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’Dawgs wait for Walker, Webb
Strong Spartan rushing attack, wing-T look concern Maynard


Perhaps this is just another typical Dave Meske-led Webb Spartans football team that will march into Bearden Stadium Friday night: physically-gifted runningback leading the wing-T offense, strong and aggressive offensive line, unselfish players, a major college prospect on defense — and a winning record.

The Spartans bring a 4-1 record, which includes victories against Powell, Notre Dame and Baylor, into BHS for a 7:30 p.m. opening kickoff. Webb will look for its fourth consecutive victory in as many years against the Bulldogs — all in Bearden Stadium.

Meanwhile, Bearden breathed new life into a program shaken by an 0-3 start thanks to a 14-7 overtime win against Karns Sept. 16, at BHS. (See related story).


SPARTAN FOCUS

“We’re playing as a team,” coach Meske said. “Everyone worked hard in the off-season together ... they support their teammates. It’s above what I think you normally see.”

Though the Spartan offense is fueled by talented senior fullback Ryan Walker, a 5-foot-10, 220 pound specimen, “What’s made this football team have so much success is, first of all, great offensive line play,” the coach said. “We’re playing more aggressive and we’re more physical.”

Phillip Mitchell, a 6-foot-5, 250 pound junior offensive tackle who Meske labels a “Division I” major college prospect as a defensive end, joins tackle Taylor Askew (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) and “four different guards we rotate who are all playing well.”

And then there’s senior center Gavin Shepherd, “who’s probably worked harder than almost ninety percent of players involved in high school football just to be a starter,” Meske said.

One BHS key to success according to Maynard, “is to totally disrupt their pulling linemen.”

As for Walker, “Ryan is a great player, he’s such a powerful runner,” Meske said. “He has, I think, about six-hundred-and-thirteen yards rushing (in five games) so far. He’s the person that sets up our offense.”

In terms of Walker’s special qualities, “one, he’s not selfish ... two, he’s so strong,” Meske said. “Here’s an individual who squats about six-hundred pounds.”

Rushing for more than 1,100 yards last season, Meske said Walker is a “Division I, Division I-AA” caliber talent.

BHS head coach Paul Maynard tags Walker as a “great runningback. He’s runs hard, got good speed. We’re going to have our hands full with him.”

In an overall comparison of the 2003 versus 2004 Webb teams, “offensively they’re better this year than they were last year,” Maynard said. “Year-in and year-out they’re solid offensively. They’ve mastered that wing-T. It’s a different offense than most people around this area see. That alone makes it tough to defend. And with a good runningback like the Walker kid, that makes it that much more difficult to defend.

“We see this offense once a year,” the BHS skipper added. “You look at the time frame to prepare … maybe two split practices to get ready for this offense, it’s tough.”

Wingback Evan Smith rushed for 115 yards against Notre Dame Saturday in the Spartans’ 22-7 win. Dean Smith will replace injured Kevin Campbell at the other wingback slot.

BHS will have to face the potent Webb wing-T without standout junior linebacker Adam Canter, who is out for the season following a knee injury suffered against Karns.

While Webb is primarily a run-based offense, Meske said he likes to throw at least four to six times a game and stresses the importance of a high percentage completion rate.

However, senior starting quarterback Authur Long will miss his second consecutive game due to an undisclosed reason. Junior quarterback Tom Dolinak started Saturday, playing in his first-ever varsity game. Meske added that junior Hunter Candela “will see playing time.”

Defensively, “they’re not as good (as 2003),” Maynard said of Webb. “I think we can move the ball on ’em ... but they play hard.”

Meske labels safety Dean Smith as “our most aggressive player, he’s just so physical and he’s a hitter.”

Meske said defensive end Mitchell is a “Division I-type kid. He’s playing just great football. He’s physical, fast, knows the game, plays great technique.”

As for overall speed comparisons, “we have some good speed at runningback, but they have good speed at runningback,” Meske said. As for physical comparisons in the trenches, “we match up well with ’em, there’s no doubt about it,” Maynard said.

 

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