West Bolivar coach Henry Johnson predicted “troubles” when he learned Calhoun City would be his team’s opponent in Friday’s 2A state semifinals.
Johnson, who moments before had watched his team surrender two touchdown passes in last week’s 28-14 quarterfinals win against Coahoma County, told a reporter: “We’ve got a spread football team that we’re facing (next week) in Calhoun City. They throw it 200 yards a game.
“If we can’t cover the pass any better than the way we covered tonight, we’ve got troubles.”
Johnson’s prediction for his squad’s difficulty against the pass starts with his knowledge of Calhoun City quarterback J.R. Jennings, who has completed 159 of 222 passes for 2,491 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Jennings’ favorite target, Demarius Howard, has 1,000 yards receiving and 12 touchdown receptions.
“J.R. makes us a lot better,” Calhoun City coach Perry Liles said. “He has an ability to stay calm, cool. He keeps it together.”
Liles pointed to Jennings’ 2 for 9 passing start in last week’s 23-21 quarterfinals win against East Webster.
The senior responded by completing 17 of 22 passes to lead the Wildcats to a comeback win.
“He’s not the only senior who played well for us,” Liles added. “All of our seniors played exceptional games last week.”
West Bolivar (12-2) brings a young team to Calhoun City (14-0) this week. Two of the Eagles’ leaders are sophomores – tailback Kailo Moore and quarterback Kylan Johnson.
Moore, who rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns last week against Coahoma County, has totaled 2,201 rushing yards this season and scored 32 touchdowns.
“That tailback doesn’t play like a sophomore,” Liles said. “You’ve got to stop him to beat them.”
West Bolivar’s lone losses came against larger schools – 4A Cleveland and 5A Clarksdale – at the beginning of the season.
“They are not a one-person team,” Liles added. “They’ve got good team speed like they’ve always had. Their lineman block really well and stay low.
“We’ve got to play solid defense and not give up the big play. On offense, we can’t turn the ball over and we have to give J.R. time to throw.”
Time to give West Bolivar those predicted “troubles.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal