Walker Valley's Zeke Westfield comes down with a jump ball for a touchdown during a 7-on-7 scrimmage against Cleveland Saturday afternoon at Lakeshore Park in Dalton, Ga. Westfield caught 17 touchdown passes over eight scrimmages between Friday and Saturday. (Banner Photo: Patrick MacCoon)
DALTON, Ga. — Preseason football scrimmages give coaches an opportunity to sort out position battles and gain steam for the regular season, while also giving fans glimpses of upcoming stars under the Friday night lights.
For Walker Valley’s Zeke Westfield and Cleveland’s Micaleous Elder, both put on a show in the Peach State at the Southeastern 7-on-7 tournament this weekend.
While the fourth or fifth receiving option for the Mustangs last season, the 6-foot-5 Westfield seems to have come into his full potential.
In the course of eight games the two-time all-state track athlete put his wheels, hops and hands on full display as he reeled in 17 touchdowns. He scored four touchdowns in each win against Murray County and Coahulla Creek.
“We expect big things from Kolten Gibson and Zeke Westfield through the air,” WVHS head coach Glen Ryan said. “Zeke is an exceptional guy, but we have to have three concerns at receiver because teams will be able to stop one if they really want to.”
Gibson threw for 27 touchdowns and four interceptions, as each scrimmage was 25 minutes long with a running clock until the final minute.
With a herd of colts making their first starts on the defensive side of the football, the Mustangs struggles primarily came on the defensive side.
Walker Valley finished the weekend 2-6 overall.
“We found some young guys that showed some promise, but we just have to get better on defense,” Coach Ryan said. “We lost all of our linebackers and secondary from last year. We have to find those guys to make it their spot and go out and take it.”
Meanwhile, Westfield was the only receiver with any varsity experience.
However, newcomers Luke Wallace and Brock Gibson combined for seven touchdowns over eight games.
Former lineman Sam Clements also caught two touchdowns in a single game and finished with three scores and double-digit catches.
“We have to get Luke and Brock into a more consistent flow, but they are making strong strides,” Ryan said. “Sam is at a new position too, but he’s a good enough athlete to handle it. We just need them to keep getting better and understand the scheme and how to box out.”
Three of Gibson’s turnovers came as a result of dropped passes. The reigning 4-5A region Player of the Year has 6,058 passing yards with 63 touchdown passes headed into his final prep season.
The Mustangs will hit the road for its last 7-on-7 contest at Bearden Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
“We get to put on the helmets and shoulder pads Monday at practice for the first time this summer,” Ryan said. “We have to really focus on fundamentals and for our players to make breaks on the football. We have to play forward and play aggresive.”
Micaleous Elder, the Blue Raiders jack-of-all-trades on offense displayed exactly how versatile he can be.
After averaging over 10 yards per carry last season in the backfield, CHS’ strongest pound-for-pound athlete reeled in 10 touchdowns.
A quick burst, which registered at 4.37 in the 40-yard dash at a recent University of Tennessee camp, and juke moves helped Elder run free over numerous opponents.
“We’ve got Micaleous at athlete so to speak,” CHS head coach Scott Cummings said. “He is a threat all over the field and really is going to be able to do a lot of things for us out of the backfield and as a slot receiver this season.”