Northeast coach Isaac Shelby considered quarterback and Northeast High football star Jalen Reeves-Maybin about 50-50 as to whether he would play in last week’s Class 5A playoff opener against Station Camp.
Reeves-Maybin silenced talk of his shoulder injury with a 314-yard performance that included five touchdowns as the Eagles ran away with a 34-14 victory to advance to the second round.
For Friday night, Shelby still considers Reeves-Maybin 50-50 considering his shoulder injury still has not healed and won’t be healed for the remainder of the season.
“The problem is, he isn’t practicing much,” said Shelby as his team prepares for a second round matchup against Centennial at 7 p.m. Friday at Northeast High. “He can’t really practice — not without risking further injuring his shoulder. So with that, he’s 50-50 about whether he’ll play. Anyone who doesn’t practice much is 50-50 in my opinion.”
Reeves-Maybin’s uncertainty may not fool any opponent. Most teams will continue to prepare as if Reeves-Maybin is 100 percent healthy. He certainly showed what an injured Tennessee commit can do given the opportunity, and Centennial (7-4) isn’t going to get caught up in trying to figure out what kind of player will run out on the field.
Reeves-Maybin warmed up prior to the Station Camp game and aggravated his injury. He had his shoulder pads off just before the coin toss, but ran out on the field during the Eagles’ first offensive possession. He went on to torch Station Camp and has his Eagles on the verge of a second state quarterfinal appearance in three years.
“Once he got the adrenaline going, he was fine,” Shelby said. “But it’s a constant, day-to-day battle to kind of pin down just how he feels with his shoulder. It’s a decision he makes everyday and it’s one we have to make, as coaches, on a daily basis.”
Northeast’s win last week gave a banged up squad an extra week to prepare a backup option for Reeves-Maybin at quarterback. That may turn to sophomore backup Marquez McCalpin.
McCalpin is a more natural passer than Reeves-Maybin and was the team’s No. 3 quarterback. A broken wrist suffered by No. 2 quarterback Montrell Pardue has forced Shelby to use his talented, but young and inexperienced underclassman.
“Marquez is a great player,” Shelby said. “He just needs the reps but he can make the throws. He’s going to be a great one for us.”
Shelby said he wasn’t sure who would see the bulk of time at quarterback, but did say if Reeves-Maybin can go he’ll start. McCalpin gives Northeast an added passing dimension its been lacking since Pardue’s injury against Kenwood nearly a month ago. Pardue is expected to see limited action Friday after having his cast reduced from his elbow to his forearm this week.
“Having Marquez and Dontavious (Fort-Merriweather) in the backfield, that gives us the option to also move Jalen around a bit,” Shelby said. “We can also formation teams a bit more. It just gives us some different looks offensively that make the defense have to think more about what we’ll run.”
Centennial crushed Portland 44-10 in the opening round of the playoffs, but the Cougars lost a starting middle linebacker to a knee injury. Running back Scott Fleming led the Cougars with 89 rushing yards and two touchdowns, but Centennial scored off its opportunistic defense. The Cougars picked up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown and also picked off Portland.