Football: Monday Morning QB - Northeast Guilford
November 3, 2013By Kevin McCloskey of Western Alamance High School
Friday was this kind of day...
Rain for most of the day and a threat of rain throughout the evening kind of put a damper on Friday's Senior Night festivities. It a word, the game atmosphere was... Flat.
There are few reasons for this. As already noted, it certainly was a blustery day. In addition, we all kind of expected to win. I know I did. This wasn't a "Big Game Alert" kind of game. And, finally, we all knew that this (in all likelihood) would not be the final home game of the 2013 season. The playoffs await and I fully expect us to get at least 2 home playoff games (the NCHSAA will let us know next Saturday).
So with all this being said... A win is a win. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't overly exciting nor impressive. But the Warriors win 24-0 and move to 9-1 on the season.
That's PRETTY DARN GOOD!
It was so, so, SO good to see Jacob "J-Train" Webster on the field as a captain on Sr. Night. After missing most of the 2012 season due to injury, it was a cruel twist of fate when Jacob went down in the first full-contact scrimmage of 2013 thus ending his football career. That's just not right!
And make no mistake about it; Jacob would have put up BIG numbers this season. A one-two punch of Jacob and Donovan Apple would have been tough to stop. But it just wasn't in the cards.
I spoke briefly with Jacob before the game and discussed his future plans. He's on track to graduate early from WA and has his eyes set on becoming a physical therapist! Now how's that for a positive twist of fate! If anyone can empathize with a patient going through physical therapy, its Jacob Webster.
Best wishes to you #27. Nothing can stop the J-Train!
Quick Injury Update:
In week 11 (10 games plus a bye week), the Warriors find themselves in a pretty good position health-wise. Not unscathed by any means, but not terrible either. This is football and football is a collision sport. Injuries are a part of the game.
As just mentioned, we lost Jacob Webster prior to the season and then fellow senior, Hayden Hodge, ended his WA career about 1/2 way the season through due to injury.
Justin Wilson is still recovering from an injury sustained during the Rockingham County game but expects to return for the playoffs.
Dexter Brower was injured on the opening kickoff on Friday night and did not return. His status is uncertain.
Aside from these.... I think its all just basic bumps & bruises.
Lets spend a few minutes discussing our new/old friends... The NE Guilford Rams.
Coach Pursley has retired but Coach Donovan Jackson has kept the playbook intact. Even though we haven't played them in a few years, it still felt & lookded the same.
They're still running the same old-school misdirection rushing attack. From a football perspective, its actually a thing of beauty when it works, but its mighty ugly when it doesn't. And it really wasn't working for them on Friday night.
NEG reminded me a lot of last week's opponent, Eastern Guilford. Physically... Some impressive specimens. But they lack numbers (no depth) and do not appear to be in sync with one another.
When their rushing attack isn't working, they have no balance with their passing game. Their passing game appeared to have a single philosphy... Wing it deep 7-8 times/game and hope to hit a big one. Go big or go home. Well... They went home with a goose egg on the scoreboard.
But I am sure that in years to come, they will get their act together and become a formidable opponent once again.
This being said... The Rams were formidable (especially on defense) for the 1st half on Friday night but this was largely due to some flat play by the Warrior offense.
I went until early in the 2nd quarter before I was able to video a positive offensive play for WA. My video clips are numbered sequentially starting with 1. The first offensive highlight was clip #29 if that tells you anything. There was just nothing clicking for WA on offense throughout the vast majority of the first half.
Its hard to say if NEG was playing that well defensively or if we were playing that poorly offensively; probably a little of both. But WA finally made a move on its final possession of the half to drive down to the Rams 18 yard line before stalling. With 18.6 seconds on the clock, senior kicker Josh Price sneaked a 35-yard FG through the uprights to give WA a slim 3-0 lead heading into the locker room.
To the best of my knowledge, this was Price's 3rd FG of the season and all 3 have been from 35-yards..... Spooky!
I typically do not go into the locker room at halftime so I don't know if there was some "Rah Rah" speech by the coaches or, perhaps, some X's & O's adjustments. All I know is that WA played much better offensively in the second half. In particular, the self-proclaimed group of "Water Buffalos" (otherwise known as the Warrior OL), did a much better job of opening some holes for the Warrior rushing attack.
WA received the 2nd half kickoff and was setup in good field position thanks to a nice return by Brock Deatherage. From here, a balanced mix of run/pass moved the ball deep into NEG territory where the Warriors ultimately found themselves facing a 4th-and-goal situation on the Rams 1 yard line. There was no hesitation from the WA coaching staff. The Warriors were going for it!
Donovan "YAC" Apple punched it in and WA went up 10-0 and never looked back. So props to the WA O-Line. The Big Uglies! The Water Buffalos!!!
You came through when needed!
But enough about the offense. This game was OWNED by the Warrior Defense! In particular, it was owned by "The Manimal".... TJ HARRIS!!!!
I think TJ spent a lot of time at the State Fair recently playing Whack-A-Mole! But in TJ's world, he turned it into Whack-A-Ram!!!
I almost felt sorry for the Rams at times because TJ was, simply put, destroying them. In all seriousness... NEG had NO ONE who could handle The Manimal. He was unblockable. And he's got a nasty streak!
Think back to the movie, "Remember The Titans".... The motto of the defense was to be.... Mobile! Agile! Hostile!
Coach Boone: What are you?
Team: Mobile, agile, hostile!
Coach Boone: What is pain?
Team: French bread!
Coach Boone: What is fatigue?
Team: Army clothes!
Coach Boone: [Coach puts hand to his ear] Will you ever quit?
Team: No! We want some mo', we want some mo', we want some mo'!
THIS IS TJ!!!!! TJ would be Coach Boone's favorite player.
Like some other members of the Warrior Sr. Class.... TJ is playing THE BEST football of his career right now.
Other players/things that stood out on Friday night:
Up next... The McMichael Phoenix.
Lets be honest... I was already counting this as a 'W'. After all, the Phoenix are winless (0-10) on the season and in dead last place. This should be nothing more than a "glorified scrimmage" for WA as the playoffs loom just around the corner....
I'm calling this one an "Upset Alert!!!"
Things going in McMichael's favor...
I was seriously considering skipping this game. It is a long trip and staying home on a Friday night does sound enticing.
But I'm NOT going to do it! I'm going to this game. We are all part of Warrior Nation and we all need to suck-it-up and take care of business. Potentially, there's a lot riding on this game. We don't earn much by winning. But if we were to lose, it could really hurt us.
So I'm putting out the "Big Game Alert" for this one!!! We need you up in Mayodan on Friday night.
Each season, we have one game that I like to call the "Business Trip." This is it. Its all business. You may not want to go. But you need to go and take care of business. No excuses. Just get the job done!
Let's do this thing and secure a favorable spot in the playoff brackets.