The Broome Centurions are 0-1 this season when throwing more than four passes in a game.
South Pointe, which hosts Broome Friday in a pivotal Region 3-3A high school football game, could spend its four days of practice trying to figure out how to get Jet Turner’s team to throw that elusive, and apparently outcome-altering, fifth pass.
Instead, Strait Herron’s Stallions (5-3, 3-0 in Region 3-3A, No. 7 in 3A state rankings) are attempting to mimic Broome’s triple option offense in practice to get an idea of how to defend the scheme, a relative oddity in these spread-football times. The Centurions (7-1, 3-0, No. 6) threw five passes in a 41-14 loss to Woodruff, but they’ve thrown four or less in their other seven games, all wins.
Friday’s victor will have a nose ahead in the sprint to a region championship. It’s a gratifying spot to be in for South Pointe, which some might have written off after a three-game losing streak in September.
“We play those tougher teams in non-region to get ready for this,” said Herron. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing in 4A or playing in 3A. We want to play the best teams. Even if you lose, you’re getting better prepared.”
Unfortunately, South Pointe couldn’t find any Broome-like teams to put on the schedule.
Turner led Clover to the 2007 state championship during a fruitful eight-year tenure, and his Broome teams are similarly reliant on running the ball. Turner’s Clover squads ran the double-wing, but Broome utilizes the triple option, a shift made because of available personnel.
“At Clover it seemed like we had wing-backs coming for days,” said Turner. “Here, we just don’t have as many running backs. So I just did some research and went around. We wanted to do something that not everybody does, because we’re not gonna out-athlete anybody. We’ve got some kids that play hard and we want to give them a fair chance to succeed, and we felt like this would be it.”
The results have been emphatic. Broome averages over 370 rushing yards per game and eight yards per carry, and has thrown just 21 passes this season. In last week’s 58-44 win over Chester, the Centurions didn’t throw the ball once, but ran for 542 yards in a game that wasn’t quite as close as the score indicated.
Senior running back Desmond Anderson was nigh unstoppable that night, and has been for much of the season. Anderson has churned up 1,636 yards already, and has topped 200 yards three times, and 300 yards twice. He’s also returned a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown and is averaging 11.9 yards per rushing attempt. Non-believers may dismiss Broome as a system offense, but Anderson is a player whose ability transcends scheme.
“He’d be good in anything you do,” said Turner. “He does a lot of things for us and he also draws so much attention that it helps other things we do. He’s just a special player and a super kid.”
There could be a number of wild guesses for where Turner’s nickname “Jet” comes from, but he laughs before revealing it’s just the three initials of his name. If South Pointe, which is 13-0 all-time in 3A region games, plays a focused and smart game defensively, Broome’s offense might also be revealed as ... a bit of a letdown.
“You’re not gonna shut them down, that’s not gonna happen,” said Herron. “We’ve just got to be there to make plays, get the ball out of their hands, and don’t let them burn the clock so our offense can get on the field.”
The Centurions sound like invincible comic book villains, but they have vulnerabilities. The team’s defense is allowing just short of 30 points per game, and both Herron and Turner alluded to South Pointe possessing a pronounced athleticism advantage in this matchup. Centurion linebacker Bauveir Jackson was selected to the Shrine Bowl, and his sophomore brother, D’Marco, leads the team in tackles, but they’re the standouts.
“Most people are a little faster than them, and I think they’ve got most of their better players on offense,” said Herron. “We’ve got to do what we always do: take what they give us and execute, take care of the ball, no penalties, drive the ball down the field and score.”
South Pointe had a tough time doing that last part against a staunch Lancaster defense, but scored 35 and 44 in its first two region wins. Quarterback Greg Ruff continues to be an offensive catalyst and is completing 77 percent of his passes the last three weeks, with six touchdowns and just one interception. As a team, the Stallions have only turned the ball over three times in three region contests.
Crucially, a defense that replaced a number of graduated quality starters is sharpening its incisors. That unit, led by seniors Ty Barber (linebacker), Brandon Fisher (defensive end) and a re-involved Demon Davis (linebacker), has forced seven turnovers and 14 sacks in region action. Barber had 26 tackles against Union, while Davis came through last week with 12 tackles and a sack against Lancaster.
It all sounds good, right?
“I think the guys are seeing now, ‘hey man, we can do this, we’ve just got to work harder,’” said Herron.
That may not have been the feeling last month, but it is now. The Stallions broke down their Tuesday practice with a unison “DECEMBER,” a nod to the final week of the high school football season when they expect to still be playing. It’s late October and South Pointe looks to have figured out its early-season troubles. Now the question is how to bait Broome into that fifth pass attempt.