Banged-up Science Hill wasn’t exactly injury riddled in a scrimmage against Sullivan South on Monday at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
The Hilltoppers were without quarterback Malik McGue (concussion), running back/linebacker Trey Sutton (groin), defensive back/wideout Malik Stephens (knee) and linebacker Costa Kalogeros (concussion), but moved the ball seemingly at will against a physical-looking Rebels squad.
Quarterback Justin Bedard and skill players such as Mikey White, Elijah Mathes and Marcus Patton, among others, generated big play after big play on the fast track at Science Hill.
“I was encouraged,” Science Hill coach Stacy Carter. “Sam (Haynie) has got a good team. I think South’s going to win a lot of games this year. ... We moved the ball against Knox West (Friday), too.”
McGue suffered a concussion against West. He’s expected back soon, as is Stephens, who hurt his knee during baseball season.
Carter would like to be as confident about the status of Sutton and Kalogeros. Sutton could be the top linebacker and one of the top running backs, though White piled up yardage at ease carrying the ball Monday. White also made it look easy playing receiver.
“Mikey was impressive,” Carter said.
Carter also noted T.J. Delaney, Jacob Laughlin and Bedard running the ball well.
“Justin ran physical,” Carter said, “and he improvised and made some good throws. … It’s pretty good to have two good quarterbacks.”
Bedard rolled left on one play and avoided a sack then scrambled back across the field and found Marcus Patton for a 45-yard TD pass (some 20-25 yards came after the catch).
Carter was especially impressed with the Hilltoppers’ performance three days after scrimmaging West.
“It’s tough scrimmaging on a Friday and then Monday,” Carter said. “I thought our kids responded well. … It was good to get a lot of young guys reps.”
Laughlin helped create a jarring stalemate of a collision with talented 6-foot-3, 220-pound quarterback Dylan Wieger at the end of a 6-yard run near the right sideline at the Science Hill 9-yard line. Laughlin also dropped Wieger for a loss on a designed running play.
Inside linebacker Cameron Hill helped an early goal-line stand by the Hilltoppers with a tackle for loss on a third-down play.
Among Wieger’s highlights were a 17-yard TD run on a shotgun sweep to the right and a long completion to Josh Booker thanks to a difficult throw by Wieger across his body. Booker did a good job holding on to an accurately thrown ball between two defenders for a 9-yard TD.
Science Hill will scrimmage Greeneville on Aug. 21.
Former Science Hill football player Daniel Norris had arguably his best start on the mound Sunday since being promoted to New Hampshire.
Norris, a 21-year-old left-hander, struck out eight and walked none while allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings at Reading. Norris yielded five hits to the Fightin Phils.
“I felt good yesterday,” Norris said via text during a 10-hour bus ride Monday afternoon. “Putting the ball where I wanted it. I didn’t shake my catcher off one time the entire game. First game in my life I’ve ever done that. I just focused on execution of quality pitches.”
Norris is 9-1 with a 2.38 ERA this season in combined statistics with Dunedin and New Hampshire. He has 135 strikeouts and 35 walks in 102 innings, and opponents are batting .219.
Norris’ name came up a number of times during trade talks in July, but he wasn’t sorry that a deal wasn’t done.
“Trade deadline was kinda crazy,” he said. “Stoked to still be a Blue Jay. I wanna be a homegrown player in their system, even though I can’t control what happens.”
Norris said he’s looking forward to getting back home after the season and watching some Science Hill football and roaming the sideline with assistant coach Benny Tolley.
There was nothing cheap about Clinton Freeman’s first professional home run. The former East Tennessee State/ David Crockett player launched one last week for the Arizona Dodgers.
“It was a long one,” Freeman said. “It was one I probably could’ve got in trouble watching. It was one of the farthest balls I’ve ever hit. ... It would’ve been in the creek at ETSU. I was grinning a little bit.”
Freeman was looking for a fastball and got a changeup that was thrown too hard. He said backspin helped the length of the home run, as did the harder baseballs, professional wood bats and the Arizona air.
Freeman is hitting .345 in his rookie season despite rarely playing on back-to-back days. Arizona is a handy location for the Dodgers to rehab bonus babies, and being in an organization laden with talented first baseman doesn’t help either.
But Freeman anticipates playing two out of every three days the rest of the way. He’s being used at first base, designated hitter and played one game in right field, where he’s continuing to practice.
He said it’s also helped his batting to have fast players hitting in front of him and Scott De Jong batting behind him.
Freeman said one benefit to playing for Tony Skole at ETSU was learning how to go about things with a brisk tempo, something he’s even stressed to a lot of his younger teammates in Arizona.
Freeman was especially happy to have his girlfriend (Lara) and her mother (Jennifer) in attendance for his first home run. They visited the Grand Canyon during the trip – not that they were looking for Freeman’s first home run ball.