Football: Monday Morning Quarterback
August 24, 2014By Kevin McCloskey of Western Alamance High School
The clock went to 0:00 as Cummings crossed the goal line to close the gap to 5 points.
The referee waved his arms and said, "Game over."
The Warriors won the 2014 Endowment Game by a score of 30-25 over the Cummings Cavaliers.
Those are the facts. Those are the things you could read about in the Burlington Times-News on Saturday morning.
But what you couldn't read about in the newspaper was the "surreal" feeling that hung in the air after the victory was etched into the record book. We won the game, but there wasn't a lot of jubilation like the kind that typically follows a win over a crosstown rival. It just wasn't that kind of game.
It wasn't a heart-pumping, nail-biting, thrilling finish. Nor was it a big-time blowout, "Lets Make A Statement" kind of win. Beginning midway through the 3rd quarter, the outcome was never really in doubt. But Cummings sure did make it interesting and, hopefully, exposed some things that we can work on in order to become a better team as the season progresses.
We woulda/coulda/shoulda pulled away in the second half and cruised to a large margin of victory. But I also woulda/coulda/shoulda become a brain surgeon. Obviously, that didn't happen either. Just goes to show you that things don't always go as you expect.
But it counts. And there were several bright spots. And we learned some things. We learned where we need to improve. And we learned that we need to finish the game.
Before we dig into the Warriors play, lets talk about the Cavaliers.
We heard some rumors about Cummings improved play following the jamboree at SA a couple of weeks ago. To be honest.... I really didn't buy into the hype. Cummings has been on a steady decline over the past few years and their pool of elite talent appeared to have been significantly tapped out. Add in the departure of their legendary coaching staff (primarily head coach Steve Johnson and OC Jay Perdue) and, on paper, the Cavaliers were certainly looking at very difficult situation in 2014. I seriously figured they would struggle to a .500 record at best.
But new coach Jauron Holman is obviously doing something right. Cummings is a MUCH improved team over recent years. They still have a lot of physical talent, but not in the quantities of their glory years. What they do have, however, is a new attitude and sense of discipline. Very few silly penalties. Very few blown assignments. No finger-pointing nor in-fighting. In short... The Cavs are a very solid ballclub.
Cummings played smart. They stuck to their gameplan. And, most importantly, they did NOT quit.
How far will they go this season??? I have no idea. But after week #1, I have to say that if I were a Cavaliers' fan, I would feel very optimistic.
So congratulations and good luck Cavaliers! You earned my respect (and I'm sure the respect of the rest of Warrior Nation).
Now lets take a look at things from a Dub-A perspective.
Warrior Nation has some new "toys" this season. Most noticeable, is the new reusable "tear away" banner.
Pretty cool! But I have to admit that I'm a little "old school" with regard to the run-through banners. I'm a fan of the traditional paper banners that the cheerleaders used to make. You know what I'm talking about. Those taped-together monstrosities that flap in the fall breeze and contain clever & witty sayings like... "Burn The Devils" or "Neuter The Bulldogs." Oh well.... Progress is progresss I suppose.
Speaking of progress, there are 2 other new things that are definitely progress.
#1 is the new "Launch Pad" tarp that lays flat on the sideline at the 50-yard line. The "Launch Pad" is basically a tarp with squares on it that allow player position groups to come together prior to being sent onto the field. For example, the punt team can assemble on the "Launch Pad" and be ready to run into the game if the Warriors fail to convert on 3rd down. This will help avoid confusion and, potentially, silly penalties and/or wasted timeouts.
Finally, we have the new "Water Cow." Think of it as a plastic cow with "squirt guns" that represent the cow's udders. A pump keeps cold water circulating and provides an on-demand stream of hydration (through the udder) for up to 8 "Warrior Cows" at at time. Good stuff!
Enough about "Launch Pads" and cows! Now lets talk about what you (and I) really want to talk about... Warrior Football!!!
You know... Life would be rather bland without any surprises. Unfortunately, however, surprises can come in 2 forms: pleasant surprises and unpleasant surprises. And, from a Warrior perspective, we had a little of both on Friday evening. So lets do the dirty work and start by discussing the unpleasant surprises:
One more thing to remember when pondering these "unpleasant" things....
THIS WAS GAME #1 PEOPLE! GAME 1!!
A perfect game is not to be expected. So if you were expecting mid-season form, then wait until mid-season. All-in-all, we played pretty well for a first game and here are some reasons why - aka - The "pleasant" surprises:
And now onto some guys who were not surprises (I already knew they were good), but who really stepped up and proved to everyone the level at which they are capable of playing.
DL Hunter Lent.
Not TE Hunter Lent.
Not P Hunter Lent.
But DL Hunter Lent.
In his first game as a defensive starter, Lent was a one-man wrecking crew. As previously stated: 5 sacks! 4 solo and 2 half-sacks. That's a lot! It may even be a record. If not, its darn close.
When I was reviewing the highlight clips, I noticed an odd occurrence. My clips are numbered sequentially and, typically, a player's highlights are spread out over the course of the game. However, Hunter owned the sequence of clips numbered 77, 78, and 79 with back-to-back-to-back sacks. That's just total domination!
And while he may be a surprise to some Warrior fans because this is his first full season at the varsity level, sophomore sensation Darius Pinnix was no surprise to me. This kid is a player!
Filling in for the injured Donavan Apple at RB, Darius ripped off TD runs of 38 and 6 yards along with several other bullish runs. I guess there was one pleasant surprise to me regarding Darius.... His speed. Now he's not a world-class sprinter, but he showed me something on the long TD run. For a guy his size, Darius can really move. And he was also a very strong contributor on defense, recording at least one TFL and several other tackles.
Watch him closely Warrior Fans! We've got him for 3 more years and he's going to be special.
One final thing regarding Darius.... I can no longer call him Darius. That's his given name but he also goes by BJ. Furthermore, he already has a nickname and has let me know that he prefers to be called by this nickname.
So henceforth, Darius (aka BJ) will be called "Poo Poo" as per his instructions.
Now I do not know the origin of the nickname "Poo Poo" so don't bother asking me to explain it. Some things are better off left as a mystery. So lets just enjoy our Poo Poo and be happy he's wearing Warrior Blue & White for the next 3 years!
Tyler Billings. Yes... THE KICKER!
If you have been a loyal MMQB reader over the past several seasons, then you know that I fully support and recognize the importance of special teams. And this season, we are blessed, yet again, with another excellent place kicker in Sr. Tyler Billings.
Tyler had an outstanding game! His kickoffs were deep with at least 2 touchbacks. His PATs were on the money (one was blocked/missed/muffed). And he had a 40 yard FG!!! That's really, really, really good for a high school kicker.
Later in the season, don't be surprised to see a game decided by the swing of Tyler's foot. And you can be confident that when he swings it, he will hammer the ball through the uprights.
Our senior LB duo of Blake Deatherage and Eli Gordon. To me they are....
Blakeman and Gordon
As a duo, perhaps the strongest unit on the Warrior squad. Both Blake and Eli had stellar games on Friday evening. The LB corps is the heart of any defense and we have a very strong heart!
Blake covers a little more ground than Eli.
Eli delivers a little more pop than Blake.
As a tandem, they complement each other very well. And after playing together for 4 years, they have a chemistry and communication that is unspoken.
Individually, they are very good. As a duo, they are great!
Offensive Line: Great job!
Anchored on the right side by seniors Ty Parker and Loften Johnson and complemented by younger guys such as Jayme Shoffner and Mark Wheeler, the "Water Buffalos" up front had a very strong outing.
To the best of my knowledge, they gave up zero sacks. They paved the way for 200+ rushing yards. And they were whistled for very few false starts and/or holding penalties.
As I say every year.... Its hard for me to see specifics of the OL play from the sideline. But the results speak for themselves.
Superlative effort by the OL!
Trey McCollum - Sporting his new Superman cleats, Trey almost had to be Superman in the second half.
First Apple when down with back spasms.
Then Poo Poo had to sit out with lower leg cramps.
That left Trey as the defacto RB in addition to playing QB. While he didn't have his best night ever passing (8/19 for 96 yards and 1 TD), Trey's ability to run the ball effectively really kept the Cummings defense winded. Trey carried the ball 19 times for 108 yards. That's a workman like performance from the Jr. QB.
And I thought KC Okoronko played very well at RB late in the game. As previously mentioned, both Donovan and Poo Poo were hurting, so KC stepped up and did a very solid job; grinding out yardage and chewing up the clock. KC bulled his way into the endzone midway through Q4 to all but put the game on ice for the Warriors.
Britton "Bond" Smith had good production as our new primary kick returner. He had several nice returns and showed a flair for the dramatic by snatching the ball at the last possible moment and surprising the coverage team. There were 2 or 3 returns that were just a whisker away from being taken to the house.
It will happen this season so keep watching! Britton will return a kickoff and/or punt return for a TD!
Dylan Freeman - You all know Dylan's story. Dylan won't play a down for WA this season, but he sure can have an impact. Just his presence at the game on Friday evening was very uplifting & inspirational. Dylan had moved on before I got a chance to speak with him, but I'll be on the lookout in the weeks to come and will try to speak with Dylan and provide some updates on his recovery process.
Keep grinding buddy! We're all behind you! #wafamily
Now its time to look ahead and talk about...
Concerns Going Into Next Week:
I have just two:
The other "unpleasant" things referenced above WILL BE corrected.
Of that, I am confident.
Final random thought.... Did you notice the field on Friday night??? Its in the best shape ever! Lots of hard (and good) work go into making Western Alamance a top-notch football program and the extra effort of the coaches and volunteers does not go unnoticed by me.
THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU DO!!!!
Next Opponent: Southern Alamance
The Patriots were throttled pretty handily by Williams last week falling by a score of 42-20. I'm sure that will leave a bad taste in their mouth. Also leaving a very bad taste, was last season's double-overtime loss the the Warriors.