STRASBURG – Friday night lights came a week early in Strasburg.
The Rams hosted Moorefield (West Virginia) in a football scrimmage on Friday night and had a strong showing. The clock was run just like a normal game, but no score was kept. If the score had been kept the Rams would have had a 13-3 victory. Strasburg head coach Mark Roller said he was happy with what he saw from his team.
“I was very pleased with the way we played,” Roller said after the scrimmage. “We ran the ball well. We threw the ball well. We played well on defense. I was very, very happy with the way our defense played. We didn’t give up many yards, running the ball wise. They had a good running back. I was very pleased with how we handled their spread offense and their quickness of running plays. I think we still have some work to do, but I’m happy with where we are right now as a team.”
Roller said he was happy with the play of his defensive line, led by Levi Miller, Patchrick Kennedy, and Hunter Miller.
“We’ve got some guys that return (from last year) up front,” Roller said. “I think our defense is going to be the key this year.”
In the final minute of the first half, the Rams used a goal-line stand to keep Moorefield from scoring.
“We had that big goal-line stand down there, and I thought that was a big boost.”
The Rams put together several long drives during the game, including two that ended with touchdowns. Jalen Bray scored on a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Strasburg quarterback Chase Hart threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Kloosterman in the second quarter.
OFFENSIVE LINE DEPTH: Strasburg junior offensive lineman Alec Campbell did not play due to injury, but junior Kane Palmer filled in at left guard and the team didn’t miss a beat.
Roller said he expects Campbell to be back for the regular-season opener against Stonewall Jackson on Aug. 24, but he was pleased with how Palmer played.
“He hasn’t played since his eighth-grade year,” Roller said of Palmer. “So he’s finally back out as a junior and we’ve been very pleased with the way he’s come along.”
The other starters on the offensive line for the scrimmage were Kennedy (right tackle), Hunter Miller (right guard), Levi Miller (center) and Brandon Swafford (left tackle). Roller said he believes they have some good depth on the offensive line, which could be key throughout the season.
“We have some guys there that can step in,” he said. “And I’m pleased with that because right now we have two seniors – Levi (Miller) was hurt last year and Hunter (Miller) has been a three-year starter. So he’s kind of the one that’s been anchoring the line. And he’s the leader of that group. And we have younger guys that they’re not quite there yet, but they’re getting there that they can spell those guys that are going two ways.”
INTO THE SPOTLIGHT: Last year the Rams’ ground game was led by Austin Miller, who ran for 1,209 yards and 19 touchdowns. Austin Miller graduated in May and now it’s Bray who is emerging as the Rams’ top running threat.
Bray, a junior, had a solid game against Moorefield, including a 22-yard scamper on the first play of the second half.
“Jalen ran the ball hard,” Roller said. “He’s one of those guys that when he sees the hole he hits it. And it doesn’t look like he’s running very hard at first, but then once he squirts through there he’s kind of getting it.”
Bray was second on the team last year with 250 yards rushing and one touchdown. Roller said last year they realized Bray had potential to be a solid running back.
“He’s been in the shadows last year and we saw glimpses of what he could do last year,” Roller said. “So this is the year for him to step up and show us what he has.”