Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

July 16, 2014

Making progress

Brooks County showing improvements in passing league

QUITMAN — Four weeks ago, the Brooks County Trojans took Highway 84 west to Thomas County for a 7-on-7 passing league and on Tuesday morning the Yellow Jackets returned the favor, traveling to Quitman for the second 7-on-7 of the summer between the two teams.

At the first 7-on-7, Thomas County Central had not yet decided on a replacement at quarterback after the school's all-time leading rusher Adam Choice departed for Clemson, but junior Eli Taylor began to make strides towards being the Jackets’ starting signal caller. On Tuesday Taylor's competition got a chance to shine.

Taylor, still participating in summer baseball, missed the passing league, leaving the first-team reps to sophomore Kelias Williams. After a shaky performance the first time around, Williams shone Tuesday, hitting receivers in stride deep down the field and displaying a better feel for the position than in previous workouts.

"(Williams) made some strides today, I felt real pleased with what he did,” TCC coach Bill Shaver said. “He knew he had to step up because Eli wasn't here. Eli is kind of our odds-on-favorite as the guy under the center when we're in (a passing) type of situation, Kelias is more under center kind of guy when we're running option stuff or option stuff out of the gun, so it was a great day for Kelias to have to be the guy. Eli might be hurt in a game, and we get into a situation where its a pass-type deal and he's gotta be able to step up.

"I was pleased with the way he competed."

Williams made several good throws throughout the morning, showing a good connection with receivers Stanley Samuel and Austin McCleod, the former of which drew praise from Shaver himself.

"Austin McCleod, I thought had a great day at receiver,” Shaver said. “He had some really, really good routes. He got stuck in a lot of man coverage today which means you've got to be a bit more precise with your routes and I thought he did a good job with his routes."

While TCC has gone through summer with competition to be the signal caller, Brooks County hitched its wagon to junior Demontay Jones.

Jones has been saddled the difficult task of replacing Trojan great Malkom Parrish, but Brooks coach Maurice Freeman likes what he's seen out of his young quarterback thus far.

"He’s got to get those jitters out, he's got to get those bugs out, but he's learning every day,” Freeman said. “He's hearing our voice more, we're yelling at him and coaching him up. There's some things he's got to work on and everyd ay he gets on the field he makes an attempt to get better and that's all you can really ask for out of a quarterback.

"Big ol' kid, strong, long, he's eager to learn and he's very coachable. So, we expect some big things out of him and if he does that, I think he can take us a long way at the end of the season."

Jones looked more comfortable running the offense than in the previous passing league, going through his progressions and putting the ball on target more times than not.

The early workings of a synergistic bond between Jones and wide receiver Exavius Medlock was evident during the 7-on-7 skeleton as the two hooked up for multiple big plays throughout the morning.

"Medlock is a very talented kid," said Freeman. "He's a very talented corner; he plays a little of both. He's got a couple of offers from some colleges — Troy and Georgia Southern. He's a top of the line guy, very, very coachable, senior this year, and we expect some big things out of him."

Near the end of the workouts Brooks' offense began to run some no-huddle and hurry to prepare for the upcoming season.

"That's something we do all the time,” Freeman said. “It gets us in shape, but that's what we like doing.

"It gets us in shape and they can hear the kind of things we're trying to get done in a game."

Brooks has continued to run a bit of a hurry-up attack as the strategy has increased in popularity in recent seasons, something that Shaver has picked up on, but the long-time TCC coach isn't looking to mimic the trend anytime soon.

"It's great practice for your defense because that's going to happen in a game," said Shaver. "It kind of seems to be the fad. Everyone wants to see how many plays they can run.

"My whole deal, at Thomas County, obviously offensively we want to keep the ball the whole time so we aren't in a rush to run a lot of plays. We're going to huddle and we're going to use all the clock and hope we have three possessions in a half and that all you're going to get is three too. We're going to control it with the run. It's still good for our defense to see that stuff and have to adjust, but it's a good thing our defense is a little more veteran group and we've thrown a good number of times this summer, but it's still good to see that."

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