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Is it too early to say that first year coach Jeremiah Ross is turning around the Caroline High School football team?
Maybe, but one thing is for sure. The Cavaliers are giving their fans some exciting – and winning – nights of football on Friday evening.
With last week’s close win over Spotsylvania, Caroline now has two victories so far this season – as many wins as they earned in each of the past two campaigns.
Ross has implemented a spread offense and a potent passing attack. Some key players and perhaps all of the Cavaliers appear on their way to redeeming themselves from a program that was a dismal 2-8 the past two seasons.
The spark on offense is being provided by a trio of seniors: quarterback Curtis Leacock and receivers DaQuan Pollard and Bevontae Morris.
After four games, Leacock has completed 57 of 105 attempted passes for 1,040 yards and six touchdowns and also has rushed for four touchdowns. He has suffered nine interceptions.
“He is a fine young man on and off the field,” said Ross. “He works hard at practice and studies the films to see how he can improve.”
While other coaches relegated Leacock to backup duties in the past because of his size (he is 5-foot-10, 155 pounds), Ross has given him an opportunity to prove himself.
Leacock participated as a quarterback in various combines and camps in the off-season “to try to be every thing this team needs,” he said. He was grateful to Ross “for believing in me,” said Leacock.
Pollard and Morris are Leacock’s favorite targets, and it’s easy to understand why: they can catch the football and run with it. The two also are standouts on the Caroline High School track teams. Morris was a member of the 4×100 relay squad that won first place in the Region 1 championship meet last spring, and he took three other top-10 finishes in other events. Pollard won second place in the 110-meter hurdles at the Region 1 meet, and both represented Caroline in the state championship track meet.
Pollard leads the football team with 22 catches for 417 yards – an average of nearly 19 yards per reception – and a touchdown. Morris is second on the team with 12 catches for 291 yards, an average of 24 yards per reception, and three touchdowns.
Pollard “moves really well with the ball” after making a catch, observed Leacock. As the team’s leading receiver, he draws a lot of attention from defensive backs, which some times leaves Morris a wide open target.
“You can’t guard them both,” said Leacock.
Pollard, a soft-spoken and focused athlete, is enjoying this season but makes little of his accomplishments on the field. “It is all about the team – what is best for them,” said Pollard
Morris, who leads on the team on defense with three interceptions, is not shy about the fact that he is enjoying the season so far. “I’m having way more fun,” said Morris, now that the Cavaliers have instituted a bonafide passing attack.
At the mid-point of the team’s 2011 season, Morris and some other players went to former coach Gene Boley and asked him to implement a spread offense. Boley told them the team did not have enough good athletes, according to Morris. All the players heard about was “wing T, wing T” – the running offense that Boley instilled both his seasons.
On defense, junior Corey Wright is pacing the team with 30 tackles, a figure that includes solo tackles and assists, while senior Devontae Chatman is second with 29 and leads the team with four sacks. Senior Joe Shiflett leads the team with 26 solo tackles and is third overall with 26 tackles.