WEST MEMPHIS — To all but Bobby Bolding it looked like the Pine Bluff Zebras checked off all the boxes in their preseason scrimmage here Monday night.
The aerial game, led by hot-handed junior quarterback Ladarius Skelton, was mid-season sharp.
The ground game, led by Kentorious White, picked its spots well and cashed in on some big plays.
The defense, with the exception of one series, was stingy.
It all added up to a 35-7 victory in two quarters worth of score-keeping in the Zebras’ final preseason scrimmage before opening at Fort Smith Northside on Sept. 5.
Still, the Pine Bluff head coach wouldn’t relent on the superlatives.
“We’ve got a lot to fix, especially on defense,” Bolding said, straight-faced. “We made some mistakes in every phase of the game. We played hard for the most part, but we’ve gotta big a little more physical.”
The rather stern evaluation, perhaps done strategically, didn’t match what actually happened on the field.
Skelton lit up the West Memphis secondary, hitting on 7 of his first 8 passes for 148 yards. The junior signal-caller ended two quarters worth of play completing 9 of 13 for 192 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The effort was marred only by an interception Skelton threw in the second quarter.
“(Skelton) has had a really good summer and he’s worked hard all year, and we all have come to expect that from him,” said Bolding. “I think he made two bad reads tonight, one of which we caught.”
Skelton’s most dazzling play of the night came in the second quarter when he was flushed out of the pocket and almost sacked. He threw on the run against his body and found a leaping Simmons for a touchdown.
The early portion of the scrimmage was two sets of scripted plays, 10 for each offense. On Pine Bluff’s second 10-play set, it suffered a turnover.
But once the score was kept after the scripting, the Zebras were untouchable.
White scored on touchdown runs of 30 and 21 yards and wide receiver Tyran Simmons made two leaping touchdown catches.
West Memphis’ only score of the two quarters came from senior Stanley Gaines on a 46-yard scamper which cut the Zebras’ lead at the time to 14-7.
“There were about four or five plays on defense we weren’t in the right alignment, but for the most part it was fine” Bolding added.
Although no score was kept in the final quarter of play that found both teams using their reserves, the Zebras once again dominated that portion of the scrimmage.