MERIDEN — The Platt football team showed the good and the bad in its preseason game scrimmage Friday afternoon at Falcon Field.
The Panthers hosted the Simsbury Trojans in their tune-up game ahead of Thursday night’s season opener in Farmington.
The teams played the first half as if it were an actual game, with 12-minute quarters, then played on a time limit for the second half. Also, the quarterbacks were not allowed to be tackled.
There was a lot to look for. Platt goes into the season facing a fair amount of rebuilding after last year’s 4-6 campaign.
The biggest turnover came on defense. A lot of young players are stepping into starting roles and, on Friday, they struggled with some blown coverages and missed tackles
On offense, the Panthers have an experienced line, but are unleashing a brand-new backfield thanks to the graduation of two-year quarterback A.J. Marinelli and a season-ending injury to two-year 1,000-yard rusher E.J. Dudley.
One of Dudley’s replacements, sophomore running back Roberto Salas, sprung for a 60-yard touchdown against Simsbury.
The Panthers also made some big plays on special teams. Tremayne Carter had an 80-yard kick return.
“I thought it was a good scrimmage,” said Platt head coach Jason Bruenn. “It was back and forth. We got a good look at what our varsity does.”
One of the things Bruenn highlighted was how fast his team can exploit an open field.
“You saw the kick return and some of the longer runs. We can be explosive when we want to be.”
Bruenn was, however, disappointed in positioning and knowledge of the playbook.
“We’ve got to shore up things defensively,” he said. “We got guys out of position.
“I am disappointed in some of the mental efforts,” Bruenn added. “Things that we showed them in practice that they still did not get right.”
In the first quarter, Simsbury quarterback Jackson Butler, on a first-and-15 in Panther territory, rolled out right and delivered a strike over the middle for 12 yards. It was a missed assignment in the secondary as the receiver had no one around him. On third and goal, Jeffrey Coleman beat his man for the first score of the game.
Platt’s offense responded on its first drive. On a third-and-5, new quarterback Lorenzo Sanson rolled out right and dumped it to Tremayne Carter, who picked up the first down.
First-year sophomore running back Roberto Salas banged out a few tough runs, then ripped off a 60-yard touchdown up the middle to even the score.
The offensive line looked stout on the drive and played a crucial part in Salas’s run. Guys like Jaylen John helped create the nice hole.
Platt’s defense initially looked tough on Simsbury’s second series. Sophomore linebacker Jasiah Cooper showed he is the anchor in their linebacking group, making a couple of nice tackles at the line, and Theo Watkins had nice coverage on a deep pass down the middle.
Yet the defense struggled after giving up a first down on an offsides call. The line also had a hard time causing any disruption, which gave Butler time to throw and scramble in the pocket. On a third-and-8 in the red zone, Watkins gets beat on a jump ball on a fade route by Jamil Hutchins. That put the Trojans up 14-7.
The Panthers answered immediately on an stellar kickoff return by Carter. He took it back 80 yards with some nice blocking and good running. The score at the half was 14-14.
In the third quarter not much offense was generated from either team until Simsbury exposed Platt’s secondary once again. Evan Conderino caught a 13-yarder and then a 25-yard touchdown after miscommunication left him wide open.
The extra point was blocked, putting the Trojans up 20-14. The Panthers’ offense, however, could not get a rhythm on the ground or in the air and struggled the rest of the game. The game ended after the Trojans scored a rushing touchdown to end the game 26-14 Simsbury.
“We are going to compete,” Bruenn said. “And we are going to work on things harder.”
Platt travels to Farmington to take on the Indians in a CCC Division II crossover on Thursday. Kickoff is 6 p.m.