New head coach Tommy Parks and his Upson-Lee Knights football team made their first public appearance at the 2014 Spring Football Game at Matthews Field on Thursday. The team was split into two different squads, the Black Knights and the White Knights, with each squad being equally divided with linemen and skill players.
Quarterbacks Kalen Puckett, Mikey Smith, and Kendarious Traylor played for both the White and Black Knights, as did kicker Rich Stewart. After just eight days of practice, the Knights looked organized both offensively and defensively. Just a few noticeable differences were the Knights offensive line zone blocking scheme, and the defense in a 4-2-5 formation.
“I felt the coaches were able to develop relationships and install our plans for the summer,” said Parks. “We had somewhat of a physical spring and zero major injuries, which is always a plus. As far as the game went, I felt like we moved to the ball well defensively and we only had one turnover on offense. I liked our offensive tempo and I think Coach Robinson was also happy with the fact that the guys are getting an idea of what we are trying to do. It’s not what we know as coaches, but it’s what the players know when they get on the field.”
The Black Knights jumped on board first with a five-yard run from quarterback Kalen Puckett. Juwan Adams set up the scoring play with some nice runs of his own during the drive. Puckett made a great read on the scoring play, pulling the ball from Adams grasp and keeping it himself as he pranced into the end zone for the score. Upcoming sophomore Rich Stewart’s PAT was good, and the Black Knights led by a 7-0 score.
In the second quarter of the game the White Knights tied the game up with Puckett showing off his arm and O’qualon Harris showing off his hands and speed. Puckett connected with Harris on a slant pattern for a 25-yard TD pass. Harris caught the pass in stride, turned on the jets, and split two defenders for the score. Stewart once again nailed the PAT and the game was tied 7-7.
Unfortunately the White Knights would not score again in the contest. However, later in the second quarter the Black Knights would score once again on the legs of their quarterback. Kalen Puckett took off on a 45-yard run before being ran out of bounds. On the very next play, Puckett scored from 15 yards out on a quarterback keeper. Stewart once again was good with his PAT, and the Black Knights led 14-7.
The Black Knights added to their lead just before halftime. After a long drive, it was Juwan Adams who plowed his way into the end zone from four yards out, just as the first half ended. Stewart’s PAT was good and the Black Knights led 21-7.
In the second half of the game, Coach Parks went with some of his younger players to get an eye on them. Mikey Smith took over at quarterback for the Black Knights, and capped off the last scoring drive of the game with a 2-yard TD run. Stewart’s PAT was good, and that sealed the Black Knights’ 28-7 victory.
The Knights will now turn their attention to summer workouts. Upson-Lee will not put the pads back on until August, as they prepare for their 2014 season in Region 2.