Georgetown football to rely on ground game, defense this season

For The Sun NewsAugust 14, 2013 

Georgetown Loris Football

Michael Billings (4) is expected to be the lead back in a ground-and-pound offense Georgetown is instituting this season.

FILE PHOTO BY CHARLES SLATE — cslate@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

  • The scoop

    Coach | Bradley Adams (18-14 in three seasons at Georgetown and overall)

    Last year | 6-5, 3-2 in Region VII-AAA, third place; lost in first round of Class AAA playoffs

    Returning starters | 4 offense/7 defense

    Strengths | In addition to discovering it has arguably its top running-back tandem in Adams’ four years, the team is basing much of what it does on its biggest strength – the defense. The Bulldogs are looking to draw time off the clock and play a physical brand of ball. It could produce some very close, low-scoring results.

    Weaknesses | Most of the players who had the biggest hand in bringing this program back to a respectable place are gone. The Bulldogs will have to replace the school’s all-time leading passer, as well as its top running back, top three receivers and two North-South All Star selections from the lines. And while there may be more skilled guys in the works, finding leaders isn’t always easy.

    Three players to watch

    Michael Billings, Jr., RB/DB | Speedy tailback moves to No. 1 on the depth chart after rushing for 496 yards and three touchdowns as a junior. Also can make catches out of the backfield.

    Jordan Ward, Sr., RB/LB | In addition to his rushing and return duties, Ward is also a top-flight defensive player. He racked up 137 tackles, including 12 for loss, as a junior.

    Jarvis Brown, So., QB | The Bulldogs won’t be slinging it around this year, but Brown’s mobility on the edge makes him a very dangerous player for the run-based offense.

  • 2013 schedule

    Date Opponent Time ’12 result
    Aug. 23vs. Conway7:30 p.m.L, 42-25
    Sept. 6at Andrews7:30 p.m.W, 44-0
    Sept. 13at James Island7:30 p.m.W, 14-8
    Sept. 20vs. Carvers Bay7:30 p.m.L, 20-14
    Sept. 27at Loris7:30 p.m.W, 24-14
    Oct. 4at St. James7:30 p.m.W, 35-20
    Oct. 11vs. North Myrtle Beach7:30 p.m.W, 34-7
    Oct. 18vs. Socastee7:30 p.m.L, 44-14
    Oct. 25at Myrtle Beach7:30 p.m.L, 18-0
    Nov. 1vs. Wilson7:30 p.m.W, 49-42

  • 2013 roster

    No. Name Pos Grade
    1Zaquan CollinsWR/DB11
    2Marquez DraytonWR/DB11
    3Jarvis BrownQB/DB10
    4Michael BillingsRB/DB11
    5Jordan ManigaultRB/DB10
    6Tony CortesN/A9
    7Jordan WardRB/LB12
    8Darrion GrahamWR/DL10
    9Xavier ThompsonWR/DB10
    10Daquan GibsonWR/DB12
    11Qwanta LivingstonN/AN/A
    12Davonte GriffinLBN/A
    14Tres JamesWR/DB12
    15Kris CrosbyWR/DB11
    16Caleb JusticeKN/A
    20Christian JohnsonWR/DB9
    21Javon LeakeH/LB11
    22DeShawn JohnsonRB/DL11
    23Gerald GermanH/LB11
    24Quemell BraveWR/DB11
    25Tripp CooperWR/DB10
    30Demario WalkerWR/DB10
    31Cody FloydH/LB12
    32Donte ConyersDB12
    35Tracy GrateLB9
    40Zaire BarronDL9
    42Shaquille BromellLB12
    44Sheldon BillingsH/LB9
    47Lorenzo DraytonN/AN/A
    50Justin ReedOL/DL10
    51Marcus DraytonOL/DL10
    55Jalil SmithOL/DL11
    56Comega MyersOL/DL11
    58Caleb JarrellOL/DL11
    60Luke EaddyOL11
    64Ryan WilliamsOL12
    65Jacob McDanielOL/LB11
    66Dalton EthridgeOL10
    70Davious GrantOL/DL12
    72Matthew AltmanOL10
    74Malik WalkerOL/DL10
    77Shawn KeithDL9
    78Nick CooperOL/DL12
    82Amaan FunnyeLB10

Say this for Georgetown football coach Bradley Adams: Guy is willing to adapt.

This time last year, the Bulldogs were prepared to help make quarterback Caleb Hughes the school’s all-time passing leader. He went out and threw for 1,600 yards – enough to push him into Georgetown’s record books again. He had a pair of big receivers to throw to, and he had options to pass out of the backfield.

This year couldn’t look much different.

Hughes and several of his favorite mates in the passing game are gone, and Adams has scrapped a large portion of his playbook to fit his new personnel.

“We’re not going to throw the football a lot,” Adams said. “We’ve got some horses in the backfield with Michael Billings and Jordan Ward. They’re the best two tailbacks I’ve coached at this level, and the best two I’ve had at Georgetown.”

Billings, a junior, ran for just under 500 yards a year ago while serving as Julian Lunsford’s backup. Ward, a senior, rushed for 74 in a role limited by his production on the defensive side of the ball.

If everything goes to play, expect both of their numbers to skyrocket this season. Combined with sophomore quarterback Jarvis Brown, a run-first signal-caller, Adams is going to a ground-and-pound approach.

It was something the coach saw coming during the offseason, and he and his strength team went to work. Billings has bulked up some to the 185-pound range to deal with the added number of carries he should receive.

“It puts a lot of pressure on us, I know that much,” Billing said of the new scheme. “We have to condition a lot. Coach told us four meals a day, five meals. At least a P, B and J before we go to bed. Lots of protein.”

The style, though, goes hand-in-hand with what should develop into the team’s most potent weapon – it’s defense.

The Bulldogs are bringing back seven of their starters on that side of the ball, including all of the linebackers and defensive backs. Ward is the centerpiece at middle linebacker. As a junior, he led the team in tackles (137). Teammates Gerald German (61 tackles, three fumble recoveries) and Cody Floyd – who missed seven games due to injury – are also back. The defense will have to replace its entire staring defensive line, including North-South All-Star selection Anthony Blair.

But Adams doesn’t believe that will derail his plans.

“The way we’re doing things, it’s not about size,” he said. “It’s about finding that guy who can run and use his speed and quickness. That’s what we’re geared more toward now.”

The newfound scheme could be one to help Georgetown’s upward climb in the region standings. The team finished fifth in 2010, Adams’ first season, before a fourth-place finish and a spot in the playoffs the following year. Last year, his team moved up one more rung to third, again earning a trip to the Class AAA postseason.

The Bulldogs know few outside their program believe they can continue that progress.

“We’re just so young. We have to start over,” Billings said. “We have to teach people the plays and the techniques. We’re coming in under the radar, people not expecting much from us this year. People doubt us.”

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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