BEND — The first time Jake Luton took the field for Thursday’s scrimmage at Summit High, he had 99 yards to drive the offense to the end zone.
In a battle for the starting quarterback position, the senior guided the first-string offense to the first-string defense’s 5-yard line before a sack by Kee Whetzel and Andrzej Hughes-Murray forced a short field goal by Jordan Choukair.
Even though the offense settled for three points, it was the start they wanted.
“That’s something we kind of preach every day in practice,” Luton said. “Just coming out in that first kind of team period and getting after it and making sure we’re going full tilt and setting the tone. That’s a big deal and we did that today. Should have scored. Should have put six on the board but we got a field goal and really set the tone for the day.”
Later, playing with the second-string, Luton hit Kolby Taylor on a short slant that redshirt freshman receiver took it 54 yards to the house for the only offensive touchdown in the 90-or-so-minute scrimmage.
“That’s a great play by him,” Luton said. “I gave him the ball and he went and made a play. Any time as a quarterback you can give a guy a five-yard slant and he can take it to the house that’s big time.”
Taylor said he just ran his route.
“The read was there for me to get the ball and just making a play,” he said.
Luton finished 11-for-17 passing for 161 yards and the touchdown.
He by far had the best statistical day of the quarterbacks vying for the starting job. Connor Blount was 6 for 15 with an interception and had a potential touchdown throw dropped in the end zone.
Jack Colletto was just 1 for 4 for 10 yards with a couple runs for positive yardage.
“I think each of them did some good things and then they had some learning reps as well,” coach Jonathan Smith said of the signal callers. “I thought a couple of times taking a sack around the 50-yard line, we’ve got to clean that up.
“But each of them operated pretty well. Some of it is it’s getting late in camp, same plays over again, the defense has a little idea of what is coming. But they did some good things.”
Smith said heading into the scrimmage that he would not name a starter while in Bend, but was asked if he might have a decision on Monday, the next time he has media availability.
“I think we’re going to look at this tape,” he said. “We’ve kind of pinpointed that as we’ve gone along. I won’t say 100 percent (on Monday) but I feel good now.”
While most eyes were on the quarterbacks, Choukair may have had the most impressive day. The junior kicker was perfect on his six field goal attempts.
He made them from 32, 47, 48, 52, 22 and 54, the last to end the scrimmage. His career long is 49.
“We do think he’s a weapon,” Smith said. “He’s got a great leg, we’ve got a ton of confidence in him and he kicked it well.”
Added Taylor: “It’s awesome. We’re going to need it throughout the whole season. Whether we’re down by three or that extra three points to put us up by 10 to make it a two-score game. We need everybody on the team to keep working and making plays.”
The defense came up with a touchdown of its own as linebacker Luke Leonnig took a Jake Dukart pass back 51 yards. Dukart, a true freshman, rebounded by leading the offense to a field goal on his next drive.
Corvallis High grad and redshirt sophomore Hunter Mattson had 61 rushing yards on eight carries while Artavis Pierce had 41 on five attempts.
Trevon Bradford had three catches for 26 yards, Champ Flemings 4 for 40 and Isaiah Hodgins three for 25.
“I think overall it was a very good scrimmage,” Taylor said. “I think we improved from each scrimmage on and each week is getting better and better. Sometimes it can get a little hard just day after day of practice, practice in fall camp. But I think we have started to focus on the details and starting to lock in.”
Punt coverage concerns?
Jesiah Irish and Bradford each returned punts for touchdowns, although Irish’s was called back by a penalty.
“(We’ve) got to watch the tape to know exactly what took place but everything is a concern as we look at it,” Smith said.
Junior tight end Noah Togiai, who made a tough catch on the opening possession and was nearly fully recovered from a foot injury suffered last season, left the scrimmage as was on crutches.
“We will get an MRI tomorrow to know for certain but at this point we don’t know,” Smith said of the severity of the injury.