Laney lost Friday night, but the result only reaffirmed coach Lemuel Lackey’s optimism.
Westminster-Atlanta won 15-12, but Laney put up 464 yards – 320 on the ground – and routinely marched into Westminster’s side of the field.
Youth and inexperience cost the Wildcats on some drives, including a fumble near the end zone, but Lackey thinks the game will only help as the season continues.
“It’s a good early-season test,” he said. “I still feel like we’re a quality ball club. We’re young, but you got to learn how to play the game with that pressure all the time.”
NEXT IN LINE: North Augusta fans got a good look at the future in Friday night’s 35-7 win over Greenbrier.
Sophomore backup quarterback Trib Reece was used under center every other series, splitting time with senior Cody Turner, while junior tailback Willie McCloud had to completely take over the rushing duties after senior DeVonte Pressley went down with an elbow injury early in the second half.
Head coach Dan Pippin said at the beginning of the season that he planned to work the sophomore quarterback into action – at least every third series – this year. That same approach worked for a young Loranzo Hammonds, who gained the necessary experience as a sophomore backup to eventually lead the area in passing by his senior year.
Reece saw action in every other series Friday night and threw a touchdown pass in the first half of the lopsided win.
STEPPING UP: Butler chewed up most of the time in the first quarter with a long opening drive. Then, after Westside quarterback Jalen Lampkin lost a fumble on the first play from scrimmage for the Patriots, the Bulldogs ate up another four minutes, going 22 yards in six plays for their only touchdown.
After allowing 65 yards in the first quarter, Westside’s defense allowed just 121 yards the final three quarters.
“They had a couple of big plays and we stepped up,” Patriots coach Steve Hibbitts said. “They’ve got great athletes. Sometimes they can out-jump us and out-run us, but we made some plays to get them off the field.”
Staff writers Billy Byler and Chris Gay contributed to this story.