Tough as Taurienne
When Taurienne Freeman brings together the Westover football team, the senior linebacker breaks the huddle with four words.
"Always get it done," said Freeman, the Wolverines' top defender last season with 169 tackles, including 14 tackles for loss and two sacks.
The 6-2, 215-pounder returns as the top tackler in the 3-A classification. But his main focus lies in helping Westover become a championship contender in 2019.
“This year, I just want to make my team better," said Freeman, who was on a 4-7 squad that season in Ernest King's first year with the program. "I’m not really stat chasing. I just want to make my team better and the stats will come second.”
About the Wolverines ...
Top returners: Keyshown Lindsey, RB, Sr.; Taurienne Freeman, LB, Sr.; Zavion Whitehead, WR, Sr.; Demareon James, OL/DL, Sr.; Nahala Moore, OL, Jr.; Brandon Handy, DB, Sr.; Devon Marshall, WR, Sr.
Potential breakout players: Remington Workman, OL/DL, So.; Joshua Jones, QB, Fr.; Tayvon Greene, DB, Sr.
Coach's outlook: "We tell our guys we should compete for a conference championship this year. There’s no doubt. We have a lot of talent coming back and we want to make sure that our kids believe that we’re supposed to be there. … We have to come together as a team and as a unit.''
910Preps.com evaluation: Toughness is the theme for the Wolverines in 2019. As Westover heads into its second season under Ernest King, the group will aim to forget about the program's losing record in eight of the last nine seasons. With a solid core of returners, including running back Keyshown Lindsey and linebacker Taurienne Freeman, Westover has a chance to take the biggest step forward in the Patriot 4-A/3-A Conference. The bad news is that the offense will have to replace dual-threat quarterback Xavier Marsh, who accounted for 31 touchdowns last season. Freshman Joshua Jones will get his chance to lead an offensive unit that has a slew of weapons and depth in the trenches. The talent is there on both sides of the ball. If the Wolverines can put it together, watch out.
Conference: Patriot (3-A)
Coach: Ernest King
2018 record: 4-7, 2-6
5-year record: 21-47, 11-29
All games at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 23 — at Seventy-First
Aug. 30 — Open
Sept. 6 — Hoke County
Sept. 13 — Douglas Byrd
Sept. 20 — Goldsboro
Sept. 27 — at South View
Oct. 4 — Pine Forest
Oct. 11 — at E.E. Smith
Oct. 18 — Cape Fear
Oct. 25 — at Terry Sanford
Nov. 1 — Overhills
Nov. 8 — at Gray's Creek
FANTASY DRAFT PICK
Keyshown Lindsey, the team’s veteran workhorse at running back, will lead the charge for the Wolverines. As a junior, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder produced 891 yards and seven touchdowns on 133 carries. He's expected to be one of the top running backs in the state this season. Coach Ernest King said Lindsey has "gotten stronger" as he continues to garner interest from Division I programs. With a solid group of linemen paving the way, Lindsey is in position to have a monster year.
With athletes on both sides of the ball at his disposal, King made it clear that he wants his team to "play fast" and to be a force in taking the will of opposing teams. Westover's 51-20 loss at Douglas Byrd served as motivation for King, who said the Eagles "were just more physical than we were.
"We want to play fast on both sides and be physical," he said. "The biggest thing is we have a lot of weapons this year. We want to take advantage of each one of them. But we’re always going to go back to being tough and physical.”
The Wolverines lost five games by an average of 25 points last season. With many of the same faces returning, King has noticed a different, "tougher" mentality from his guys throughout the offseason. He expects that to show once Westover gets between the lines on Friday nights.
“Our guys have bought into getting bigger, stronger and faster," King said. "But the mental toughness, we try to make practice tougher. We’re on them a lot tougher. It's being able to turn around and deal with adversity because we’re gonna have it. Are we mentally tough enough to turn around and deal with it? Always have the mentality that we're always in a game and can win it."
When it comes to the history of Westover football and players that made it to the college level, a few names come to mind. King (Arkansas Tech) and offensive coordinator Jermaine Bryant (Fayetteville State) are among them, as are Christian Russell (Mississippi), Tommy Dorsey (N.C. Central) and Kevin Houston (N.C. Central). Each name helps to raise the level of motivation for the current group of Wolverines.
“It’s a lot of guys that we could name," King said. "It is a tradition here, but when it’s all said and done, we tell our guys that if they’re not making it academically, they’re not going to make it out. ... But Westover football is up and coming.”
2018 IN REVIEW
Aug. 17 — L, Seventy-First, 39-18
Aug. 24 — W, at Lumberton, 26-25
Aug. 31 — W, at Hoke County, 18-10
Sept. 25 — L, South View, 62-22
Sept. 29 — L, at Pine Forest, 23-18
Oct. 5 — L, at Cape Fear, 25-20
Oct. 12 — L, Terry Sanford, 34-19
Oct. 19 — W, at Overhills, 46-41
Oct. 25 — L, Gray's Creek, 44-26
Nov. 2 — L, at Douglas Byrd, 51-20
Nov. 9 — W, E.E. Smith, 70-20