Watson Chapel has relied on its defense to set the tone for their offense all year. The Wildcats (5-3, 5-1) offense has kept the tone going by making a midseason adjustment when they converted senior Devonte Battles from running back to quarterback.
It’s a move that Watson Chapel George Shelton acknowledges as a successful utilization.
“Even though he’s (Battles) at quarterback now he’s still a player that you have to take into account for in a defensive game plan,” Shelton said.
And ever since Battles has taken over the reigns at the quarterback position, he has still used his skill set to pull out victories for Watson Chapel. He scored four touchdowns in Week 8 against Magnolia and ran for more than 100 yards and two scores in last week’s 47-6 win at Hot Springs Lakeside.
“It caught our opponent off guard because they had no knowledge of him playing the position,” Shelton said. “The next game we came into a little trouble, because they were knowledgeable about his play but he was still able to lead the offense down the field and score.”
Now Battles will have the task of leading his team over defending 5A state champion Camden Fairview. The Cardinals (8-1, 5-1) went undefeated a year ago and were on the verge of repeating the same feat until they suffered a loss to Hope on the road two weeks ago, 17-12.
The 5A-South conference title will be on the line when Camden Fairview and Watson Chapel meet at 7 p.m. Friday night at Wildcat Stadium. The winner will finish no worse than tied for first place with Hope. Even with a Hope win over Magnolia, a Watson Chapel victory would earn the Wildcats a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs, thanks to their 19-17 win over the Bobcats on Oct. 11.
With Watson Chapel’s defense setting the tone all year, leading tackler and senior linebacker Josh Harris and company will be matched up against Camden Fairview’s senior quarterback Matthew Ollison. Ollison has accounted for over 2,000 yards this season and 21 touchdowns.
The Cardinals’ head coach Buck James has stated that the Wildcats “have us out-manned at every position,” but Shelton disagrees.
“They are the defending state champions and they have made multiple trips to the championship game,” Shelton said of the Cardinals. “They have experience in big games and they are athletic.
“Where is it that we have the advantage?”
Camden Fairview’s athleticism can be seen in the play of senior Deion Holliman. Holliman’s versatility has allowed him to rush for 289 yards and six touchdowns, and catch 33 passes for 762 yards and 10 touchdowns, so far this season.
For this Hootens.com Game of the Week, it will be a matchup of the athleticism from both teams recognized by both coaches. However, it will be a test of who wins the battle at the line of scrimmage, according to Shelton.
“We need to make sure we don’t make any alignment errors,” he said. “We have to make sure that we line up correctly.
“They have athletes that can get to the point of attack.”