Coverage Breakdown: Vardaman @ West Lowndes
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Trae Owen | QB
The Rams’ senior signal-caller started off last week’s win over Leake County a little shakily with an early interception but rebounded for a solid performance. Owen made his presence felt on the ground for the Vardaman offense as well as through the air, including on a passing touchdown to Tanner Havens. Vardaman Head Coach Larry Gann will be sure to utilize his veteran quarterback in both of those facets again tonight.
Patrick Pratt | HB/CB
Pratt had another monster game last week as he carried the Ram offense on his shoulders for four quarters. Pratt’s running ability is certainly never questioned, but after last Friday neither is his toughness. The junior tailback became sick on the field late in the first half but never left the game. Pratt’s athleticism and toughness will be needed tonight if Vardaman wants to shake the bad luck they have historically had against West Lowndes.
Tanner Havens | WR
Havens made his return to the offensive side of the football last week after being sidelined with an ankle injury, and he possibly had the best game of his career in the process. Once the Vardaman passing game began clicking, Havens was Trae Owen’s primary target. Havens hauled in Owen’s sole touchdown pass of the evening and had a catch for a huge gain that set up a Patrick Pratt rushing touchdown. When Havens is healthy, the Vardaman offense looks more complete.
West Lowndes Panthers
Jherquaveus Sanders | QB
West Lowndes is younger than they have been in recent years, but “young” does not mean “untalented.” Sophomore quarterback Jherquaveus Sanders is a testament to that. Sanders is a threat through the air, but it is the ground where the 6’2 athlete is most dangerous. The Panthers have utilized running quarterbacks in the past, and they have a talented young one on their roster tonight.
Quinshawn Lucious | RB/WR
Lucious is a do-it-all man for the Panthers. He has been known to line up at wide receiver but is oftentimes seen at running back this season. Just because Lucious is in the backfield, however, does not mean he is not a part of the passing game. He will oftentimes be called on to run screen or swing routes in an effort to establish the Panther passing game and get his speed in the open field. Lucious’ name will be said early and often tonight, and he will be used in a variety of ways.
Jerrious Jenkins | LB/DB
If the Panther defense needs an anchor, they have the potential for one in Jerrious Jenkins. Jenkins is only a junior, but has the speed and tackling ability to be a star with the right amount of work. You will see him line up at linebacker, but, due to his agility, can be moved to cornerback when necessary. Jenkins can fly all over the field, and that speed will be necessary for West Lowndes to contain the Vardaman offense.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Speed—Both Vardaman and West Lowndes have amazing athletes on their rosters, especially at the quarterback and tailback positions. The ground game will be important tonight, but watch for the passing game to open up too. Once the run is established, both of these teams can utilize the play action or a screen play to keep the defense honest, and the speed of these squads makes it possible.
Red Zone—Early in their game last week, Vardaman had trouble scoring in red zone opportunities. Those issues got ironed out eventually, but they can still be concerning if not corrected. Both offenses will have to be at their sharpest when close to the goal line. Every point in this region matters.
Experience—West Lowndes and Vardaman have been divisional opponents the last two seasons in Region 1-1A, and the Panthers have walked away from each of those meetings victorious. Now, however, Vardaman comes into the game with an edge in at least one area: experience. The Rams are fielding 14 seniors this season, and although that could hurt the program a few years down the road, it gives Vardaman a strong core for this season. West Lowndes, on the other hand, is relying heavily on a young offensive line and quarterback to carry them through this season. How this experience gap manifests itself tonight is yet to be seen, but keep an eye out for it.
Kody Townsend—The young Ram wingback and free safety continues to impress. Townsend hauled in an interception and broke numerous tackles on the ground last week against Leake County. Keep your eye on the play of this sophomore tonight and the rest of the season. It could be special.