GREENSBORO: Raiders plan to mix in more running
Wed. August 22, 2012 at 11:00 p.m. | By Becky Hopf
Greensboro High School offensive coordinator Matthew Melton (center) talks with QB Quante Brown (12) during a huddle at an early summer practice in Greensboro. (Photo by Stewart Gwin)
GREENSBORO | The passing game has been one of Greensboro's strengths in recent years, and this season the Raiders' offense could be featuring an equally strong running game.
"We're known for putting the ball in their air," said third-year head coach Curtis Graves, who has led Greensboro to back-to-back state playoff appearances. "Our passing game has been our strength, but we're looking to mix it up with some more running. We've got a couple of backs who can make some plays."
Those backs include returning senior starter Thadius Minor, junior Ahmad Bennett and sophomore Cordell Chavers.
"Last year I thought we could go pretty deep into the playoffs, but then we lost a lot of key men to injuries, including our quarterback, our best lineman and our leading receiver," Graves said. "We have small numbers anyway, so it all came back to haunt us. Once we lost our quarterback, our offense plummeted. And losing your best lineman is not good for the backup quarterback."
Senior quarterback Quante Brown has recovered from the shoulder injury that took him out of the lineup early last season. And, just to be safe, Greensboro is working three other players at quarterback for its spread offense, including sophomores Jesmon Wiggins and Marlon McCain and versatile senior KaVoris Owens, who also plays tight end, wide receiver and defensive end.
"Quante is strong passing and running," Graves said. "He's got good wheels on him. And he's good at scrambling."
When Brown is passing, his key target is senior wide receiver JeVontey Smith, who has committed to play at the University of Kentucky. Senior Darryl Campbell, Owens, junior Tyrez McCain, Darrylvontae Campbell and Marquis Lawson are also part of a deep receiving corps.
Greensboro primarily runs the 4-3 defense, spinning off into a 3-4 and 4-4 at times. Senior middle linebacker JaBaris Davis leads the defense.
"He's the heart and the soul of the defense," Graves said. "He has mental and physical toughness. He works hard and has earned everything he's been given. He's the hardest worker on our team."
The Raiders spent the summer attending camps and 7-on-7 events, working to help reach their goal of a deep playoff run.
"We come from a poor, rural community, and thanks to help from some of our churches we were able to attend a lot of camps. Our players are better because of that extra work which we hope can result in success and maybe a few more kids getting the opportunity to go to college," Graves said.