Drew sophomore running back Quarderman Sloan will make his first varsity start tonight when the Titans take on rival Riverdale at Southern Crescent Stadium. (Special Photo: Jerry Jackson)
RIVERDALE — Riverdale coach Terry Herrod and his Drew counterpart Jarrett Laws may not agree on which team has the advantage coming into tonight’s game, but the two coaches will agree on the fact that this non-region game will be a “measuring stick” for both teams.
Riverdale is fresh off its 47-0 win over North Clayton coming into the 7:30 p.m. game at Southern Crescent Stadium. Drew was idle last week, and this will serve as its season-opener.
Because Riverdale played last week, and had a scrimmage against Carver of Atlanta the week before, Laws said his opponent has a big advantage.
“We do have some concern coming into the game because they have played a game,” Laws said. “They have had a game to iron out the wrinkles. We have a question mark with this team in who we are. We are a work in progress.”
For that reason, Laws said Riverdale will be a big test for his team. The Raiders are coming off a playoff appearance last season, and are considered one of the favorites in Region 4-AAAA this season under Herrod, who is in his first season at the helm.
“This is a real big measuring stick for us,” Laws said. “Riverdale is one of, if not the most, athletic teams in the county. They have some real good athletes.”
And Laws knows one of them from experience.
Last spring, Jordan Metts transferred to Riverdale after seeing a lot of playing time last season for the Titans. Metts rushed for 322 yards on 63 carries last season and four touchdowns for Drew, which didn’t make the Class AAAAA playoffs a year ago.
The senior running back said he has been looking forward to this game all summer.
“It is personal for me,” Metts said.”They have been ridiculing me. It is time to prove a point. It is very personal.”
But the Titans can’t be too consumed with Metts, because the Raiders have several other weapons on the offensive side. Last week, senior quarterback Greg Taylor accounted for four touchdowns in the Raiders win. He had two rushing and two passing scores in addition to passing for 220 yards on 12 of 13 passing.
Two of his primary receivers in the game were Jaylon Freeman, who had six catches for 115 yards and senior Trey Sanders, who had four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Top receiver Rashad Canty is expected to play this week after sitting out the North Clayton game with a sore shoulder. Canty has verbally committed to playing at Appalachian State next season.
Herrod is downplaying the fact that his squad has played the last two weeks.
“I don’t think its much of an advantage for us,” he said. “They (Drew) have an excellent coaching staff that has a lot of experience. I think its a game of two evenly matched teams, and I think the game will be decided on who makes the fewest mistakes. This is a rivalry game. It is one of those games that you will sit in the barber shop 10 years from now, and have some bragging rights.”
This will be the first start for Drew quarterback Brandon Pearson, who has been a backup the last two years to Jay Murray, who is now a freshman at Benedict College in South Carolina. Pearson is a tall, athletic player that saw some playing time last season.
He will have to contend with a defense that forced North Clayton into five turnovers. Riverdale defensive end Tykeem Bethea scored on a 53-yard fumble recovery.
Because of injuries in the offseason, Drew will be starting its fifth-straight new running back. Sophomore Quarderman Sloan will get the start after projected starter Marquis Terry sustained a wrist injury during preseason practice. After Metts transferred, Lester Knauls and Tracy Gaston sustained injuries.
Terry is expected back next week.
“I think we have coached him (Sloan) up well,” Laws said. “We are just going to throw all our young running backs in the pool and see if they can swim.”