Friday night’s highly anticipated game between Warren Easton and Landry-Walker at Behrman Stadium, which will also double as the District 9-4A championship game, will be sold by many as a classic matchup between an unstoppable offense and an immovable defense.
It’s hard not to see it that way.
Easton (7-1, 2-0) has scored at least 38 points in seven of its eight games this year, led by quarterback Deshawn Capers-Smith (126-for-201 2,469 yards and 31 touchdowns) and wide receiver Tyron Johnson (53 catches for 1,012 yards and 13 touchdowns).
While Landry-Walker (7-1, 2-0) counters with a defense, led by defensive back Michael Lee (two interceptions in last week’s victory over McDonogh 35) and outside linebacker Tirell Gilmore (five tackles for loss and three sacks in a victory over Belle Chase two weeks ago), that has allowed 20 or fewer points in six of its eight games.
Just don’t try to sell that narrative to anyone on the Charging Buccaneers offense.
“Our offense is going to show up,” said Landry-Walker receiver Carlius Joseph, who caught two touchdown passes against McDonogh 35 last week.
“We feel we have the No. 1 offense.”
Landry-Walker may not have one quarterback with the type of gaudy statistics that Capers-Smith boasts, but it says their two-headed attack can present problems for Easton in Friday night’s showdown and ultimately be the deciding factor in the showdown.
Senior Li’Jon Cordier has been a fixture at quarterback for Landry-Walker the past few years and provides the veteran savvy and reliable arm, while sophomore Keytaon Thompson adds the athleticism and playmaking ability that gives the Charging Bucs a balanced attack at quarterback.
“It works for us well because it forces defenses to prepare for two different quarterback, two different offenses,” Thompson said. “So if one of us isn’t playing as well, our team trusts that the other guy can come in and make the plays we need to win.”
Cordier added, “We bring two different things to the table: He’s more of a runner; I’m more of a passer. But as the season has gone on we’ve tried to be more diverse. When we play at the level we know we can play, we’re really hard to stop.”
Landry-Walker coach Emmanuel Powell said one of the major reasons he feels comfortable deploying his two-quarterback system is having a veteran presence like Cordier who can help Thompson along in his development and provides a much easier learning curve for Thompson.
“We have a guy with two or three years of experience like Li’Jon, and he can help Keytaon out, seeing that Keytaon only has been playing for one year,” Powell said.
“Li’Jon is a great leader for our offense, and he has helped everybody on that side of the ball this year.”
Thompson got an opportunity to gain some much-needed experience in a district game against McDonogh 35 last week. Cordier was dealing with a few nagging injuries, and Powell saw it as the perfect opportunity to give his sophomore quarterback the reigns of the offense and see how he responds.
The Charging Bucs offense got off to bit of a slow start, but Thompson found his groove in the second half, finishing with 20 carries for 120 yards and completing 12 of 21 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns on the way to a 23-13 victory.
“We were kind of looking ahead (to the Easton game), but we just had to re-focus at halftime,” Thompson said. “I think it helped me a lot to get that full game under my belt going into the game this Friday.”
Cordier said that he was “fine” and fully expects to play in Friday’s game.
While Thompson showed last week that he is capable of winning games without the assistance of Cordier, Landry-Walker understands that they will need the assistance of all their playmakers if they are going to pull out a victory over Easton.
A large number of those playmakers are cornerstones of a hard-hitting, dominant defense, but the Charging Bucs won’t hesitate to remind you that their offense packs a punch, as well.