Gents host Peabody for Homecoming
CROWLEY – It’s Homecoming week at Crowley High and the festivities have been plentiful over the last few days.
From spirit days and a Homecoming parade to Saturday’s formal dance, the distractions are all around.
But for the Gents, the focus has remained on one thing - Peabody High School.
The Gents will entertain the Warhorses this evening with kickoff set for 7 o’clock at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.
“Homecoming week is an exciting week,” said CHS coach Tommy Tate, whose squad enters tonight’s contest at 1-1. “You have your Homecoming court, it involves a lot of your alumni and it involves a lot of the families here at the school.
“You don’t want to take that away from the high school experience of our football players, but at the same time, they have to understand their role in Homecoming is to prepare for a football game.
“The big thing for us as a football team is the game on Friday night and then the dance on Saturday. We are the entertainment on Friday night.”
And if this year’s showdown is anywhere near the game last year, entertainment will be at an all-time high.
Crowley and Peabody combined for 90 points and nearly 1,000 total yards of offense in the 2010 meeting, won by Peabody, 48-42.
“Last year, it was a shootout,” said Tate. “You never know about these games. We just have to come out focused and ready to play a really good Peabody football team.”
One plus for the Gents is that they won’t have to worry about containing All-State running back Jalen Richard. The senior tailback, who gashed the Gents for 352 yards and six touchdowns last year, tore his ACL over the summer and will miss the entire 2011 season.
Richard finished last year with 2,289 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Filling the void left by Richard is sophomore J.J. Wright. In two games, Wright has 217 yards and two touchdowns on 59 carries. He also had a 39-yard touchdown reception last week in the Warhorses’ 12-7 victory over Carroll and caught five passes for 25 yards in a 46-6 loss to Washington Marion in the season opener.
“They run from an I and that’s their base offense,” said Tate. “Wright is a very talented running back and he has some speed.
“And their interior line is huge and they do a good job of run blocking.”
The Warhorses have a freshman quarterback, Askaree Crawford, who has gone through some early growing pains. Against Washington Marion, he completed eight passes, but he had two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
“They have a young quarterback and they don’t ask him to do much but hand off the football,” said Tate. “It’s a tough matchup for us because it’s a big offensive line and fullback-, tailback-power football.”
In the contest against Washington Marion, the Warhorses fell behind early and were forced to go to more of a spread offense, which didn’t favor them.
Last week, Peabody took an early lead on Carroll and was able to stay true to form with their running attack.
“Last week, they just shortened the game and really did a good job of just controlling the football,” said Tate. “They pounded the football. And we look for very much the same. We look for them to line up and really try to attack us. We’re just going to have to do a really good job of getting good pad leverage, coming off blocks and making tackles.”
Defensively, the Warhorses will bring pressure.
“They like to blitz a lot,” said Tate. “They are in a four-man front and they bring inside linebackers and they bring strong safeties off the outside. They have no fear in blitzing.”
For Crowley, defense proved to be the key last week in a 29-16 victory over Washington Marion. The Gents created six turnovers and held the Indians to just one touchdown in the first half.
“Last week, were very fortunate, we had six takeaways,” said Tate. “We’d like to think that when you play fast and when you play good disciplined football and you tackle well, the turnovers will come. In the first week, we didn’t have any takeaways.
“Each week is a different challenge and this week the challenge is to force them to throw the football and try to defend their running game.”
Offensively, Crowley showed progress after a dismal performance in Week 1. The Gents racked up a total of 373 yards and 14 first downs against Washington Marion.
Davante Bourque led the way with 96 yards and two touchdowns on the ground while also hauling in two passes for 110 yards and a score.
Andre Mills also had an impressive showing at quarterback, completing seven passes for nearly 200 yards.
“We really saw some improvement from Week 1 to Week 2,” said Tate. “The players are just playing with a lot more confidence. I don’t want to sound like we’re looking back because we’re looking forward but, it almost seems like a different football team.
“We played with a lot more confidence, especially in the second half last week. I think we grew up a little bit in that second half.
“This team is still looking for an identity, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve only got two games under our belts and this will be a good test for us.”