PATASKALA – Westley Brandon moved to center stage for Watkins Memorial this past Friday as the Warriors shrugged off a slow start and rolled to a 52-13 win against Whetstone.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior completed 17-of-23 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns in just his second varsity start. This was the moment Brandon had been training for.
“I put everything I had into this offseason,” Brandon said. “Knowing I wasn’t the starter last year, I wanted to show everybody I could do it. I kept that in the back of my mind the whole time. I felt like this was my opportunity, so I put in a lot of work.”
Last season, Brandon was 15-of-34 for 182 yards with three touchdowns and one interception as Mike Ford’s backup. His start came in a 40-30 loss to Granville.
Because he did not have an abundance of game film, Brandon and his dad, Jeff, hit the college camp trail to show coaches what he was capable of. He has been invited to attend a game at Indiana. Other schools that have been in touch include Northern Illinois, Akron, San Diego State, Marshall, UMass and UConn.
“I improved my footwork a lot,” Brandon said. “I lowered my 40-yard time and increased my speed and strength. My arm strength improved a lot. I worked a lot watching film and breaking down defenses.”
Even though he traveled quite a bit, Brandon also was a leader in the Watkins weight room.
“He took that job,” coach Jeff Severino said. “We told him, ‘It’s your job to lose.’ He’s been doing the right stuff. The kids believe in him, and that’s the main thing.”
Severino was pleased with how Brandon played against Whetstone. The Warriors pulled away with 21 second-quarter points.
Brandon spread the ball around to Rex Miles (six catches, one TD), Garth Medors (five catches, one TD) and Alex Miles (three catches) against Whetsone.
“One thing we talked about was how he throwing the ball off his back foot,” Severino said. “Once he started following through, I think he was in pretty good shape. He throws a nice ball. It can be a long way on some of the out routes to the Miles boys. It’s across the field, and he gets it there.”
Brandon takes his role as a leader on and off the field seriously.
“All I do is put the ball in their hands, and they make me look good,” he said. “I feel like as a quarterback and a team captain it is my duty — not just my job but my duty — to keep the team in line and keep their heads on straight and keep everybody going in the right direction.”
Aug. 28: Watkins 52, Whetstone 13
Sept. 4: East Elgin (Canada), 7 p.m.
Sept. 11: @Mifflin, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 18: @Johnstown, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25: Utica, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2: @Licking Heights, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9: Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: @Granville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22: Licking Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 31: @Newark Catholic, 7 p.m.