Friday, September 21, 2007

Two Single-Wing Teams Battle It Out

September 20, 2007

Scott-James Monroe game pits top backs
Two Single-Wing Teams Battle It Out

By Rick Ryan
Assistant Sports Editor

Seats should be at a premium Friday at the H.E. Comer Sports Complex in Lindside. Not only will two of the state’s top Class AA teams square off when Scott visits James Monroe, but two of the best running backs as well.

Similarities abound with the two teams. Both feature high-scoring clubs (JM at 44 points per game, Scott 32), both offenses run out of what can be described as single-wing formations and both feature running backs wearing No. 28 with similar surnames.

The No. 3 Mavericks (4-0) are led by junior Taylor Robertson, while the No. 6 Skyhawks (3-1) bank on senior Jordan Roberts.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Robertson has run for more than 500 yards and nine touchdowns this season, while the 5-11, 210-pound Roberts has gained 1,127 yards and scored 10 TDs on the ground. Each takes direct snaps from center and can also throw the ball with success.

“Sometimes you talk about matchups making a game,’’ said Scott coach Shane Griffith, “and these are two similar-style offenses, and that’s going to make a great matchup, I believe. Both of us believe in dominant running offenses and strong defenses. It should be a fun game.’’

Scott relies more on Roberts than JM does on Robertson.

Roberts is more than 800 yards ahead of the Skyhawks’ No. 2 rusher, Randy Bishop (26 carries, 270 yards), while the Mavericks have a pair of runners near 400 yards in senior Ernie Tincher and junior Nick Kisiel, a converted end.

James Monroe coach David Witt has taken notice of Roberts’ talents.

“He’s a game-breaker, really,’’ Witt said. “He’s got good speed and good quickness. To start with, he’s tough to get a piece of, and at the same time, he’s powerful to go along with it. It’ll be a tall task to try and slow him down.

“They set him back there in that shotgun and run a West Virginia-style offense. They’ll snap it directly to him for a running play, or he’ll do some zone reads that a lot of teams have gone to. Add to that the fact that he can throw the ball kind of makes it a three-pronged attack with one player. They bring a lot to the table to try and defend.’’

Each runner in the Mavericks’ three-man backfield has already posted a big game this season. Robertson rushed for 218 yards and three TDs in a 35-0 win over Oak Hill, Kisiel ran for 160 yards and two scores that night, and Tincher galloped for 149 yards and two TDs in a 35-6 victory at Shady Spring.

“They’ve got a backfield full,’’ Griffith said. “We’ve watched them on film and they’re definitely a power running team with that single wing.

“The thing we’ve noticed about their offense and their running backs is that they play with a purpose. They know their system very well and they believe in it. You can tell their running backs trust the people in front of them. They’re not hesitant at all about where the play’s going to go. It’s going to be an extremely difficult battle for our young defense. But at the same time, it’s been difficult to run the football on us in the past, and we hold to that tradition.’’

Thus far, Robertson has been the best option in the Mavericks’ backfield, but Witt stresses that he’s not the lone option.

“We’ve been fortunate so far that we’ve been able to move the ball consistently,’’ Witt said, “and [Robertson’s] been a big part of that. He’s certainly a key ingredient because he’s a good running back and he can throw the ball for us. But you can’t sit there [on defense] and sit on one guy. They all make each other better because of that.’’

To contact assistant sports editor Rick Ryan, use e-mail or call 348-5175.

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