Watkins Memorial secondary with chance to shine

Watkins Memorial secondary with chance to shine

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Watkins Memorial secondary with chance to shine

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The Watkins Memorial football team’s secondary has a high bar to clear.

The Warriors in 2013 started the season with a bang, returning a punt and two interception for touchdowns during the opening quarter against Briggs. This year’s group does not have to match those lofty standards, but the Warriors are champing at the bit to get their chance.

“We were waiting,” senior cornerback Taven Jenkins said. “We are prepared and all ready. It is our turn to shine. That defense last year definitely set it high for us, but we can match it. We can actually be better.”

Watkins visits Briggs at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the season opener. In the 2013 meeting, the Warriors took advantage of the Bruins’ struggling passing game, and that served as a springboard for the rest of the season as the Warriors’ senior-laden secondary picked off 12 passes.

That left many of this season’s seniors on the sidelines. Jenkins and classmate Cameron Smith will be expected to lead the way as juniors Cameron Johnson, Bobby Broomfield and Logan Morrison also have a chance to play a key role right off the bat.

“We felt like we probably could have done it,” Smith said. “Like (Severino) always says, ‘You are one play away from going in.’ I feel like we are all excited to play, and now is our chance.”

Briggs struggled to a 1-9 season in 2013, beating just winless Africentric. It was the Bruins’ second straight one-win season.

“We are very excited because we know we have a good secondary crew out here,” Jenkins said. “We just want to make plays and get the ball back to our offense.”

Helping out the secondary will be an experienced defensive line. Senior Nathan Miller and junior Zach Jenkins will be tough to block inside while juniors Rex and Alex Miles made an immediate impact on the ends when called into varsity action as sophomores.

“The quarterback has to get a little bit deeper. We might not put pressure on him, but we have guys with length that he has to throw that ball a little bit higher,” said Severino, of the Miles brothers, who each are 6-foot-3 or taller. “It gives our guys a chance to maybe get underneath it.”

The linebackers are fresh faces and include juniors Corey Hare and Terrial Hitchings. The Warriors play a 4-2-5 to match up with the several opponents that will use a spread offense.

That does not mean the secondary, however, will not be expected to pull its weight in run support. Smith and Broomfield each will essentially serve as extra linebackers.

We talked about them that our free and our will were our leading tacklers,” Severino said. “We expect them to come up and make hits, and those kids know that. If they can’t get the job done, we will put somebody else in to do it.”

The schedule should work in Watkins’ favor. East Elgin Secondary School (Canada) replaces Athens on the schedule in Week 2, so the Warriors will not face a team that had a winning record in 2013 until Newark Catholic visits for a special Thursday game in Week 5.

Following in succession are games against Granville and Licking Valley that could determine whether the Warriors can compete for a Licking County League-Big School Division title.

“We have to win the big ones,” Jenkins said. “We have a couple big games coming up, and that is when we will actually see where we are at.”

ksnyder@gannett.com

740-328-8556

Twitter: @newarkurt

If you go

What: Watkins Memorial vs. Briggs

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Briggs High School

Last year: Watkins Memorial intercepted four passes, returning two for scores, in a 62-0 victory in the season opener.

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