Thursday, December 6, 2012

Worley hitting his stride


For Coatesville running back Daquan Worley, hesitation is not really an option.
As the key piece to the Red Raiders’ zone-run scheme, Worley knows two things coming out of the huddle: whether or not he’s getting the ball, and what direction he’s heading. The rest is pretty much up to him.
With no clear hole defined in the zone-scheme, Worley’s job is to recognize defenses and the flow of the line, cut, and accelerate through a seam or around the corner. Early on this season, the junior running back found out that task was easier said than done.
“The first part of the season was kind of hard to know where I wanted to run,” Worley said. “Now I run behind my line, and they make holes for me and I see it and just hit it.”
As a sophomore, Worley watched Dae-Hon Cheung run the zone almost to perfection, springing him to the Ches-Mont rushing title. With only 39 carries, most in mop-up time, Worley came into this fall with limited exposure to how it actually looks to recognize a “hole” and commit to it fast enough to be productive.
The result was a wobbly running game and a 2-2 start in which Worley had just 164 yards on 39 carries, and no touchdowns.
Slowly but surely, Worley began to get it it. He ran for 62 yards in week five, then 93 and finally 103 against West Chester East in week seven. In five of the last six weeks Worley has cracked the century mark, starting with his breakout 203-yard performance against Downingtown West. In the postseason alone he has 660 yards on 73 carries and nine TDs.
“Daquan is one of our leaders on the football team, as a junior,” Coatesville coach Matt Ortega said. “He’s a rah-rah kid and has a great work ethic. For the most part, we feed off of him. He gets our team going and every week he gets better and that’s a testament to how hard he works.”
Coatesville started the season trying to be a power run team and eventually transformed into a spread passing team when the run didn’t take off. Since Worley has developed into what Cheung was a year ago, the Red Raiders have now become dangerously balanced. And don’t think the run has taken away some of their explosiveness.
On the first drive of the second half, up 35-21 over Spring-Ford, Worley took a handoff on the second play, and when nothing was there off tackle he quickly darted outside, got the edge and sprinted 51 yards for a backbreaking touchdown. He finished with 180 yards and two TDs.
“The beginning of the year he wasn’t as natural at it,” said of Ortega of Worley running the zone. “Cheung was a natural inside zone runner, but Worley kept working on it and he’s become very comfortable with the scheme and the reads. The one thing I like about him is, backs in the past went for the home run ball more, but Daquan is patient and takes the three, four, five-yard runs.”
Worley is not a one-trick pony, however. He also has a kick return TD to his name, as well as two interception returns for scores from his spot at cornerback. As good as he’s been on offense of late, the defensive side is arguably more vital against La Salle.
“He has to carry the load and run the ball,” Ortega said. “And he has to cover their best kid.”
Sean Coleman presents, quite possibly, the toughest matchup for Coatesville all season. The senior wide receiver who’s heading to Harvard next year as a top lacrosse recruit has tortured defenses in big games this season. Three weeks ago in the District 12 championship against St. Joseph’s Prep, Coleman had 14 catches for 138 yards and all four TDs for a one-point overtime revenge win.
“I’m very excited,” Worley said. “(Coleman’s) a real good player. I’m ready to go at it. It’s just two really good athletes.”
Coatesville plays five kids both ways, and the subs are often starters on the other side of the ball. La Salle plays a good chunk of its kids both ways, as well. While a few teams around the county try to “platoon” offenses and defenses, sometimes that backfires with your best kids on the sidelines. Sometimes it’s just a matter of depth, too.
“Our coaches go back and forth on it,” Ortega said. “We tried to platoon and thought we’d have enough kids to do it. We try to play the least amount of guys, but sometimes the best kid isn’t on the field. Those six games (from week five to week 10) our starters didn’t play past the first half and I really think that helped us, having some two-way guys.”
Fourteen games later, it’s the defenses that suffer if they hesitate against Worley. It’s been one cut and go since week five, and what Coatesville has now is best summed up by La Salle coach Drew Gordon.
“You can’t have six guys rushing the passer because they run that zone read so well,” Gordon said. “(Worley) can go 80 yards on you, too.”

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