Perception and reality can be two different things when it comes to the Westside football program.
With a perennially high-scoring offense, it’s easy to believe that the Seminoles might have a pass-first approach to their offense. After all, they have scored at least 30 points in 14 games in the past two seasons.
The statistics, however, don’t tell that tale.
“I’ve noticed the last couple of years how everybody says we’re kind of pass-first,” Westside head coach Sheddrick Risper said. “But we’ve been balanced the last two years. We’ve rushed for 2,000 yards and passed for 2,000 yards. The touchdown ratio for passing and rushing has been one off. Two years ago, we had 27 passing touchdowns and 26 rushing touchdowns. Last year we had 25 rushing touchdowns, 24 passing touchdowns. We’ve been pretty balanced.”
Still, a little more focus this season might be put on the ground game, where Westside returns an experienced tailback in Cedric Hollingshed.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior, who has committed to Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Southern, rushed for 952 yards and six touchdowns last season.
“Cedric is a guy who can slash when he runs,” Risper said. “He can outrun you. He can power you. He can catch it out of the backfield. He’s an all-around man.”
Westside, which only has one non-winning season in program history, sat at the .500 mark through six games last season, thanks to a challenging four-week stretch that included the Seminoles’ three strongest opponents of the season in Northside, Veterans and Mary Persons. But the Seminoles closed strong, winning their final four regular-season contests. A first-round playoff exit left Westside with a 7-4 record.
In three of those four games, Westside held its opponent to fewer than 10 points. The Seminoles then pulled away from Rutland, a team led by current Georgia receiver Shakenneth Williams, posting a 33-13 win in the regular-season finale following tight contests between those two teams in 2011 and 2012.
“They gave us a matchup,” Hollingshed said. “They try their best every year to give us a matchup. They came out and scored first, and everyone thought we were going to lose. But we maintained. We stayed focused and never gave up. We weren’t going to let one touchdown bring us down. We fought to the end.”
Westside has at least eight players returning on each side of the ball, with the defensive side retaining most of its key players from last season.
“We have a lot of those guys with a lot of experience,” Risper said. “The expectations are high. They are practicing where their expectations are.”
WESTSIDE IN 2014
Head coach: Sheddrick Risper (40-16 in five seasons overall and at Westside).
2013 record: 7-4.
2014 region: 2-AAA.
Returning starters: 6 on offense; 8 on defense.
Players to watch: Marquez Sanford (CB); Cedric Hollingshed (RB); Khayyan Edwards (DE); Gerimie Mitchell (RB); Tradonis Causey (MLB); Steve Dolphus (WR).
Sept. 29 vs. Rutland
Sept. 4 Harris County
Sept. 12 at West Laurens
Sept. 19 vs. Central
Sept. 25 Kendrick
Oct. 3 Jackson
Oct. 9 Jordan
Oct. 23 Spencer
Oct. 31 at Peach County
Nov. 6 vs. Southwest