As fast as Johnny Jefferson is, the Shoemaker senior running back couldn’t keep up with the Temple Wildcats scoring-wise.
So, the Grey Wolves performed a balancing act and took to the air.
The added dimension, Shoemaker coach Channon Hall believes, can only give the Grey Wolves a better chance against district title contender Copperas Cove when the two face off at Leo Buckley Stadium tonight at 7.
“That’s all that we’re trying to do is bring some balance,” Hall said. “If they give us an opportunity to throw it, we can throw it, and if they cover our receivers, it gives us room to run it.”
Jefferson, coming off back-to-back 300-yard rushing games before the Grey Wolves’ off week, carried the ball just 16 times for 58 yards and two touchdowns in Shoemaker’s 69-37 loss to Temple. But Tequan Felder completed 18 of 21 passes for 202 yards and Shoemaker (1-3, 0-1 8-5A) put up 336 passing yards, way overshooting the 74 passing yards the Grey Wolves averaged through their first three games.
“I think that was more the score and what we were trying to do,” Hall said of Jefferson’s lack of his usual production. “They didn’t do anything to take him away from the game plan. It’s just we felt we needed to try to throw the ball and get some points on the board, spread them out a little bit, and that’s what we went to, that’s what was working.”
Copperas Cove (3-1, 1-0) also established enough of a passing game in its 64-28 win over Killeen last week to give the Bulldawgs another credible scoring option as well.
Cove quarterbacks Robbie Seybold and Nick DePrisco combined for 187 yards, five touchdowns and just three incompletions.
“They are both excelling when they get in the ballgame, and that is a powerful thing for a football team, and it is a powerful thing for a coach,” Cove coach Jack Welch said of his quarterback duo. “And for both players to have their heads in the game all along, that is great for them and for the team.”
Just don’t expect tonight’s game to be a battle between gunslingers.
The Bulldawgs are still very much a running team — they gained 336 of their 523 yards on the ground — and Jefferson, the district’s leading rusher (797 yards, 11 TDs), remains the Grey Wolves’ key cog on offense.
“(Giving up big plays to Killeen) concerns us because when you are playing Johnny Jefferson, the young man is very talented and their offensive line is giving him some room,” Welch said. “All you’ve got to do is give a kid like Johnny a crack, and he can make something happen.
“But I was also impressed with Shoemaker spreading the ball last week and opening it up,” Welch added. “They are throwing the ball well and getting other people involved.”
Hall hopes the step-up performances by a handful of other Shoemaker playmakers against Temple is a sign his offense is truly balancing out.
“Guys got some confidence. We’ve got a lot of playmakers on this team, so we just need them to make plays all the time from here on out,” Hall said.
Qwoy Blunt caught 10 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown, Jovante Warren had seven receptions for 72 yards, and Ziere Banner accounted for more than 100 yards of total offense (69 rushing yards, 44 passing yards) and two touchdowns (one running, one passing).
While the Grey Wolves passed around the ball, Rashaun Gibson did most of the Dawgs’ receiving damage. The senior caught six passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 17 yards and another touchdown.
Coupled with running back Vondareaz King, who ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns last week and has totaled 667 yards and 6 touchdowns this season, the Bulldawgs have a monster offense.
“They got No. 80 (Gibson) out there — he’s a big playmaker — but I know that’s not what they want to do. They want to run the ball, that’s what Cove wants to do,” Hall said. “First thing we need to do is stop the run, and the rest will take care of itself. I think as long as the secondary does not make any mistakes and doesn't play confused, they’ll be fine.”