Coverage Breakdown: Hamilton @ Vardaman
Players to Watch
#2 Bryant Butler—Butler is a junior QB for the Lions and is listed as a starter. He is a vital part of Hamilton's offense for both his passing and running ability. Hamilton looks to use a balanced combination of run and pass in their offense, and Butler can bring about success in both. When his protection breaks down, look for him to buy time with his feet and look for receivers downfield. Butler was injured earlier this season, so his amount of playing time may be limited.
#4 Gavin Toler—If the Hamilton coaching staff sits Butler due to injury, the snaps will be taken by freshman Gavin Toler. Toler, although young, shows great promise for the next few seasons. Toler has played the quarterback position this season due to Butler's injury, so he has some experience under his belt. If he sees time on offense, the Vardaman defense will attempt to pressure him into making bad decisions and confuse him with looks from a talented secondary.
#7 TJ Warren—The senior DB and WR is one of Butler's favorite targets in the passing game and a threat to score when in the open field. Warren will be targeted multiple times by whoever takes snaps for the Lions tonight. On defense, Warren is a good coverage player because of his speed and will be vital in slowing down Vardaman's passing attack.
#44 Ty Hall—Another freshman who could see significant playing time for the Lions tonight is tailback/linebacker Ty Hall. Hall is a power back and could be called on in short-yardage situations for the Lion offense. His power abilities have the potential to shine through on defense as well because he is an important variable in stopping an opponent's run game and pressuring the quarterback.
#4 Patrick Pratt—The Rams' sophomore tailback and cornerback has delivered for his team on multiple occasions this season. Pratt has the speed necessary to beat opposing defenses to the edge and to cover talented receivers. Look for Vardaman to feed him early and often in the ground game. Pratt has twelve interceptions on his young career and will look to gain more tonight.
#5 Brandon Washington—Washington has been the primary playmaker for the Rams for the past couple of seasons. Washington will line up at wingback or wide receiver on offense, meaning it is possible for him to touch the football in both the passing and running game. The Vardaman senior has the speed and agility to make defenders miss and to take advantage of small creases in opposing defenses. It is this playmaking ability that has made Washington the team leader in all-purpose yards. Look for QB Trae Owen to put the ball in his hands often tonight.
#10 Deon Johnson—Johnson is the Rams' fullback but has also seen some time at tailback in his career. The senior brings a power option to the Rams' rushing attack and is used heavily near the goal line or in short-yardage situations. Johnson doesn't have the speed of his fellow running back Patrick Pratt, but he has no problem laying a blow on a defender who gets in his way. He is the leading rusher for Vardaman this season, so he will have his share of carries tonight.
#12 Trae Owen—The Rams' junior quarterback leads Region 1-1A in passing yards with 1,221 on the year with 16 touchdowns. Owen has had a successful campaign, one which includes being named an SES Mississippi 1A Player of the Year Candidate. When pass protection breaks down, Owen has a knack for finding a crease in the defense to scramble for yardage. Head Coach Larry Gann has also been known to call a few designed runs for his quarterback on occasion. When Owen has a good night, the Rams follow suit.
Keys to the Game
Tonight is senior night in Vardaman as the Rams prepare for postseason play coming up next week. The Rams have clinched the #3 seed from Region 1-1A and will probably face Ray Brooks next week. Hamilton, although they aren't making the postseason, still has a very young and talented team.
The Hamilton Lions will look to spread the field tonight to give their guys space to make plays. Hamilton has some talented athletes at their disposal and will attempt to utilize them in an effort to spoil Vardaman's senior night. Tonight is likely the final game for these Hamilton seniors, so they will play with passion.
Tonight is Washington's final regular season game at Carter Field, so emotions will be high. Washington has the speed and experience to cause issues on both sides of the ball for Hamilton tonight. He will have his mind set on finishing his senior season with a win and finding the end zone. If Hamilton can contain Washington, their chances of winning increase exponentially.