The Gridiron Blog brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school football.
Player of the Week: Latney carried big load for Panthers
CONVERTED LINEMAN GAINED 227 YARDS IN HIS FIRST START IN BACKFIELD
BY ADAM HIMMELSBACH
Massaponax’s coaches knew last season that Javonte Latney was capable of being a dominant ball-carrier.
But the Panthers already had a deep stable of backs, led by Kris Hurt, so they mostly kept Latney focused on playing defensive line.
Now Massaponax is counting on Latney, a junior, to complement his defense with his offense. For one game, at least, he showed he was up to the challenge.
On Friday night, Latney rumbled for 227 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, leading Massaponax to a 26–15 win over Courtland.
“On one touchdown I remember breaking like three tackles,” Latney said. “All game I just kept moving my feet and following my blockers. I wasn’t going to let us lose our opening game on our home field.”
Latney saved his best work for the second half, when he ran for 136 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. His 10-yard score in the fourth quarter iced the win for the Panthers.
At halftime, Massaponax trailed Courtland, 15–13. By the time Latney stopped running, the two-point deficit had been transformed into an 11-point victory.
“I thought he was pretty good,” Massaponax assistant coach Nat Jackson said of Latney. “He ran really hard; he’s just got to learn to take care of the ball a little bit better.”
Latney had a pair of fumbles against Courtland, and the Panthers had four as a team. So at Monday afternoon’s practice, Massaponax put an emphasis on holding onto the football.
“As soon as I got there, I got the fumble straps and worked on keeping the ball high and tight,” Latney said.
Despite the fumble problems, Massaponax showed flashes of a running game that could be dominant this season. And for Latney, there is a sense that the best is yet to come.
“He can definitely get better,” Jackson said. “If you watch the film, you’ll see he missed a couple of reads and cutbacks here and there. Once he improves that stuff, the sky is the limit for that kid, as long as he keeps working.”
Massaponax (1–0) faces Chancellor this Friday night.
Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442