14 returning starters bolster Jaguars’ playoff hopes
Lorenzo Williams returns for his fourth season as the head coach at Westmoore High School. After starting 4-1 last year and looking like a playoff contender, the Jaguars went 1-4 in the second half of the season to finish 5-5, out of the playoff picture.
This year, the team will try to put a full season together and rely on 14 returning starters to accomplish that goal.
On offense, the Jags will count on junior quarterback Dayton Wolfe (6’, 200) who had an impressive sophomore campaign, throwing for almost 1,800 yards and 22 touchdown passes to go along with another 407 yards and 10 touchdowns running the football.
“He’s our guy,” Williams said, “We’re going to put the ball in his hands, and I told him that he needs to double-up on those numbers. He needs to throw for about 4,000 yards and 40 touchdown passes to get the job done.”
Wolfe’s targets this year are many in number but Westmoore fans have to wonder who will fill the void left by Jacob Clark, who graduated as the Jaguars all-time leading receiver in receptions, touchdown receptions and yards receiving. He also was a top-grade return man on all kick returns.
“We have a lot of guys out there that played on Friday nights last year, and we’re pretty excited about that,” Williams said, “We will run a little more of a spread offense, and all of these guys have a little more speed, can catch the ball, run their routes and block on the edge.”
The top returning receiver statistically is senior Colby Phillips (6’3, 175) who grabbed 23 receptions for 533 yards and five touchdowns last year.
Other receivers include the Metcalf twins, Matt (5’8, 150) and Andrew (5’8, 145), who are both seniors. Andrew and Matt had strong seasons last year and are expected to contribute even more this year. Junior Jaquan Richardson (5’9, 145) had seven grabs for 105 yards and a touchdown.
The running back position, which was hit hard by graduation, may actually be better than Williams believed when spring practice ended in May.
“We didn’t think we had much there at first,” Williams said. “We have two sophomore kids Brandon Arnold (5’10, 170) and Kaibren Grant (5’10, 170) that have stepped up for us, not just running the ball, but getting out there and catching some bubble passes and in their pass protection.”
Williams said this group really exceeded expectations and showed their talents and improved abilities during spring ball and team camp.
The Jaguars lost some valuable big men on the offensive line, but Williams has confidence in those returning and believes the young guys are determined and ready to prove their worth.
“I always tell my guys it doesn’t matter what grade you’re in, what you look like or how much you can bench, if you can play, you can play.”
Garrett Humann is one of those big guys at 6’5 and more than 300 pounds, who should be ready to be one of the team leaders along with Tyler Koonce (5’7, 172), who has really stepped up during the off season.
The team will once again employ a 3-3 stack defense. Five of its down linemen are returning starters. Josh Steward (6’, 240), Dominique Reeves (6’, 260), Sam Olajide (h6’1, 255), Konner Dowell (5’11, 210) and Huan Tran (6’3, 270).
“We have five guys we can rotate in those three positions, so we feel very comfortable at those spots,” Williams said. “I worried about them last year when they were just sophomores, but for the next two years, I’m not going to have to worry about that position, those guys can get it done and we’re excited about that.”
The defensive leader is senior outside linebacker Nikale Davis (6’3, 230), who has recorded 23 sacks the last two years and has unlimited potential according to his coaches.
“He’s just a monster,” Williams said, “He’s one of those players who has that extra burst that you just can’t coach. Plus, he’s a leader on the field and knows where everyone is supposed to be at all times.”
Jordan Hampton (5’11, 220) and Josiah James (6’, 170) will battle at the middle linebacker spot and the Jags are also adding middle linebacker Sterling Peters (5’11, 195) a standout move-in from Texas.
In the secondary, the Jags once again have a plethora of returning players and most all are gifted with great speed. Several of them placed at the state track and field championships earlier this year, including Matt Metcalf, Colby Phillips, Kylen Tennyson (6’2, 185), Koryee Wyatt (6’1, 168) and DeJion Simpkins (5’9, 165). Williams also said sophomore Jermaine Hardison (5’10, 160) has impressed and will help push the others.
Westmoore opens the season taking on their rival in week one, the Moore Lions in the ever competitive “Moore War”. – 19SM