coming over the top, as well as Ty Scott, and they’re both sophomores. Our linebackers did a nice job on their in routes, which they like to run a lot. Christian Black (sophomore), Chase Richardson (junior), Caleb Denune (senior) and Iziah Culver (junior). They all played well.”
Kopachy said that while Newark is young, the potential is there.
“There’s tremendous upside,” he said. “We have a chance to be good for a long time.”