G.W. Carver is jumping in to the season with both feet.
While some schools like to have an easier opponent to work out the kinks in the first game of the year, the Wolverines like to start the year with a bang by hosting rival Prattville at 7 p.m. today at Cramton Bowl.
“It kind of gets you ready for playoff football,” Wolverines coach Billy Gresham said. “Right now, where our program is, every year we want to compete for a state championship and make a deep run in the playoffs. And you don’t get any better playing teams you can roll over in Week 1. So we want to kick off our season playing a tough opponent, which is a huge rivalry for us. Our fans don’t like Prattville, and Prattville fans don’t like Carver, so it’s a great kind of grudge match.”
The Wolverines, who went 12-2 with a Class 6A state semifinal appearance last season, lost a slew of playmakers from 2012. Their most notable loss being last year’s Mr. Football Jeremy Johnson.
But as the No. 10 Wolverines take the field tonight, they’re confident in their new signal caller, 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior Draequon Murphy.
“It’s an unfair comparison because they’re two totally different players,” Gresham said. “Murphy is a real good player, and it’s not fair to him to make those comparisons. We talked to him about it, we’re not asking him to be Jeremy Johnson, he has to be Draequon Murphy. What kind of things do you do well and what kind of intangibles do you bring to the game? That’s what we’re asking of him.”
Gresham said Murphy, a former receiver who caught for more than 900 yards last season, brings more of a running dimension to the quarterback position. Expect to see more designed quarterback runs and read option plays.
Despite losing offensive coordinator Lee Carter, who is now the head coach at Jeff Davis, Gresham said there won’t be too many changes on offense. He’s sticking with the — “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — mentality.
On defense, Carver will have their hands full with Prattville running back Kamryn Pettway, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound Auburn commit.
“Last year, even though we kind of ran away with the game, Pettway had 12 carries for 179 yards,” Gresham said. “That’s been our challenge all summer and fall camp. We had a guy that lined up as Pettway all week, and our job was to make sure we could tackle him and make sure we don’t repeat that performance that he had last year.”