By Kirk Dooley
Let me introduce you to Mr. Curtis Williams.
Nice guy. Great athlete. He’s the star running back for West Mesquite and you will get to know him well on Friday night. He’s #6.
Bring your calculator with you to the game at Highlander Stadium because #6 is averaging more than 11 yards every time he touches the ball. He’s a first-down machine. Over the past five games he has been handed the football 75 times and he has run for 837 yards.
Now, he doesn’t run for 11 yards every carry. But on every fifth or sixth run he’ll break through the line, sidestep a linebacker and go for 50 or so yards. He knows how to pad his average.
Mr. Williams is currently the fourth-ranked 5A ball carrier in yardage in the area. You may remember him from last year. As a junior he ran for 67 yards and caught eight passes for 86 yards against HP. He’s got 4.5 speed and is only one of several big-play threats on this West Mesquite Wranglers squad. In their most recent game, Wranglers quarterback Connor Neill – the son of the coach – threw touchdown passes of 86 yards to Dylan Wright and 52 yards to #6 while sophomore Ty Jordan ran a punt back 95 yards for a touchdown. You’d think the Scots were lining up against North Forney and all its high-tech weapons.
The Wranglers are 5-0 and they’ve played some good teams. They beat Rockwall Heath … who beat Rockwall … who beat the Scots. West Mesquite and Highland Park are both ranked in the top 10 in the area. But after the game Friday the Highlander Stadium scoreboard will reflect a reality that polls lack.
HP coach Randy Allen says that the Wranglers offense is better than it was last year. Having nine offensive starters back helps. And he believes that WM will have the most athletic defense the Scots have faced.
Two weeks ago the Scots faced a similar challenge against North Forney (which still has the most productive 5A offense in the area). Allen talked about “breaking serve” as each team poured on the touchdowns until Prince Dorbah hit the Falcons quarterback as he was throwing and the ball sailed into the welcome arms of HP linebacker James Lightbourn. On the next play Paxton Alexander ran 52 yards for the dagger touchdown that put the Scots up by 21 points. The HP defense had broken serve.
This Friday the threat is different, but just as real. While the HP defense will have to contain the Wranglers speedy skill players and not give up the big play, the Scots’ biggest challenge will be the ultra-fast Wrangler defense. They will be step faster than any team the Scots have played. The Wranglers have smothered their opponents, holding them to 183 yards per game.
Meanwhile the Scots have played some good teams and are averaging 487 yards per game under the leadership of QB John Stephen Jones.
Coach Allen believes that the team that wins Friday night will out-execute its opponent. Will the Scots offense get its 487 yards, or will the Wranglers hold them to 183? Will the Scots defense contain #6 and limit the WM big plays?
I think the Scots will answer both questions by welcoming captains Thomas Shelmire and James Herring back in the starting lineup.
With the Scots at full strength, it should be a nerve-racking but joyous homecoming night.