Lions hoping to be counted among elites
Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 12:02 pm
By KEVIN WEAKS
Dresden is one of the best teams in rural West Tennessee.
Westwood is among the top teams in Memphis.
They will meet Friday night to determine which is one of the four best teams in the state.
Dresden and Westwood will face off in the Class 2A state playoffs with a spot in the semifinal round at stake. Action kicks off 7 p.m. at Crump Stadium in Memphis.
“They’re good,” Dresden head coach Scott Hewett said of the Longhorns. “Anybody that gets to this point is good. They’ve played some stiff competition and have had to play up in classification a lot. That’s why they have a few losses.”
Westwood comes in with a 7-4 overall record, the losses coming to Mitchell (Class 4A for the playoffs) in the season opener, Fairley (4A), Hamilton (5A) and Munford (5A).
“I saw film on them against Munford, which is a 5A school,” Hewett said. “They put up some points on Munford, but I was really impressed with the fact that they never quit.”
Westwood will feature some big-play skill people on both sides of the ball and strong linemen.
Wide receiver Ran-dy Chambers is the Long-horns’ best player, a versatile performer on offense who leads the team in both rushing and receiving. He has rushed for 812 yards on 97 carries and has caught 27 passes for 507 yards.
Chambers paces an offense that puts up 338.6 yards and 26.7 points a game.
Jerome Gilkey continues the Westwood tradition of athletic quarterbacks who can throw, having hit on 80-of-163 passes for 1,427 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Randolph Zleh and Martavious Summers give the Longhorns two other options in the running game, Zleh with 629 yards on 101 carries and Summers with 532 yards on just 59 carries. Westwood has three other receivers with at least 10 catches and 100 yards, Brandon Green with 18 catches for 389 yards.
“Our offense is guided by Jerome, and Randy is our biggest playmaker,” Westwood head coach Anthony Jones said. “Randy has really put the team on his back. We’ll line him up at wide-out and in the backfield. And, Randolph is a great downhill runner. He gets the tough yards for us.”
Jones is in his first year as the Longhorns’ head coach after serving the previous two years as the team’s offensive coordinator.
The Westwood numbers are just as impressive on defense.
Middle linebacker Jeremie Glass has 122 tackles, including 17 for a loss, while outside linebacker John Harris counts 13 for a loss and eight sacks among his 64 total stops.
Cordorez Jackson, a senior free safety, is among the state leaders in interceptions with nine.
“Our defense has been outstanding the last few weeks,” Jones said. “Jeremie makes us solid in the middle, and Cordorez has a great nose for the ball. He’s a great cover corner.
“Our defensive line is pretty big. That’s probably been our most solid unit lately.”
Hewett is impressed by what he’s seen.
“The quarterback has a good arm. He likes to stay in the pocket, which could be good for us,” Hewett said. “Their running backs have good speed, and they have big, strong guys up front. I don’t see any weaknesses.
“They have a lot of speed and like to spread the field, which is not good for us. We can’t let them get outside and make the big plays. We want to keep the ball and not let them get into any kind of rhythm.”
If Hewett and his Dresden staff are impressed with Westwood, then the feeling is mutual from Westwood’s Jones.
“Dresden has great club,” Jones said. “They’ve put up some impressive numbers this year. They run the veer dive very well. We’ll definitely have our hands full. They manhandled McKenzie, and they moved the ball well against Humboldt, so coming to Memphis probably won’t be a problem for them.”
Lion quarterback Gatlin Hatchel has certainly caught Jones’ eye as the quarterback leads Dresden in rushing and passing.
He has 1,147 yards and 17 touchdowns on 189 rush attempts and has completed 91-of-135 passes for 1,280 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Colin Kanehl has 707 yards and nine TDs on 43 catches, and tight end Tyler McPeak has 20 catches for 284 yards.
“The quarterback is a great player, (Kanehl) is a polished receiver, and (McPeak) should be on every college coach’s radar,” Jones said.
Eric VanDyke leads the Lions defensively with 98 tackles, including 16 for a loss. D.J. Ellis comes up with big plays as he leads the team in tackles for a loss with 22 and sacks with six.
Dresden will take a chartered bus to Memphis, courtesy of the QB club, and will stop along the way for a pre-game meal. Published in The WCP 11.17.11