November 20, 2009 8:00:00 AM
MABEN -- Ledrick Patterson knew it wasn''t going to be easy taking over for Johnthan Banks at quarterback for the East Webster High School football team.
What made it especially tough for Patterson was he had never played the position. He wasn''t even listed as a quarterback on the preseason roster.
Patterson, who started at wide receiver last season, didn''t let those factors stop him. In fact, the junior has matured as the season has progressed and has led the Wolverines into the third round of the Class 2A playoffs, where they will play host to Ackerman at 7 p.m. Friday.
Once the coaches told Patterson he would play quarterback, he started adapting to the position and a new offense.
"I stepped in and did my best," Patterson said. "I spent the summer learning plays and tried to work at it. I''ve gotten better and it''s been successful."
Primarily a running quarterback, Patterson had 5 yards on nine carries in his first game this season. Last week, he had 124 yards on 19 attempts in a 28-14 victory against Calhoun City. His effort matched the season-high output he had against Alcorn Central.
Patterson, who has rushed for 597 yards on 127 carries, admits it was a little intimidating stepping in for Banks, who is a freshman safety at Mississippi State.
"It was a little pressure because he took the team a long way last year and I''m coming in with no experience at quarterback," Patterson said. "I''m trying to take the team as far as we can go."
East Webster High coach Jimmy Carden said the pressure of replacing Banks might have been too much for Patterson to live up to at first.
"Since he''s been here and a lot of other guys haven''t been here, I think he felt he was going to have to step up and get a lot done," Carden said. "He thought just an average effort by me is not going to do it. Sometimes when you try to press and do to much you''ll make some mistakes."
Carden said Patterson has come a long way at quarterback and has settled in the last three or four games for the Wolverines (7-6).
"He has realized he doesn''t have to do it all by himself and there are teammates around him who are going to pull their weight and do their part," Carden said. "Since then, he''s been a better football player."
Patterson''s play epitomizes the team''s effort in its the playoff run.
"The last three and a half games we''ve played real well," Carden said. "It was something you knew they could do. They just lacked a little confidence in getting there. Things started coming together and one thing built on another, then there''s the tradition they''re building on from past years. They''ve learned from some good football players. Each group has to continue that tradition. The combination of those things has gotten us where we are."
Carden liked his team coming into the season, but he wasn''t sure how the players would perform once "they are under fire and had to play four quarters."
Patterson noticed a change in the second half of an 18-14 victory against J.Z. George that has carried into the playoffs.
After beginning the season playing as a team, Patterson said the Wolverines lost that edge during the season until the J.Z. George game.
"When we started losing, everybody was ready to quit and give up," Patterson said. "In the second half of the J.Z. George game everyone came back together and got right."
Patterson pointed to the play of the offensive line, running backs, and defense as keys. He said all three areas need to be at the tops of their games Friday if East Webster hopes to beat Ackerman (13-0).
"We''re going to have to be intense the whole game," Patterson said. "We know they have good players we are going to have to stop. If we stop them and play our game like we know how to play, I think we''ll do well."
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4. Four Bulldogs named to Preseason Coaches All-SEC team COLLEGE SPORTS