WAP knows East Memorial game is big opportunity

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2005

Jerry Hinnen / Sports editor

Maybe the first two weeks of West Alabama Preparatory’s football season could have gone worse. But at a glance, it’s hard to see how.

WAP’s Titans have been blown out of both of their games, a 64-0 loss to rival Marengo and a 51-0 home defeat at the hands of Cornerstone. Adding injury to insult, the already-thin Titans lost junior lineman Joseph Luker and sophomore linebacker Weston Colgrove for the season with broken arms during the Cornerstone game. Team captain Bobby Anderson, a senior stalwart on the offensive line and at stalwart, will miss several weeks with a pulled groin.

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WAP interim head coach Marshall Murphy says that without the support of the WAP administration, he’d have a much, much harder time keeping his head up after the Titans’ rough start.

“Len Compton, our headmaster, and Mitchell Snipes, one of our board members, have supported me 110 percent. If they weren’t, I think I’d be going absolutely nuts,” he says. “But because they’ve given me their full support, I can go out and do what I can to the best of my ability. I’m trying my very best for these kids and to show them a positive outlook.”

He says that positive outlook has remained intact with the players despite the team’s current difficulties, despite, he admits, some of the team’s leaders “toning it down” since the beginning of the season. But he says new players have stepped up to keep the team looking forward, players like junior lineman Len Pope and senior lineman Scott Mitchell

“They’re refusing to let our morale die,” Murphy says.

But while the team deals with the emotional impact of the Titans’ first two games off the field, the WAP coaching staff is busy trying to take them into account on the field as well. The Titans have several changes in store for this Friday’s game against the East Memorial Christian Wildcats, starting with a greater emphasis on the wing-T offense rather than the I in an effort to juice up the Titan ground game. Sophomore Greg Yelverton will draw the starting assignment at tailback with rangy Gene Samuels moving, “for one game only,” Murphy says, to wide receiver. Stephen Cocreham and Wesley White will platoon at Yelverton’s vacated fullback spot.

“We’ve made a lot of adjustments,” Murphy says, but the biggest is at quarterback, where freshman Andrew Snipes will make his first start for the Titans, in relief of sophomore Mark Geiger. Murphy hopes Snipes’ quickness will make a difference.

“Mark is still our QB. Mark is a special kid, very talented, and an excellent leader for the offense,” Murphy says. “But we want to start out with a new look and see how Andrew suits up against a first-string defense…We want the defense to guess a little bit more. We’ll run more misdirection, more counters.”

Murphy acknowledges that there is some pressure on the team to make those adjustments work A.S.A.P., as East Memorial represents what would appear to be WAP’s best opportunity for a victory this season. The school has only been in existence for two years and lost their first two games, to Jackson Academy and Central Christian, by a combined score of 104-6

“The entire board, the entire school, the players and coaches, know that this is the weakest team on our schedule. However, everybody at East Memorial realizes that we’re probably the weakest team on their schedule,” Murphy says. “They’re going to come in and lay everything on the table to come out of here with a win. And we’re going to lay everything on the table to make sure that doesn’t happen…This is not going to be a 64-0 or 51-0 game. We’re going to hit the endzone. It’s going to be a fight and it’s going to be won in the trenches.”

Murphy (a UGA graduate and a longtime Georgia football fan) says that whatever happens, though, WAP can always continue to be proud of their program.

“I’m not here to be Vince Dooley or Ray Goff. I’m here to be a disciple of Jesus Christ on the football field and help these kids become young men. We’re doing that and I’m proud of that,” he says. “Seeing a guy like Andrew Thomas, who’s never played football before in his life, who’s having a great time and enjoying himself, that to me shows that we’re doing something here at WAP.