[Nameplate] Partly Cloudy ~ 91°F  
Feels like: 102°F
Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Charleston Bluejays vs. NMCC Eagles

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Remond Willis

NEW MADRID - The New Madrid County Central football team has figured out how to win.

Quite simply, give the ball to Remond Willis.

At 7:30 on Friday night at NMCC High School, the Charleston Bluejays will try to do what few other teams have done this season -- stop Willis.

NMCC has produced several quality running backs over the years, but probably none of them carry as much value to his team as Willis.

Trentez Lane
"He's been a great leader for us," said NMCC head coach Steve Rogers. "Obviously he's the hub of our offense. He's had the hot-hand the last few weeks and we've been giving him the football."

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound University of Illinois recruit has rushed for 644 yards with six touchdowns this year.

The rest of the NMCC lineup has combined to rush for 29 yards with no touchdowns.

And he doesn't appear to be slowing down.

With each passing week, he improves in every statistical category, getting more and more comfortable with his role as the starting tailback after being moved from quarterback late last season.

In last week's win against Farmington, he rushed for a career-high 323 yards with four touchdowns.

It ranks as one of the top individual performances in school history, falling just 10 yards shy of Kelvin Anderson's single-game record of 333 set in 1989.

Charleston head coach Brent Anderson knows the only way his team will stop him is to gang tackle.

"You just try to get a lot of hats to the football," said Anderson. "If he's in your secondary one-on-one then you're going to lose those battles. He's a talented, talented player. I think we're going to face two of the best running backs in the state two weeks in a row."

In last week's loss to Caruthersville, Charleston allowed Jimmy Jackson to have a big game with 291 yards and three touchdowns.

But Jackson is more of a make-you-miss runner, whereas Willis would prefer to run between the tackles.

It's something Anderson attributes to the NMCC offensive line.

"As good as (Willis) is, a lot of it is what they're doing up front," said Anderson. "They're giving him some holes to run through."

At 2-1, the Eagles already have equaled last season's win total, including a 26-20 overtime victory against top-ranked Cape Central in Week 2.

NMCC quarterback Darrel Newsom has been effective in his two games as the starter. He has thrown for 226 yards, completing 12-of-25 with three touchdowns.

Edgar Givens is his top target, hauling in eight passes for 128 yards with two scores.

"As soon as you load the box up with the run, they've got two kids that are all-state caliber out at wide receiver," said Anderson. "And they've got a quarterback now that can get it to them."

Charleston on the other hand, has lost two straight and are looking for improvement offensively.

With most of the offensive line returning from last year, the Bluejays expected to dominate the trenches.

So far it hasn't happened.

"We've haven't controlled the line of scrimmage yet this year," said Anderson. "What we thought was going to be a strength this year, has been a weakness for us."

Plus the Bluejays are in the process of finding a replacement for 2,000-yard rusher Orrice Stanback.

The top performer so far has been a freshman, Joseph Watts, who has 117 yards on 32 carries in two games as the starter.

"He really supplies you with a burst of speed," said Anderson. "He's really quick to the hole. And as little as he is, he's tough to tackle. He's really stepped to the forefront."

Fullback Trentez Lane has 100 yards on 24 carries.

However, the Bluejays have been effective throwing the football with A.H. Marshall completing 24-of-49 passes for 295 yards. He only has one interception and two touchdowns.

Tight end Ashton Farmer has caught 13 passes for 181 yards to lead the team.

"They look like a typical Charleston team," said Rogers. "They have good speed in the backfield. The Marshall kid's throwing the ball pretty good. They're throwing it more than they usually do."

While NMCC has controlled the series, winning five of the last six, the Bluejays did defeat the Eagles last season.

"Payback or revenge is not really what's on our mind," said Rogers. "They beat us at their place last year, so we know if we don't bring our 'A' game then they're very capable of beating us again."