By Phil Anastasia
Rob Hinson was not happy.
"We should have punched that one in at the end of the first half," the Timber Creek football coach said.
Football coaches always are looking for reasons to complain about their football team, especially during the preseason.
But Hinson had to look long and hard to find fault with his squad after Monday's impressive performance in a scrimmage against state power Paramus Catholic.
Although the final "score" was 3-3 (in touchdowns) and although Paramus Catholic made two extra points while Timber Creek made zero, the home team clearly was the better team in the first half of the scrimmage on the Chargers' back practice field.
With several hundred spectators crowding around the field like they were watching a youth-league game, Timber Creek outscored Paramus Catholic 3-1 in touchdowns in the first half and nearly made it 4-1 as they ended the half on the visitors' two-yard line.
"We've still got some things to work on," said senior quarterback Khalil Trotman, who made a memorable debut with his new team.
A transfer who started the last two seasons at Burlington Township, the 6-foot, 180-pound Trotman threw for three touchdowns in the first half and also showed his speed, elusiveness and toughness with several good runs.
"He's the real deal," Hinson said of Trotman, who didn't play in the second half.
Unofficially, Trotman was 13-for-18 passing for 182 yards with three TDs and zero interceptions. He ran five times for 21 yards, lowering his shoulder rathering than ducking out of bounds when approached by Paramus Catholic tacklers.
"I wanted to send a message," Trotman said. "I wanted to show that we can play with anybody."
Some other observations:
-- Timber Creek has a deep and dangerous wide receiver corps. We know about junior Cam Chambers, a Michigan State recruit. But senior Alan Butler, a Bucknell commit, looked good and so did rangy juniors Noah Ellison and Shaquise McIntyre.
The Chargers go 4-wide on almost every play. They will be tough to defend in space, especially with the way Trotman can throw the football and run, and with speedy Kareem Ali, a Temple recruit, at halfback. Ali had a 45-yard run on TC's first scoring drive.
-- Junior safety Yusef Hollinsworth made the best defensive play of the game for TC, picking off a pass and returning the interception about 40 yards (although the return was called back by an illegal block).
-- TC started slow, with PC scoring first and holding the edge in the first couple of series. But from the middle of the first quarter until halftime, TC scored on three straight possessions (and took the fourth to the 2-yard line) and held PC to just four first downs.
-- Junior LBs Julian Mahan and Tavian Martin played well for TC on defense, as did senior corners Ali and Shawn Springs, a transfer from Cardinal O'Hara in Philadelphia, and senior DE Kennedy Harris, who missed last season with an injury.
-- For what it's worth, Paramus Catholic is the two-time defending Non-Public 4 champion, although the Paladins have graduated a lot of talent, including all-American RB/DB Jabrill Peppers, now at Michigan. Still, PC has reloaded and had been projected as the No. 3 team in the state by the Newark Star Ledger.
-- PC got some hard running from senior Saleem Blackwell and a long TD run for the game's first score from flashy sophomore RB Alijia Jackson.
-- PC plays a national schedule with the opener Sept. 6 against Gilman (Md.) at Towson University plus games vs. St. Francis Academy (Md.), St Ignatius (Ohio) and Eastern Christian (Del.).
-- The scrimmage drew dozens of South Jersey football players as spectators. There were big groups there from St. Joseph (including senior two-way lineman Justin Kennedy) and Paul VI (including star wide receiver Irv Charles) and a few Camden players were in attendance, too, including star wide receiver Brad Hawkins.
-- Paramus Catholic scored on the first series of the second half, when both teams still had their regulars in the game. Paramus Catholic added another score early in the fourth quarter, when Timber Creek's second- and third-string defensive players were in the game.
-- Timber Creek was 0-for-3 in extra points, with PC blocking two attempts.
-- The scrimmage was played in game-like conditions, except for on special teams. There were punts and kickoffs, but no punt returns or kickoff returns
.-- TC has two remaining scrimmages, vs. Atlantic City and Eastern. The Chargers open vs. Pennsauken, whose head coach, Clint Tabb, was in attendance at Monday's scrimmage.
-- Former Eastern coach Dan Spittal is serving as a volunteer assistant with Timber Creek.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter