With both teams opting to participate in a Week Zero game, Marietta and Healdton had to make the most of their one scrimmage Friday night at Horton Field. 

Defenses, for the most part, tend to dominate early scrimmage action, and the Indians’/Bulldogs’ scrimmage was no different. 

Only three touchdowns were scored and few yards were gained, especially up the middle. 

The teams went through three sets of downs using their ones, twos and threes — in that order. 

In the first-team varsity competition, Marietta ran 12 plays with 61 yards of net gain. 

Healdton fared a bit better with its first-teamers. On the second play, Bulldog senior running back Trenton McGee blasted over right tackle, moved to the outside, and out-raced the Indians’ secondary to the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown run. 

Healdton finished the set with the first-teamers with 106 yards on 10 rushing plays. Both pass attempts were incomplete.

“We started strong in our first series, and later in the scrimmage kind of ran out of plays,” Healdton coach Mark Barrett said. “We used a kind of ‘vanilla’ play-calling system in that we did not vary from the five or six plays we had pre-arranged to run. Later, we can add new wrinkles.”

Both team’s two’s and three’s struggled to generate offense. Healdton outgained Marietta 41-7 in yards with its twos, and held the edge when the threes competed at 65-17 in yards.

“We started a bit slow in the early part of the scrimmage,” Marietta coach Matt Suffal said. “But I was really pleased with the way our squad stepped up later in the evening. It showed what we are capable of doing as a team.”

The clock was set to 30 minutes, and the two teams competed as if they were in a real game. A running clock was used — stopped twice to tend to injuries. Marietta needed just six plays to score its first touchdown. 

With the ball at the Bulldogs’ 15-yard line, quarterback Kyler Erwin rolled left and hit running back Jonathan Escobedo at the 5-yard line. Escobedo ran it in to give the Indians a 6-0 lead.

Two possessions later, the Bulldogs moved from their 27-yard line to the Marietta 30-yard line where Healdton turned the ball over on downs to end its 10-play drive.

Escobedo was the go-to man again. On the first offensive play from scrimmage, Escobedo broke through the line and raced untouched 70 yards for another Indian score-and the final points in the scrimmage. That gave Marietta a 14-0 win in the 30-minute mini-game.

“Our team grew a lot from this scrimmage,” Suffal said. “That fumble recovery seemed to motivate us. 

“We had a number of guys step up and started competing the way this team is capable of competing. We’re excited about this season. We need to keep our enthusiasm up. When we stay focused we have an incredible football team. Hopefully, we can turn a few heads this year.”

Although penalties and turnovers hurt Healdton, Barrett is confident those issues can be addressed and fixed in time for this week’s regular-season opener against Wayne. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

“Everything I saw wrong we can fix,” Barrett said. “I am not upset about tonight, because I understand that the kinds of mistakes we made can be taken care of.”

Marietta travels to Dickson on Friday night to open its season.