September 29, 2009 10:49:00 AM
MABEN -- Ledrick Patterson is a fast learner.
Even though Patterson has been a member of the East Webster High School varsity football program for four years, he never played quarterback before this season.
Patterson wasn''t surprised in the summer, though, when coach Jimmy Carden said he would be in the mix to replace Johnthan Banks as the team''s starting quarterback.
Patterson should have made sure he had all of the information.
Turns out Carden and his staff had plans to switch the Wolverines to a triple option attack, a la Georgia Tech, so not only would Patterson have to take on a bigger leadership role as a quarterback, he also would have to learn a new offense.
The lessons are going pretty well for Patterson.
On Friday, the junior rushed for five touchdowns and threw for another to lead East Webster to a 42-19 victory against Alcorn Central.
For his accomplishments, Patterson is The Commercial Dispatch''s Prep Player of the week.
"I thought it was going to be real hard," Patterson said of having to learn a new offense. "I am still learning it. I don''t have all of it, but I am getting better every week."
Patterson, a 5-foot-11, 160-pounder, scored on runs of 58 and 29 yards in the first quarter, 8 yards in the second quarter, and on runs of 23 and 5 yards in the third quarter.
He also threw a 26-yard pass to Miguel Graham in the third quarter. He finished with 124 yards on nine carries and completed 8 of 15 passes for 132 yards to help East Webster improve to 4-2.
Last year, Patterson played wide receiver and defensive back. This year, Patterson''s comments reflect how quickly he has learned to play quarterback. When asked about his performance Friday night, Patterson credited his offensive line for opening holes to help him score a career-high five touchdowns.
"I told them the first day of practice that they had to step up, and they did Friday," Patterson said. "They found someone to hit and didn''t let anybody get to me."
Patterson believes the offense fits him because he is still developing into a passer. He said he is getting more comfortable reading defenses and seams in the defense so he can break runs.
Patterson also is growing into a leader more every day. On Sept. 18 against Bruce, East Webster assistant coach Ken Williamson "fussed" at Patterson for an incorrect play call. Even though the play call was relayed in as a different play, Patterson took Williamson''s comments in stride by saying, "Coach, I''m still learning."
Carden likes how Patterson has matured in just a short amount of time. He said Patterson''s self-confidence has helped him ease into the starting job and play at a high level.
"He has handled the offense pretty well, and every ballgame his confidence has grown," Carden said. "If I am going to be in a fight I want him to be with me because he is a competitor and he will fight you to the end."
Carden said Patterson seemed to get his reads down in the preseason, which helped him beat out Graham for the starting job. He said Graham is the better passer of the two but that Patterson is a better runner at this point.
Carden also said Patterson understands the game and has earned the trust of his teammates with his leadership.
"He is a very confident young man," Carden said. "He''s a good leader and a quiet type of leader. He is a guy who goes out and lays it on the line every play. That is the sign of good leadership."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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