Chiefland lives and learns in Fort White

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By Claude Lewis

FORT WHITE -For Ajay Ulmer, spring football games are good for finding out strengths and weaknesses and adjusting from there.

Ulmer got a feel for what needs to be tweaked for his Chiefland High football program with a Spring CLassic at Fort White High last Friday night, May 23.

The non-district scrimmage pitted the host Class 2A Indians against Ulmer's Class 2B Indians.

For the record, Fort White used three first half touchdowns to power it to a 23-14 over Chiefland.

Ulmer, who is in his second year as head coach at Chiefland, saw some chinks in his team's armor, but overall, he believes the faults are nothing that can't be fixed and fined tuned in time for a great 2008.

"Overall, I'm happy,"he said. "I saw good things, some bright moments. On a whole, I thought we executed well. We made a few mistakes. Our youth and inxperience and some positions showed. This was the first time in a varsity game for some of our guys. We missed some tackles."

Fort White, a playoff team last year, was certainly a tough opponent with a few players who can make you miss. The school in lower Columbia County showed a good mixture of pass and run.

Meanwhile, Ulmer used two freshman quarterbacks-Brent Slaughter and Eugene Carter -and a number of runners in multiple formations.

"We ran a lot of different plays,"Ulmer said. "We wanted to find out what we do best."

Although that hopefully will be a mixture of things as the team matures and confidence grows, one part of Chiefland's game that Ulmer will count on is the bruising running of Tommy Sheffield and Stephen Davis, the soild work of Jamantye Thompson and Dane Cothron, and the scooting of tough waterbug Jakarr White.

Sheffield and Davis, who are also playing outside linebackers this season, will see tons of snaps this fall.

Sheffield scored Chiefland's first touchdown against Fort White late in the first quarter. The rising senior bounced through a couple of would-be tacklers, then outran the rest of the defenders for an 80-yard touchdown. Garrett Schmidt's extra point gave Chiefland a 7-6 lead.

Fort White, which opened the game with a 70-yard bomb from Alex Gilmer to Alexis Blake, went ahead midway through the second quarter after recovering a fumble at the Chiefland 23-yard line.

The Chiefland defense stuffed Fort White on two running plays, shoving the ball back to the 25, but on a third and long play, the defense thought pass while Fort White's Montre Cray danced untouched into the end zone on a counter draw.

Gilmer ran in the conversion to put Fort White up, 14-7.

It went to 21-7 in the final moments of the first half, as Xavier Blake went 21 yards on a pass play and then scored from two yards out.

"I'd like to see us make a stand there," Ulmer said. "We needed to get a first down so they don't get the ball in our territory with under two minutes."

The only scoring in the third quarter was a field goal by Fort White.

"They're a good measuring stick,"Ulmer said of the other Indians.

Both coaches played reserves in the fourth quarter.

This is where White went to work, rushing for 47 yards on five carries. He scored on a seven-yard run midway through the final quarter.

Sheffield finished with 130 yards on seven carries. Davis had a quiet game rushing, gaining only 14 yards.

Slaughter, who was sacked three times, was 4-for-7 for 36 yards. Carter was 3-for-5 with an interception and 24 yards.

Cothron had 21 yards rushing.

On defense, Ulmer praised the play of Chance Hall and Parrish Parnell.

Once school lets out, the Chiefland players will get stronger with their summer lifting programs. Some 7-on-7 play for the skills guys can also help.