VALDOSTA -- After switching to the wing-T offense, No. 5 Lowndes High was not expected to defend its title as the best passing team in Region 1-AAAAA.
Yet after the first week of the regular season, the Vikings (1-0) once again have the most passing yards among the five region teams that played last week. Quarterback Brandon Ponder threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns in Lowndes' 18-15 win over Westside-Macon. That performance helped offset a tough night for the LHS ground game, which picked up just 89 yards and was all but shut down after Demetrius Henry's 42-yard gain in the first quarter.
Head coach Randy McPherson said that Lowndes was forced to throw more once the Seminoles stacked eight and nine defenders near the line of scrimmage. But he feels the running game still must pick up the slack.
"I was real pleased to get a win, I was real pleased with the effort. However, I still don't think we are where we need to be," said McPherson. "We're not trying to lead the region in passing. We're really not designed for that, but we want to do what it takes to win.
"Our running game has a ways to go. Looking back at the film (there were) some missed assignments and things like that hindering us from moving the ball on the ground."
That inability to move the ball in tight quarters cost Lowndes last Friday. The Vikings had three first-half possessions in scoring range -- including twice inside the 10 yard line -- and came away with no points. McPherson figures when then running game improves, the red zone execution will follow.
"We're going to get better in that area," he said. "The bottom line is, we got down to the 10 yard line and we had six shots to make a play. Each play is designed to work and on those six snaps and they didn't."
The next challenge for Lowndes comes Saturday night against traditional powerhouse Southwest DeKalb-Decatur. The Panthers (0-1) fell 16-13 to Marist-Atlanta, the No. 7 team in Class AAAA. Kickoff at DeKalb Memorial Stadium in Clarkston is at 7:30 p.m. (Radio WVGA-FM 105.9)
EXTRA POINTS: Wide receiver Cory Clemons saw extensive time at linebacker in two preseason scrimmages, but did not play on defense against Westside. "He hasn't repped much on defense, because he does so much on offense," said McPherson. "But in a pinch, I wouldn't hesitate to throw him in there." ... The Vikings were injury-free through Wednesday's practice and McPherson said he anticipates no changes to his starting lineup. ... Lowndes did not practice Monday because of the extra day before Saturday's game and the Labor Day holiday.
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