Prep football: Balanced Bison has Calhoun next
BUFFALO, W.Va. - This season, Buffalo quarterback Levi Jordan continues to sling the ball with similar frequency and success as years past, but this time he's doing it with a balanced and emerging cast.
The supporting group of Laythen Good, Garison Erwin, Gabe Garrison, Isaiah Robinson and others has spread the responsibility after replacing graduated players Jarrett Smith and Alex Ferrari.
Smith, a Class A All-State first-team selection, and Ferrari combined for 73 catches and 17 touchdowns in 2011. This year, numbers are more balanced as a new corps of receivers work into starting roles.
"Last year, the kids that are playing now didn't play because they had some guys in front of them, but I knew they could step up and do the job, and they've done that," said Buffalo Coach Mike Sawyer, whose Bison visit Calhoun County (2-5) on Friday.
"We had some good receivers coming back, we knew that, and I was hoping they would step forward to make up for the guys we lost, and they've done that so far."
Junior running back Laythen Good, who also plays the slot receiver position, leads the Bison in catches (14) and receiving yards (390) through six games. Good is also tied for the team-lead in receiving touchdowns (4) with senior Gabe Garrison.
Behind Good, Erwin ranks second on the team in catches with 12 receptions and 227 receiving yards. Garrison has collected eight catches for 202 yards.
Good, as the team's leading receiver and rusher, assumes a fair share of attention from opposing defenses, as he did in Buffalo's 23-21 victory over Wirt County last Friday. Good battled through injury and swarming tacklers to finish with 26 rushing yards on 13 carries.
In such cases, the team's emerging balance pays dividends.
"That's what makes them a good team," Wirt County Coach Jason Hickman said. "We took some things away. We said that (Good's) not going to beat us tonight, but they've got other weapons."
That's where Isaiah Robinson contributed. Outside Buffalo's top-three ranking receivers, Robinson stepped forward to lead the Bison (5-1) with three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Robinson scored the game's first points on a 21-yard pass play to cap Buffalo's opening drive.
"I scrambled out right and I happened to see his arms waving, so I just heaved it down there and he made a good catch," Jordan said.
It doesn't matter whom Jordan targets, Robinson said, because each of the receivers possess the skills to succeed.
"Everybody's got a good relationship with everybody really," Robinson said. "He can throw it to just about everybody. We can all catch the ball."
The receivers have leaned on each other as they work to replace the production of Smith and Ferrari, Robinson said.
"Everybody's got real big shoes to fill," he said. "Jarrett's real fast and Alex was a real big target about 6-1, 6-2, so big shoes to fill really. We kind of tried to replicate what they do, but you can't get an exact Jarrett Smith or an exact Alex Ferrari.
"We've got Garrison and Gabe who are real tall receivers, so (Jordan) can throw up top to them. I'm a short, fast receiver, so I'm able to get by defenders, so it all works out, and even our running backs are able to get by people."
It certainly doesn't hurt to have someone with Jordan's ability throwing the passes to those receivers either.
"Levi just wants to win," Sawyer said. "He doesn't care about the numbers. He just wants to win football games and he'll do whatever it takes. It's good he can get out of the pocket and keep the play going and kids get open. We got three or four good receivers, so we got a lot of options to go to."
The sheer eye-popping numbers and all-state selections might not be there, but the talent remains at the wide receiver position for Buffalo.
"When it's time to step up, our players step up for us," Jordan said.