On paper, it was understood that this game was loaded with top recruits, especially at the skilled positions on offense. And it was on full display Thursday night. Manvel’s Reggie Hemphill was probably the best on the field, making some spectacular grabs on the night, further validating the idea that he is a Top 15 wide receiver in the state regardless of class. Gary Haynes was being Gary Haynes, which is a guy who will get open and make lots of plays with his feet, dipping in-and-out of defenders. Deriq King was on point in getting Haynes and Hemphill the ball, but was a masterful playmaker in his own right as well. That Manvel machine works because King works. He can extend plays and not once did he take a crushing hit (if he got hit at all). Westfield up front is as good as any, but what penetration was had did not faze nor rattle King. He side stepped and left the pocket leaving these guys grabbing for air. His scramble touchdown was jaw dropping and once other coaches see that on tape they will likely be left scratching their heads.
On the other side, Westfield receiver Tyrie Cleveland showed flashes of what he can be once the offense starts to click. He’s a big-bodied guy and can stretch the field even though he was not able to get on the page with his quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole, who got banged up and had a rough night as well.
Not sure what popular message board has been stirring this team up, but apparently, despite off the recent success, Manvel still feels a bit slighted. From the players to members of the coaching staff, it seems as though the word on the street is that this Manvel team is “soft,” especially in the trenches. After years of viewing this team, it’s unclear how that conclusion could be drawn. Large offensive lineman have come through this school for years now and running the ball hasn’t been an issue for a number of years. ‘
In addition to the trenches, there’s a legitimate argument to say that William Lockett could be the most physical defensive back checking guys off the line I’ve seen since Dulles’ Maurice Smith, who just happens to be one of the few secondary players to line up for Alabama as a true freshman. And to add to this, Arkansas defensive end and Manvel alumnus Taiwan Johnson is one of the best seen in the last five years at his position. On top of that, go back and watch the tape of Manvel against Aledo in the state finals. There was nothing soft about that showing. So whoever is starting that line of thought is simply uninformed, or perhaps jealous at all of the success this (still seemingly) young program has had.
Wall of Weathersby
Though the night did not bode well for the Westfield team, watching offensive lineman Toby Weathersby was one of the few bright spots. When pass blocking, he had a great drop step and was solid against the end lined up across from him, whom appeared to be close to him in height. Weathersby stood his ground and created the space needed for the quarterback to operate. In run blocking, he was equally impressive. He logged more than few pancakes, and when the run came off his backside, it had a chance to be a successful play.
It was clear that Weathersby is just an overall good athlete. Sure he is a legit 6-foot-5, but the basketball coaches spoke on how well he moves with a basketball (though Weathersby does not play) and how good he looks dunking.
Overall, it was just not Westfield’s night.
Manvel Has Bad ‘Backers
While the secondary gets most of the headlines, but those linebackers for Manvel are impressive. Jordan Carmouche (six tackles, INT) could be said to be the leader of the pack, but B.J. Ojo, Shane Jackson and Leonard Owens (a fill-in who’s primary position is running back) all had great showings as well. This crew account for half of the Manvel stops and was responsible for three interceptions.
Sterling-Cole Needs Time
Word from some of the Westfield faithful was that the new Westfield quarterback has only been in the system for just over a month. And with that, there was an adjustment period that will play out over the course of the season. Going against Manvel, arguably a Top 5 program in the area is a pretty brutal initiation, but you can see that Sterling-Cole has the goods to lead this team a substantial amount of wins.
Anderson Shows SEC
Manvel safety Deontay Anderson, who is still weighing all options and has plenty to choose from, was sporting two wrist bands during the postgame interview: LSU and Texas A&M. Does that mean anything? Who knows? But if you are a fan of either program, you have to at least feel good that he’s thinking about you, or at worst is providing free advertising. Speaking of LSU, he will be at the game against Wisconsin on Saturday at NRG Stadium. On Sunday, he will be in Waco for Baylor/SMU.
Press Box Eats
Spring ISD usually delivers in this category. Barbeque pulled pork with mashed potatoes, green beans and roll. This combination worked out well.