The Westside Seminoles watched as Jaden Williams sprinted up the sideline on the opening kickoff of their Saturday game to put rival Southwest Patriots on top early.
The Seminoles took the following kickoff in Southwest territory and looked to be on the verge of answering the Patriots 8-0 start in the Macon Touchdown Club Middle Georgia Kickoff Classic..
Then lightning moved into the area and forced the two teams off the field for nearly four hours.
But even the lightning couldn’t stop the high-flying Seminole offense as they knocked off their rivals 34-16.
“We went inside from the delay, we stayed focused and they came out hungry to play,” head coach Sheddrick “Spoon” Risper said. “We just played Westside style of football in the second half and our kids responded. We never feel that we are out of a game.”
A big reason for the outcome was senior wide receiver and Pittsburgh commit Jaylon Barden.
Westside pulled away on a 40-yard touchdown from quarterback Victor Dixon Jr. to Barden at the start of the third quarter to put the Seminoles up 21-8.
“It is good to see Jaylon getting into a groove,” Risper said. “As a coach you have to get the ball in your playmaker’s hands.”
Barden would also catch the game-sealing score for the Seminoles as he cut inside just as Dixon released the ball. The pair were in sync all night.
“Me and Vic, we have been together since middle school so our chemistry is like 110 (percent),” Barden said.
The senior said a big part of what makes the Westside team so dangerous is the abundance of playmaking wide receivers, including Jehlen “Hollywood” Cannady.
“It takes pressure off of me too, because if they are playing him in a double coverage then I can get open,” he said. “I am blessed to have Hollywood on my team.”
Risper said getting the opening victory sets the tone for the rest of the season as the team looks to get over the hump after failing to make the title game last season. Barden will be a big part of his team’s success as the season progress.
Barden has already set goals of over 1,000 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns this season. Risper said he just wants Barden and the seniors to have a special final season at Westside.
“I am going to enjoy this senior year with him,” Risper said. “In our program freshman normally don’t play and he did. He has learned so much about the art of being a receiver.”