CONWAY — Sophomore Donte McElveen – in his first varsity game with West Florence – shined on Friday night.
McElveen scored on a fumble recovery, returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown, and blocked a punt that led to a score as the Knights bested Conway 41-19 in the Region VI-AAAA opener for each team.
“Unbelievable,” West Florence coach Trey Woodbury said. “Our JV team got whooped last night and we brought up a whole bunch of JV kids and he played unbelievable. I couldn’t have asked for a better performance from him.”
As for McElveen’s future with West Florence?
“I don’t think he’ll be going back down to JV,” Woodbury said.
Even McElveen is convinced his first performance in a varsity uniform will lock up a spot on the team’s roster.
“I did good. I came out and had to step up,” he said. “[Jamison Chapman] had to quit the team because he had to move and I stepped into the role. I [think I earned] a spot.”
Conway had won seven of its last eight meetings with West Florence, but had a tough time on Friday night. Halfback Jeffery Sherman rushed for 112 yards on 34 carries and quarterback Ethan Smith completed 10-of-18 passes for 197 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“I think they’re very well-coached and they’re young,” Woodbury said. “They get after it. Coach [Chuck Jordan] does a great job. They’re just young, but they’ll be fine. They played hard; they should be proud of their kids.”
On the Tigers’ final drive of the first half, Smith was nearly perfect as he completed five of six passes for 51 yards, but Conway couldn’t reach the end zone. Smith attempted a 40-yard pass to Bryan Edwards just shy of the end zone on third down, but Edwards couldn’t pull it in, forcing the Tigers to make a decision on fourth down. Conway decided to go for it, but turned the ball over.
On the ensuing drive, West Florence drove the ball and kicker Alex Spence nailed a 40-yard field goal to give the Knights a 24-7 advantage at halftime.
“Our kids played with intensity tonight,” Woodbury said. “Our kids came focused in practice all week and we’re getting better.”
Meanwhile, Woodbury has his sights set on securing a region championship.
“Hopefully we can win a region championship,” he said. “We’ll take it one game at a time and try to get better.”
WF - Marquane Goodman 6 run (Alex Spence kick good) 10:09
WF - Dustin Lee 48 pass from Goodman (Spence kick) 5:45
C - Ikeem Cole 65 pass from Ethan Smith (kick good) 5:25
WF - Donte McElveen 29 fumble recovery (Spence kick) 3:30
WF - Spence 40 FG 0:00
WF - Spence 47 FG 7:56
WF McElveen 60 INT RET (Spence kick) 7:10
WF - Matthew Thomas 20 block punt ret. (kick failed) 5:40
C - Trevor Fitch 2 run (kick failed) 2:20
C - Caleb Watts 42 run 0:00
RUSHING—Conway: Jeffery Sherman 34-112, Caleb Watts 6-72, Ethan Smith 3- -20.
PASSING—Conway: Ethan Smith 10-18-197, INT, TD
RECEIVING—Conway: Bryan Edwards 3-84, Ikeem Cole 3-71, Sherman 1-18, DeAndre Hickman 1-3, Marco Phifer 1-29.
Contact MAX MCKINNON at 626-0302.