Rams Hit Gridiron for First Time in 70 Years
On Saturday, August 20, at Mitchell Stadium in front of a true audience of fans, family and friends, the Rams took the field and ran their first plays in 70 years.

Rams Hit Gridiron for First Time in 70 Years

August 20, 2011 | RSS

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By Jonathan Greene of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph



Leading up to the Bluefield Rams' first scrimmage, head coach Mike Gravier said, 'if all we know is five plays, then we'll run five plays.'


On Saturday night, August 21, 2011 at Mitchell Stadium in front of a true audience of fans, family and friends, the Rams took the field and ran their first plays in 70 years.


"We had a few more than five tonight, but there weren't very many more," Gravier said. "I kept the packages very small. We ran similar plays out of different formations over and over again. I didn't give them a whole lot. There's a lot more left on my computer for this group."


With the limited playbook, Gravier and his staff kept expectations low.


"We started out very slow on offense," he said. "I was disappointed early on, but then we started to get some things going offensively. Deep down, its probably what we expected. We made some mistakes. We ran some wrong routes. We had to many penalties. I expected our defense to fly around which they've done all camp."


The offense struggled to move the ball early on. Their lone big positive play was an 18-yard run by quarterback Terrance Mazon. For most of the early part, the defense stuffed the running game and had the quarterbacks scrambling.


"They've been performing that way all camp," Gravier said. "They've really been flying around. They have some tremendous athletes on that side of the ball. It's really what I expected out of them."


The defense had two interceptions — one by Yodillion Jeanty and another by Zach Wilson — to go a long with two fumble recoveries.


"That was a little frustrating early on," Gravier said. "I told the quarterbacks I wasn't sure we were going to get a first down tonight. Told people the worst thing that could happen tonight was a 0-0 tie. I kept envisioning a 0-0 tie. We need to fix that. We work on that everyday. We'll work a little bit harder on it everyday."


The offense did find its groove as Jake Jackson threw touchdown passes to PikeView product Joel Calfee and Rodney Leeper and K.J. Bryant scored a rushing touchdown.


"It was pretty fun," Jackson said afterwards. "We still need to do more work. It was fun playing football for the first time at Bluefield."


Outside of the two touchdown passes, Jackson was picked off once and had a few other near interceptions. Jackson did have a nice 43-yard completion to Leeper.


"I think we're not there yet as an offense," Jackson added. "We all need to come together. We need to improve. I think we'll be better in the future."


Mazon also saw significant time under center. He was picked off once.


"Inconsistent. That's probably the best word I can use," Gravier said of his quarterbacks. "They did some good things. They did some things that they shouldn't of done. It's just a matter of growing and learning our reads. I think they're trying to make to much happen sometimes."


The running game had nearly as many positive yardage plays as negative, but that can be expected with freshmen offensive lineman still learning and being moved around. The defense finished with at least seven sacks unofficially.


"They realize we've got a lot to learn," Gravier said of his team. "We have a long way to go. We'll build on that. We did some positive things. Now that they see the speed of the game and how we want things, I think they'll adjust to that as well."


After spending the last few weeks at Pocahontas practicing, Gravier and the team was happy to get out on the field and play in a game-like situation..


"It's been a long time coming," he said. "It's just fun to finally get out here in that situation. It's just like doing a play. You rehearse, rehearse, rehearse then you finally have opening night. It's an exciting time for us. I know the kids were jacked up and ready to play."


Bland County product Dylan Kidd added, "It's a lot more fun than practice. It's exciting." The players and coaches both were excited about the turnout by fans for an inter-squad scrimmage.


"It was nice," Kidd said. "It gave us a nice preview of what it's going to be like during the regular season. It's a lot more fun than being out at Pocahontas with nobody but trees and birds. It was nice."


Gravier commented, "It was great to see them come out. Hopefully, they'll stay. We're going to get better. Hopefully, the support continues to build."