Davidson linebacker Chris Hughes hit the weightroom hard this summer in hopes of a break out season…
No. 3 Warriors Marching On
Davidson was leading Daphne late in the opening game 21-14, and the Warriors were all set to punt and hold on to the win. That's when it happened.
"All we wanted to do was punt it, just punt it," Riley said. "He's the best long snapper we have ever had, in terms of getting the ball back there with great velocity. He rips it back there."
"The first one was perfect. The second one was a little high, and the third one was just untouchable. We started to put in our backup punter just to eliminate the possibility because he is 6-2, but we thought we would be OK, then he rips it over the punter's head."
All's well that ends well, Davidson was able to hold Daphne on the short field to preserve the non-region win.
Other than a few nerves, quarterback Jarrell Smith (Sr. 6-0, 195) picked up right where he left off in Riley's triple option offense.
"Jarrell was just getting in too big of a hurry to execute the play we called, and dropped it a couple of times," Riley said. "We had the ball five times, first and 10 inside the 25, and only scored seven points."
"We really played like we did last year in our week two game. A lot of the same mistakes, so I think we're maybe a game ahead of last year."
This third-ranked Davidson squad is too good for things like that to go on two weeks in a row, but with a new offensive line, tight end, punter, both snappers, kicker and holder all in their first year it is a little too hopeful to think all of it will go away.
"The thing about it is that all of them are physically, potentially better than everybody we had in those positions last year," Riley said. "We've just got to work through some things with them. I think we'll be fine."
Davidson had a much better game than the 21-14 score tells. The Warriors marched 153 yards in their first seven plays of the game. A Terrance Timmons (Jr. 5-6, 170) run of 42-yards for a score and a Jarrell Smith pass to Rashad Cunningham (Jr. 6-4, 200) resulted in a 77-yard touchdown. Running back Darian Craig (Sr. 5-10, 190) also had a sterling game with 135 yards rushing.
"We dominated the game except for two drives they had on offense," Riley said. "Almost the whole game was played on their side of the 50."
Davidson will face a team this week that also faced some challenges last week, Mattie T. Blount High.
Coach Kevin Sigler's team played LeFlore, and they really had some cobwebs to shake off. Although they more than doubled LeFlore's offensive yardage 270-140, the 12 penalties for more than 100 yards and five turnovers severely restricted their efforts in a 12-6 win.
Davidson is a much more established team than LeFlore, and Blount won't be able to make those mistakes.
"For whatever reason sometimes teams play to their level of competition," Riley reasoned, "and LeFlore did not play very well. So Blount just played right along with them most of the game."
"Blount is built on defense, and that's where their best players are, for the most part. Their punt return game is real good because of all those defensive kids on it."
"Offensively, they are in the spread system that is really designed to get the ball out in space, and Calvin Davidson (Sr. 5-10, 160) is the guy they are trying to get the ball to repeatedly."
"I think he ended up with nine touches and caught six passes, ran three reverses on offense. He fielded two punts, so they got the ball in his hands 11 times. He played quarterback for them last year a lot of times."
Blount had two big special teams' plays last week, a 35-yard return in the second quarter from the Alabama commitment Jarrick Williams to the Rattlers' 10-yeard line, where Davidson caught a short pass for the score.
Their second score was the result of a 25-yard return by Davidson to the eight yard line in the fourth quarter. It took the Leopards three plays to convert Davidson's return into a touchdown.
There is a little bittersweet irony about this game for Riley and his fellow coaches.
"Jarrick is a great player, but I was certainly hoping that this game would show our belief that Chris Hughes is just as good as Jarrick, but Chris is still out."
Hughes (Sr. 6-0, 210) accounted for 118 tackles last season, seven for a loss of yards and caught three interceptions in a defensive secondary that from top-to-bottom has to be one of the best in the state.
Williams had similarly good stats last season, and Hughes has a spate of top teams offering him scholarships.
"The injury came in a non-contact period," Riley says with some disgust. "He was in the secondary running up in a non-contact drill, and a kid got knocked down and rolled up his ankle. No where near the ball."
Hughes had to have a ligament reattached.
"They put him in a cast to insure it would heal faster," Riley explained. "He's supposed to get the cast off Friday, and then we'll just gage his conditioning, when we decide to get him involved."
"Last year, Jarrick made almost every tackle against us. Every time we got Jarrell (Smith) to the second level and he was about to run off with it, Jarrick tackled him. He's just a very, very physical tackler."
Blount might use Williams in another capacity this week that Riley halfway expects.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see him play offense more," Riley said. "They put him in at wide receiver, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him at running back this game and try to establish a little more of a running game."
"Jarrick is a big strong straight line runner. He could establish some inside running for them if they saw fit to do it."
Blount (1-0) vs. Davidson (1-0)
September 4 7:00 PM
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