Westside, Howard ready to get their seasons going Friday night
Westside head coach Spoon Risper can’t wait for Friday night.
The Seminoles, coming off a season in which they recovered from a 2-4 start to end up at 6-5, open their season Friday against Howard. The two teams have played five times, and Howard has never won in the series.
“Let’s throw the records out the door because (Howard head coach) Barney Hester will have his kids ready to play, and this is a huge crosstown battle,” Risper said. “Everyone in Macon has a way of playing very well against us, and I know that Howard will come out sky high, and we know that we have to be ready for them. No one wants to lose the first game of the season.”
Westside has some question marks but also has veteran leadership in Omar Jones, Emmanuel Boone and Tavores Pearson, three players who Risper will count on heavily. But Westside is young at quarterback, with sophomore Victor Dixon, taking the snaps from center.
“We feel very confident in Victor, and he is a true drop-back passer,” Risper said. “But we also know he will make those mistakes that young quarterbacks do. We need him to grow up in a hurry, and we are confident that he will.”
Ripser is thrilled to have Richard Fendley Jr. as his new defensive coordinator.
“I played with him in college, and his dad is a legendary defensive coach from Warner Robins High,” Risper said. “We are doing a lot of the same things defensively, but he brings that WWE mentality to our defense. He is a great motivator, and the kids just want to play for him.”
Howard is looking to start the season in a positive manner after suffering through a one-win season a year ago.
“I feel like we are much improved, and we had a very good spring and summer,” said Hester, whose team has three games in the first 15 days of the season. “Some of the guys we thought would play for us this year are not here anymore, and that’s OK. We are very pleased with who we have at this point. We are going back to a lot of option and I-formation stuff, and we are starting to get comfortable with it.”
Hester was quick to point out several players who will be heavily counted on.
“Our quarterback Quintin Sewell and our backs Jarquavious Coleman and Jeremiah Kelly will be very important for us, as well as our center, Hayden Crosby,” Hester said. “On defense, we will look to M’Khai Mack, Quintavius Morant and DeAndre Shelton to be leaders for us. If those guys are as good as I think they can be, we will be all right.
Hester admitted that opening against Westside is a tall order for his team.
“They are just so good on both sides of the football, but we are anxious to get on the football field and see how much we have improved,” Hester said. “This game will be a measuring stick for us as a football team, and we feel like we are ready to go.”
Westside vs. Howard
7:30 p.m., Friday at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex