Kirk Johnson Jr. runs around a defender.

Kirk Johnson Jr. runs around a defender. Ellyson Ortega/The Paisano

The Roadrunners played in their annual spring game on April 18. The game divides offense versus defense and scoring is based upon plays being accurately articulated.

The White team dominated throughout the game and took home a 20-7 victory against the Blue team. Fans were greeted with the return of their starting quarterback, young playmakers to lookout for in the fall and a defense who can cause havoc for opposing offenses.

“I don’t [think] that we can make that determination at this point,” head coach Frank Wilson said.

It is clear that Frank Harris is the favorite to be the starting quarterback in the fall. Harris played the best during the game by going 8-12 in the air for 66 yards and led his team in rushing with 47 yards.

“I think he showed his elusiveness, escapability [and] the ability to extend a play in the run game and the pass game,” Wilson said. “He’s just never down.”

Harris returned to game action for the first time in almost two years after two separate ACL tears sidelined him. When Harris broke a long run, it had been the first time he had been in the open field during game action.

“I kind of got a little nervous there,” Harris said. “Avery went kind of low and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I thought I was going to beat him to the pilon, but he ended up catching me.”

Though Harris shined, Cordale Grundy made his presence known by running for a touchdown during his time under center. Coach Wilson has underscored the importance of competition during spring practice giving Grundy a chance to win the job during the fall. It is unlikely that we will receive a definitive answer on who will lead the offense in their first game of the season against the University of the Incarnate Word.

Youth was a theme of the offense, beginning with quarterback and continuing with the skill positions. Brendan Brady took control of the backfield and ran for 41 yards on six attempts. Brady led all running backs in yards and established himself as a bell cow back for coach Wilson.
Sheldon Jones stood out of the wide receiver group as the potential go-to target for Harris. Jones led all receivers in yards with 43 and has the trust of Harris.

“He’s going to catch anything,” Harris said. “Just throw it up for grabs and somehow number two is going to come down with it.”

Jones’ five-foot nine-inch stature and speed make him an excellent candidate to take the top off of a defense while his much larger counterpart, Tariq Woolen, can be an excellent possession receiver. Woolen stands at six feet five inches and can outmatch most corners for jump balls, which will help an offense ranked as one of the worst in the nation last season.

“This spring we’ve been fighting for sports and everybody has been competing and today we got to show everybody what we’ve been doing,” Jones said.

The strength of the ‘Runners defense was apparent to all that were in attendance just after one quarter. The pressure both teams applied on each quarterback affected every pass attempted. Defensive tackle Jaylon Haynes recorded a sack and two tackles for loss for the White team. Safety Kelechi Nwachuku gave the Blue team one of their loan bright spots of the afternoon by also recording a long sack on Harris inside the red zone.

The next time fans will be able to see the ‘Runners will not be until August 31, when they take the field against the University of the Incarnate Word to open their 2019 season.

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