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Warriors no easy opener

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Galax's first taste of battle came against possibly the most athletic team it will see all year.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

 RIDGEWAY –– It could have been better, it could have been worse. All in all, it was about what Galax coach Mark Dixon expected.

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Although the final tally sheet showed a somewhat misleading five Magna Vista touchdowns to none for Galax, the Maroon Tide (3-7 last season) held its own for the better part of the two-team friendly against last year’s Region IV Division 4 runner-up.

“Some good things and some not so good things,” said Dixon. “I thought early in the scrimmage we did pretty well. I was pretty happy with it. It’s a learning experience and we’ve got a ways to go. Everybody knows that.”

The scrimmage started out with each team running three series of 10 plays on offense, switched to down and distance for two series each and concluded with one set of downs beginning at the opponent’s 10-yard line.

Neither team reached the end zone during the 10-play portion of the evening, although the Maroon Tide fell a yard short on its final possession. Embarking from its own 40, Galax moved to the Magna Vista 15 with four plays to go. Jordan Vaughan had four carries for 35 yards in the first six plays and Frankie Shalabi caught three Terrance Mazon passes for 14 yards. A 6-yard Vaughan carry had the Maroon Tide at the Warrior 4 with one play to go, but Vaughan was cut down a yard short of the end zone on the final play of the set.

Magna Vista, which snapped a 21-game losing streak last year with a 7-5 season ending with a 14-7 loss to Salem in the Region IV title game, got nothing to show for its first three possessions, although the Warriors got close enough on two drives for final-play heaves into the end zone. Magna Vista finally reached paydirt with a defensive touchdown on the first series of down-and-distance as a fourth-and-5 Maroon Tide pass was picked off by cornerback Deshawn Penn and returned 48 yards for a score.

The Warriors’ superior size and depth, and the athletic ability of quarterback Harvey Taylor, took over from there. Taylor accounted for all but 8 of the 65 yards Magna Vista covered on its first down-and-distance series, completing one pass for 10 yards and carrying four times for 55 yards, including a 1-yard scoring plunge.

Taylor scored on a juking 24-yard carry on the Warriors’ next possession.

“I think it’ll be maybe the best team we see, athletically,” Dixon said. “Radford will be up there and Carroll next week will be a lot the same, but I think we got worn down a little bit as it went on.”

The scrimmage concluded with each team taking a four-play series from the opponent’s 10, with Galax going four-and-out on its drive. Magna Vista’s T.C. Carter scored on the first play of the Warriors’ set, and Magna Vista ran its final three plays anyway, ending the night with an acrobatic 1-yard TD catch by Monte Pilson.

“Overall it’s about what I thought it would be coming down here,” Dixon said. “We’re about where I thought we’d be.”

Galax travels to Carroll County for the two teams’ benefit game Friday. The Tide opens regular season play Aug. 25 at home against Northwood.