We are in the thick of summer right now. It feels hotter and hotter every day, everyone is in full relaxation mode and it's grind time for football teams around the Big Bend. With the Fourth of July break right around the corner, two smaller school squads fit in some 7v7 action before some time off.
Aucilla Christian made the short trip down from Monticello to north Tallahassee to take on Maclay. This is the first time this summer that Marauders are seeing competitive action and having new head coach Jason Cauley lead the way. Here are a few things I saw in the midweek evening matchup.
Ahead of the curve
It was almost hard to believe that this was Maclay's first 7v7 outing of the season because its offense was performing at such a high level. Anchored by senior quarterback Michael Grant, the Marauders dominated the passing and rushing game.
Grant was a spectacle in particular. Last season he passed for 1746 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for two scores. You could tell that he's made the role his own ad the quarterback made a handful of deep passes that eventually connected for touchdowns. Throughout the entire game, he rarely missed.
Grant had a strong showing his junior year, but watching him early on, his final season in high school could be a breakout one and a big sparkplug for Maclay. Not only was Maclay's passing game on point, but its receivers turned on the jets.
Seniors Shane Croston, Grayson Oberste, and Caleb Heuchan are once again big targets for grant and going to be big playmakers this season. Croston in particular is going to have a major impact, rushing for 290 yards, receiving for 215 yards, and recording 43 tackles.
I'm excited to see where this Maclay team is going to go this season. They've been stuck in a lull these past few years of hanging at or below a .500 record but have a slight edge now being a larger school in the Suburban 1 class. Maclay is going to be in a competitive district with North Florida Christian and Munroe.
This is going to be a fun district to watch and it'll be interesting to see what Maclay does to stand out. Would love to see this team go up against some more opponents this summer just to see where they compare right now to the rest of the Big Bend scene.
After graduating a large senior class in 2020, the Warriors have been focused on developing a younger group, who saw a lot of action last season. With Tripp Joyner acting as that veteran on the roster last season and now graduated, Aucilla is looking for the next man up.
The next guy to most likely take over the leadership position on and off the field is most likely senior running back/linebacker Jace Grant. He had a monster season as a junior, recording 1111 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns, 275 receiving yards, 70 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and eight sacks. He is going to once again be central to everything Aucilla does.
Maclay did do its homework when it came to Grant, putting at least two men on him when he tried to get open, however, when he got open, he made the Marauders pay for it. One sequence saw him juke off two Maclay players before taking off deep into Maclay's territory. He's a weapon for sure, but I don't think Aucilla wants to exhaust him and lean on him some much.
The biggest thing for the Warriors this summer is development. They packed heat behind throws and their receivers were in the right positions, but passes were just off target. There's a month and a half left of workouts, so this team for sure has more than enough time to get adjusted and find its rhythm.
After seeing its younger core get varsity experience last season, this will be a big year in continuing their production and adjustment. Aucilla also made the switch from suburban to rural in the offseason, which might help them when it comes to postseason opportunities.
Jack Williams covers prep sports for Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jackgwilliams.
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: 7v7 notebook: Maclay takes on Aucilla Christian nearing midway point of summer