Gents host Warhorses in Homecoming tilt
By Chris Quebedeaux
CROWLEY – With Homecoming festivities taking place all week long at Crowley High, it’s easy to get caught up in all the commotion.
But for CHS coach Tommy Tate and his Fighting Gents, the main concern is tonight’s opponent - the Peabody Warhorses.
“It is Homecoming and with that comes some distractions. But I’ve tried to impress on the players and the coaches what our role is in Homecoming and that’s to play the game,” said Tate. “And if you’re going to play the game, you want to win the game.
“Like I said, there’s going to be some distractions, but we have to stay focused and get ready to play a really good game.”
Just as the Gents did last week, Peabody shut out Bolton in the season opener, 41-0. However, the Warhorses came up short the following two weeks, losing to Washington Marion, 14-8, and Carroll, 26-12.
“They’ve played some good football in their last three ballgames,” said Tate of Peabody. “They lost to Washington Marion, but they played well and they had a chance to win it. And then they played a really good Carroll team tough.”
The Warhorses offense is centered around tailback Jalen Richard (5-10, 185, Soph.) who returns to the backfield after starting the last half of the season in 2008. He rushed for 606 yards and four touchdowns on 107 carries during his freshman campaign and racked up 86 yards and three scores while seeing limited playing time in the 2009 season opener against Bolton.
“He’s a heck of a running back,” said Tate of Richard. “He is explosive, he’s strong... He’s got good speed and he runs really tough inside the tackles. He is an excellent running back and he’s got a lot of yardage in the first three ballgames. He’s kind of their go-to guy running the football.”
Richard isn’t the Warhorses’ only offensive threat, however.
Quarterback Alaric Jones (5-10, 170, Sr.) is one as well. He threw for 685 yards last year before moving to receiver this year. However, new scheduled starter Keverick Tanner (5-10, 170, Jr.) was injured during practice before the season opener and Jones moved back under center.
Jones connected on six of his 10 pass attempts for 137 yards and two scores. He hit tight end Ashlay Clayton on a 35-yard scoring strike and Jawora Dorsey on an 8-yard touchdown pass.
“Their quarterbacks are very active and very capable of running and throwing the football,” said Tate. “They are a little more run oriented than throwing the football, but they are capable of throwing it and they have really good skill guys on the outside that can catch the ball.”
Defensively, Peabody runs a 4-2-5 with the strength being in the secondary where Cedric Green and James Morgan return.
Gus Snowden (6-0, 200, Jr.) returns at linebacker after leading the team with 111 tackles last season. Shontorian Lowe (6-2, 225, Sr.) joins Snowden at linebacker after moving from defensive end after last year.
“The inside linebackers are very active and their free safety is a very good football player. Their outside linebackers are really good tacklers.
“They really do a good job with their defensive scheme. It’s based out of a 40 front and it’s a little bit different than what we’ve seen the past two weeks but it’s nothing that we aren’t prepared for.”
Tate’s Gents put up two touchdowns against a similar defense in the opener against Jennings and they have shown progression over the last two weeks.
“It’s being able to go out there and execute on Friday nights, that’s the key,” said Tate. “And try to show some improvement. Points of emphasis right now are to continue to improve in the running game and then work really hard on pass protection and protecting the quarterback so we can be more efficient and be more in tune with the passing game.”
One phase of Crowley’s game that has improved drastically is special teams, where Troy Wilridge returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns last week.
“Special teams is something that we have talked about, and making good decisions,” said Tate. “We didn’t have many returnable balls kicked to us in the first two games. That’s where we have to make good decisions back there, regardless if its on punt returns or kickoff returns. The main goal is to make sure we have possession of the football and then the return is lagniappe.
“But with Troy’s talent and our blocking schemes, we feel like we have a chance to return some balls regardless of whether it’s squib kicks or kicks down the field.”
Those kicks will be set up by Crowley’s defense, which has played spectacular the last two weeks with the exception of some penalties. The Gents limited to Boton to just 99 yards of total offense last week and held Abbeville’s high-powered offense to just 174 yards.
“We’re getting better and that’s the key each and every week,” said Tate of his team’s defense. “Regardless of who the opponent is, it’s for us to get better and we have shown improvement each week. This is the fourth game of the season. It’s against a very quality opponent. But it’s somebody we feel we match up real well to and if we go out and perform really well, we feel like we’ll give ourselves a chance to win the football game.”