Coverage Breakdown: Vardaman @ Leake County
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Trae Owen | QB
The Vardaman quarterback went through a frustrating loss last week against French Camp Academy, but he has been through those before. If Vardaman hopes to bounce back and pick up their first region win of the season, they will need Trae Owen to be at the top of his game. Owen threw for two and rushed for one touchdown last week against the Panthers.
Patrick Pratt | HB/CB
The career-interception count for Patrick Pratt continues to grow. The junior defensive back holds 17 career interceptions and is likely to gain more as the season rolls on. Pratt is also a star at running back for the Rams and is utilized out of the backfield in the running and passing games.
Kody Townsend | WB/FS
The young Kody Townsend has shown up often this season, making his presence felt on the ground, through the air and on defense. The sophomore athlete is a threat to score every time he touches the ball and can lay hard hits on ball carriers. Look for him to be all over the field tonight.
Leake County Gators
Jaden Mann | QB
The Gators don’t pass often, but when they do, the ball will likely be thrown by the freshman gunslinger Jaden Mann. Mann may be young, but he is the team’s leading passer. In the type of offense run by the Gators, the quarterback’s job becomes similar to traffic control: sending backs in motion and knowing when to snap the football for the handoff.
Jaleen Morgan | RB
Morgan leads the Gators in rushing yards with 336 on the year and is joined by a number of talented backs in the rushing game. Morgan also leads his team in rushing touchdowns with three and is a difficult player for defenses to bottle up. He, along with the other backs that Leake County boasts, will be fed often throughout the game tonight.
Cam Darden | DL
Darden is a Fortius Project alum, and flashed his talent this spring at the camp at Southwest Mississippi Community College. Darden is big, fast and athletic: a stereotypical nightmare for offensive lines. Darden will be a big asset in the Gators’ attempts to contain Vardaman’s speed.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Speed—Both Vardaman and Leake County boast a plethora of playmakers on their rosters. With the speed of Vardaman’s Patrick Pratt and Kody Townsend and Leake County’s variation of the “Wing T” formation, speed and agility will play a large role in tonight’s game. 1A football moves fast, and tonight will be no exception.
Ball Security—In region play, every game and snap means more. Turnovers are always costly but prove to be even more so in games like tonight’s. Taking care of the football will go a long way in determining tonight’s victor.
Depth—1A teams do not have the luxury of deep rosters, and cramps and injuries can pile up as a result. Overcoming the aches and pains late in the game will be crucial to success for both teams.
Both of these teams have the ability to score quickly and efficiently and will likely have big plays tonight as a result. The role of limiting these inevitable big plays and coming up with stops on defense cannot be overlooked tonight.
**Photo courtesy of Forest Shoemaker