Westwood was young, inexperienced and physically immature in its first varsity football campaign.
The result was one win in 10 tries, though another “win” was added to the official record via forfeit.
Entering their second season, the Redhawks are bigger, stronger, faster and more experienced. This year, results are on the agenda.
“I see us much improved overall but especially up front,” coach Rodney Summers said. “We won’t be pushed around like we were at times last season, because the kids worked so hard to improve their strength, speed and stamina in the offseason. Our goal is to stay healthy and make a run at winning the region championship.”
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The turnaround starts up front, especially on offense where the intact Westwood line should be the most improved area on the team.
Center Matt Curry (5-11, 285), guards Chris Mitchell (6-0, 310) and Torrey Boone (6-2, 275) and tackles Marlon Reese and James Fannin return bigger, stronger and wiser.
“We were pretty much forced into relying on the pass last season, and that lack of balance made it easier for teams to defend us,” Summers said. “Now, I believe we’ll be able to take advantage of our weapons all over the field. One of our keys is to be able to control the ball and keep our defense off the field as much as possible.”
The big question is at quarterback. Davis King, the first-year starter, is now at Hammond. Senior Chris Patterson steps in after sitting out last season with a torn ACL.
“Chris is a dual threat guy, and though he is cleared physically to play, we will be cautious about his running for a while,” said Summers. “He’s done very well in seven-on-seven in the summer, but the real test will be how he handles the pressure he’s going to see in a live game with people in his face.”
Patterson has plenty of inviting targets at his disposal, including wide receivers Vyncint Smith (6-3, 180) and Adonus Lee. Smith caught 48 passes for 588 yards and four touchdowns, while Lee had 44 grabs for 552 yards and four scores. Former running back Miquelle Canady moves from running back to slot receiver.
Seniors Christian Brown and fleet KiJuan Smith are the primary running backs.
On defense, the Redhawks must stop allowing the big plays the opposition routinely pulled off a year ago.
“Inexperience and a lack of speed in the secondary were problems, but we believe we will be less susceptible to those long gainers that plagued us last year,” Summers said.
Adding fast junior Deante Drakeford to the secondary and big sophomore Deundhray Steele at nose guard could be key upgrades.
Ends Bradley Carter and Anthony Friday, linebackers Raymond Hall, Stephen Timmons and safety Tyreque Bell are the top returning veterans.