Abe Roehrich was quick to deflect attention after punishing Rugby High School's defense during a football scrimmage on Friday at Herb Parker Stadium.
In Stanley-Powers Lake's first action of the year against another team, the defending Class A state champions looked sharp in both the running and passing games.
Roehrich, a returning first-team all-state running back, bowled over would-be tacklers and stiff-armed his way to a pair of early touchdowns.
The Blue Jays appeared as lethal through the air as senior quarterback Sam Footh looked comfortable throwing to senior receiver Kale Enget (second-team all-state). The pair connected for a 20-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage on a fade to the right corner.
"It's pretty balanced," Roehrich said. "We got a really good passing game. It's kind of hidden, people don't see it as much. Like last year even, we had a great passing game and it was kind of hidden."
Six high schools competed in the fourth annual event held by the MSU football team. Teams played different schools throughout the evening. One program would play offense for the first 20 minutes of a scrimmage before switching to defense.
Class AA Rugby struggled to wrap up ball carriers and was far from crisp offensively, but coach Scott Grochow was pleased to see his team gain experience against a high-caliber team.
"Stanley's a very good football team with a lot, a lot of experience," Grochow said. "Like I told 'em, 'Guys we're playing a really good football team. You gotta decide how you're gonna handle it.' Hopefully, it's a good learning situation for us.
"They get to understand that when we ask them to do stuff in practice, there's a reason for it."
SPL coach Lyne Enget, Kale's father, is confident in his team's ability to make another run at a state title, but found the Blue Jays to be sluggish against the Panthers. Enget would like to see his players come off the ball stronger on offense and hold their blocks longer.
"This is really a good test for us," Enget said. "It's nice to smash somebody else for a change instead of ourselves. I think we're ready to play. We need to tweak some things."
SPL isn't finished installing its offense, but Footh is eager to pass more with the speedy Kale Enget on the outside and teams focused on stopping Roehrich at the line. The team's balance is also reflected in its players' outlook on defending their title.
"If anybody thinks we're cocky it's actually the complete opposite," Footh said. "Now we know what it takes to get there, so we're working that much harder for it."
Rugby hosts Harvey-Wells County on Friday and Stanley opens the season Saturday at Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn.