August 16, 2014 7:15:17 PM
By David Miller
Special to The Dispatch
STARKVILLE -- Nothing about Aberdeen High School's 33-7 win over Philadelphia High School Saturday surprised quarterback Joshua Williams. Not the four touchdowns he logged, nor the touchdown passes of 46 and 69 yards he threw to Tyreke Gates
After all, Aberdeen eclipsed 30 points or more in six games last season. But the Bulldogs only went 7-6 and were bounced in the second round of the playoffs.
What made the Bulldogs' blowout win in Saturday's New Hope Fall Jamboree at Davis Wade Stadium was the near flawless execution.
Williams was 6-of-8 for 150 yards and two passing touchdowns. He added 54 yards on the ground with two scores.
"Our execution is the biggest difference from last year," Williams said. "It's night and day. Everyone is in the right places, doing the right things."
Williams was especially in-sync with Gates, who caught five passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Gates caught a screen out of the left slot, shook a defender, and zipped up the left sideline for a 46-yard score that gave Aberdeen a 7-0 lead. Williams later turned a bad snap into points when he peeled around the left end and found Gates between a pair of defenders. Gates shook both and sprinted untouched for a 69-yard score.
"I don't really have a favorite route or play," Gates explained, "I like to find soft spots in the zone, then stick and move them. And it helps to have a quarterback like Josh, someone who can make the throws from the pocket and on the run."
Aberdeen coach Mark Bray said the Bulldogs' passing success Saturday shouldn't be viewed as the Bulldogs' primary plan of attack this season.
"What we try to do is spread it out from sideline to sideline, run it into empty spots," Bray said. "They didn't spread out with us, so we threw it around. We're not a running team or a passing team -- we're a balanced offense.
"This is a veteran team," Bray added. "These guys have been playing together for three or four years."
That balance Bray desires from his offense carries over to depth chart, too. Backup quarterback Tramonte Prather was just as crisp as Williams, as the junior went 2 for 4 with 45 yards and a touchdown in the second half of the second quarter.
"Something happens to our starter, we know we have an excellent individual behind him," Bray said. "We don't mind running our starter because we have that luxury."
Williams said despite the expected success of the offense Saturday, he felt like the Bulldogs took "a major step forward." He said the Bulldogs feel the have a complete team capable of making it back to Starkville for the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A state title game.
"You have to be realistic, so I'm not gonna say we're gonna win the state title game," he said. "But we're not working for second best. It isn't an expectation so to speak, but we don't work for second best."
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