May 15, 2009
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
WEST POINT -- Big plays usually are few and far between in spring football games.
Like many sports, defenses typically get the better of offenses in preseason or games early in the season.
That wasn''t the case Thursday night at McCallister Field at Hamblin Stadium.
Tajh Ford had three touchdowns, including a 92-yard kickoff return for a score, to help Louisville High School defeat West Point 32-24 in the spring finale for both teams.
Ford also hooked up with quarterback Chris Wraggs on scoring plays of 13 and 23 yards to help the Wildcats, who won the past two Class 3A state titles, prepare for the jump to Class 4A later this year.
"It was a really high scoring game that was not really typical for a spring game," Louisville coach Brad Peterson said. "(At times) we saw things click. We are fortunate because our wideouts all played a lot last year, as did our quarterback. I am not going to say we are in midseason form, by no means. But we were able to pick up on some stuff and we were able to run some a couple of things we really haven''t run this spring because they knew it from last year."
Louisville looked especially sharp with Wraggs (11 of 17, 137 yards, one interception) working in a quick drop and strike on a slant pattern.
Senior Markese Triplett caught four passed for 44 yards, as Wraggs used six receivers.
Last season, Wraggs stepped in when quarterback Clayton Moore was injured and after he was dismissed from the team.
This season, Peterson hopes Wraggs, who led Louisville past Tylertown in the 2008 Class 3A state title game, can be an even better leader.
"He came in and looked really sharp in the first game he filled in for Clayton last year," Peterson said. "The pressure doesn''t bother him."
Peterson said the only mistake Wraggs made -- an interception by lineman Tommy Keys that he returned to the 1 yard line -- was his error because he called the screen pass to the wrong side of the field in the hurry-up offense.
Senior lineman Jimmy Owens sealed the victory when he wrapped up running back Xavier Hogan for a 6-yard loss on fourth-and-8 from the Louisville 44.
"I was pleased (with the defense)," Peterson said. "Conditioning was a factor tonight. We had a lot of guys playing both ways, so we really got to get in great shape. They hurt us when they pounded the ball right at us. That is something we will have to get better at."
West Point coach Chris Chambless said his team still has to address issues with its kicking game (the kicker left the team earlier in spring practice) but was pleased to see a number of positives, even though his team fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter.
"The first quarter wasn''t West Point football and we got a little behind because we weren''t playing," Chambless said. "Like I told the kids, we practice like animals for three weeks and we come out here in the first quarter and come out here and were flat. That is something we can''t do.
"In the last three quarters we fought hard. I can deal with it if we fight."
Running back Lakendrick Thomas led the way for the Green Wave with 145 yards on 19 carries. He scored touchdowns of 37, 10, and 30 yards.
Hogan added 92 yards on 11 carries. His runs included several hard-charging bursts that helped him break free three times for 21 or more yards.
"We ran the ball well," Chambless said. "We know our running backs are going to be our horses."
Unfortunately, Chambless didn''t get to see both of his quarterbacks. He said Cedric Burns, who saw a lot of action at the position last season spelling Michael Carr, hurt his knee Wednesday in practice and didn''t play.
Justin Cox played the entire varsity scrimmage and rushed for 36 yards on seven carries. He was 3 of 10 passing for 26 yards.
Chambless said the quarterback competition is still wide open because both are capable performers.
Defensively, Chambless said the Green Wave have potential but need to come together to replace as many as six starters from last season.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.