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Devils top Keystone Heights

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By Jenna McKenna

In Levy County's last look at spring football, the Williston Red Devils traveled to Keystone Heights, beating the Indians in a very close 14-9 game. Williston scored in the first play from scrimmage, springing Travis Evans loose inside for a 75-yard run. Chris Priest's point-after kick was true, giving the Devils an early 7-0 lead. Keystone responded later in the first when QB Brantley Lott lateraled to Clayton Mosely, who connected with Marcel Robinson for an Indian touchdown. Tim Frysinger's extra-point kick failed, but on Keystone's next drive, Frysinger kicked a field goal to put the Indians up 9-7. From there until the third quarter, it was hard, dusty football, with both sides suffering a scoring drought. The straightforward approach that worked on the opening play no longer sufficed. "We scored first, and thank God," said Devils' head coach Jamie Baker. "They did a couple different things on defense that we hadn't looked at, and that's shame on me." Baker said he'd expected Keystone to line the tackles up wide on the first play, and they did; but after Evans' TD, the Indians adjusted. "They reduced their tackles down and ran two more linebackers, and that screwed up our blocking." That wasn't the only complication for Williston's offense - expected starting QB Dalton Edwards tore a ligament in his throwing arm during spring practice and had to watch from the sidelines while Courtney Days, a veteran running back, took his spot under center. Days did a good job distributing the football in the backfield and even completed several short passes, but Baker said where he really wanted Days was in the backfield, along with Evans and Deonte Welch. "When we have our three veterans back there, that will open things up for us a lot more. We've got to be able to throw," he said. It will also let sophomore Dontrell Edwards develop at a nicer pace, rather than the baptism by fire he experienced Thursday. "Dontrell's going to be a real good running back," Baker said. "I'd like to break him in gently." The good news is, QB Edwards' arm is expected to heal quickly. "They told us four weeks from the injury, so that's just a couple more weeks," Baker said. Even without the expected personnel on the field, the Devils had a good outing against a tough Keystone team. The Indians are graduating a good chunk of offense, including much of the line, but as a team that went 8-2 last year and 9-1 the year before, they're by no means a pushover. After the first quarter score, Keystone never really got close again on offense. Due to Williston's stingy defense, the Indians scarcely got over midfield the rest of the game. J.J. Hunt recovered a Keystone fumble for the Devils at the end of the first half, and defensive back Tony James terrorized Keystone receivers, gathering an interception at the start of the third quarter. Williston, on the other hand, drove deep into Indian territory, seemingly at will, but lost ground at inopportune moments - a fumble here, a score-canceling holding penalty there - just enough to keep them from really dominating the game. The Devils finally gained separation midway through the third quarter when Evans and Welch combined to hammer the ball down inside the Keystone 30. Evans got outside and ran the ball 26 yards for the go-ahead TD, with Priest's kick making it 14-9 for Williston. "To be fair, I think we had an easier time later in the game because they started substituting before we did," Baker said. "We just didn't have enough guys to bring in, so we waited until the fourth quarter." Baker is excited for the summer campaign as the opportunity for the team to get stronger both physically and chemistry-wise. The spring game has given the coaching staff an idea not only of what they have to work on, but also what's already going right. "We saw some spells of our defense really getting after it," Baker said. "We're gonna be a better defensive team than last year."