Eagles wrap up drills with Maroon-Gray contest
N.C. Central’s Gray team got a 10-6 win against their fellow Eagles wearing Maroon during an intrasquad scrimmage that wrapped up spring drills at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on Friday.
“It’s the second year we’ve done Friday night lights, so to speak,” NCCU coach Henry Frazier III said. “It was a fairly packed house out here. It was a beautiful night for football.”
Frazier bucked tradition and divided the Eagles into two teams, as opposed to making it a session of offense against defense. That move, which included special teams, gave an estimated 3,000-plus fans more of a game-like experience.
“It was just like a game from A to Z,” Frazier said.
The Eagles open the season on Aug. 31 against Duke in the Bull City Gridiron Classic at Wallace Wade Stadium. Gray linebacker Tazmon Foster returned an interception 20 yards that led to a touchdown at the end of the second half when wide receiver Lamar Scruggs hauled in a deflected, 30-yard pass from quarterback Quenton Rucker.
On Day 1 of spring practice, Foster said he had in him some more highlight-reel material that established him as a playmaker.
“I’m just trying to make plays for my team,” Foster said. “I can’t take any reps off, because I know my team needs me on defense because we lost a lot on defense last year.”
NCCU lost quite a bit on offense, too, such as wide receiver Geovonie Irvine and running back Arthur Goforth having used up their eligibility.
Irvine walked through the stadium during the game, and Goforth was on the field afterward.
Frazier said it’s time for next Irvines and Goforths to come forth.
“You just put the onus on the young guys and say, ‘Hey, who’s going to be the next so-and-so, the next so-and-so?’ and you challenge them,” Frazier said. “They know those guys were special for us, so now who’s going to be the next one?”
Maroon quarterback Jordan Reid was one of four quarterbacks getting reps during what was his final spring game. He said he’s among the seniors who must provide leadership for the younger Eagles.
“I’m the old head around now,” Reid said. “It’s kind of different being the old guy on the team.”
Reid became the starting quarterback after outplaying Matt Goggans, who was poised in the pocket for the Gray team, going through several progressions before firing passes.
Frazier said all of his quarterbacks did some nice things out there on the field, but he singled out Malcolm Bell.
“I know it wasn’t live on the quarterback, but that little freshman was running around today doing some good, little things,” Frazier said. “He kind of brings a smile on your face. We’ve got four of them running around. It’s going to be fun.”
The game-oriented format also added some heft to what Frazier said at the beginning of spring practice about the need for his players to do something different in order to get a different result than last season, when the Eagles came up short on their goal of a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.
NCCU is coming off of its first winning season since 2007, finishing 6-5, 5-3 in the MEAC. But the Eagles had to settle for third place in the league.
On the off chance that S.C. State coach Buddy Pough or N.C. A&T coach Rod Broadway slipped into the stands to check out the Eagles, the wonder is whether they’d be concerned by what they saw on the field.
“Well, I don’t know. Those are old, crafty veterans,” Frazier said. “But, uh, they should be.”