DAYTONA BEACH — Sure, it was a 9 a.m. Saturday kickoff two weeks before the start of football's regular season. Yes, it was simply a scrimmage as part of the FHSAA's officials clinic at Mainland High, one of 16 host sites around the state.
But the exhibition pitting the Bucs and Flagler Palm Coast — widely regarded as the two premier teams in the Volusia/Flagler area — drew quite the crowd and featured all the intensity of a prime-time contest.
"Clearly, they had something to get off their chest, and we did, too," said Mainland senior defensive lineman Kevon McCrary, whose 1-yard touchdown plunge proved to be the difference in a 10-7 victory in two quarters of action. "We both came to play.
"To other opponents, when they play us, it's a championship game. They're bringing their all, so we need to bring our all."
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Though the Bucs were able to celebrate Saturday morning, both teams enter the fall hungry to defend their district championships and make deep runs in the state playoffs. Bulldogs coach Travis Roland said he wanted his team to prove it could hang with the area's elite, while also remaining healthy for when the results really count.
"That would be a great game in the regular season," Roland said. "I think you'd see both teams better. (Mainland running back) D'Andre (McMillian) didn't play today. We missed some passes that we had guys running wide open and we overthrew them.
"It would sell a lot of tickets; that's for sure."
Three other local teams took the field for the officials clinic. University and Matanzas each found the end zone once, on runs by Kyle Metiam and Branden Gilyard, respectively. Marvin Scott and Hayden Flood each scored for Spruce Creek against Ponte Vedra Nease.
Kickoff classics start on Thursday night, with Week 1 of the regular season set for Aug. 24.