2 units equal better opportunity

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Titans balance the work and build for the future

By Josh Cook

One of the most telling numbers of last year’s Class AAAA state football final between Collins and Highlands may not have been the final score (Bluebirds 47, Titans 0).

It just may have been the number of two-way starters for both teams. Collins had six, Highlands none.

Titans Coach Jerry Lucas said he knew that if he wanted to compete at the same level as 22-time state champion Highlands he had to have depth, a point that was driven home in Collins’ season-opening loss to 6A Simon Kenton. In that game the Titans led almost the whole way before the Pioneers rallied for a 23-21 victory.

It was after that loss that Lucas implemented a platoon system, which he initially had thought about instituting at midseason. Since then 2-way starters would have gone the way of the cassette player at Collins.

The Titans started 21 different players in their second game, a 41-14 victory at 5A South Oldham, then had 22 in their third game, a 24-19 victory over 6A Ballard.

“Number one, it sure does make us more explosive, and it allows us to play a lot of people,” Lucas said. “We’ve built depth for the future and for the rest of the season.”

Seniors Dre Farris, Landon Forrest, Nathan Sames and Zach “Buck” Wilson, who last year started on both sides of the ball, are now one-way starters (the other two from last year, Blake Ellis and Logan Bailey, graduated). Farris (running back or wide receiver), Forrest (wide receiver) and Sames (wide receiver) all start on offense, and Wilson (defensive end) starts on the opposite side of the ball.

All four still see some snaps on the other unit, though. Others who also start on one platoon but see time on the other include Kris Jones, Masai Whyte, Mark Bradford, Quintin “Pookie” Murphy and Jordan Parker. 

Meanwhile the platoon move also has given some underclassmen more playing opportunities. Among the first-year starters this season are sophomores Kolton Alvey and Kyle Goss on the offensive line, sophomore Leland Cardwell on the defensive line and Murphy at free safety, as well as juniors Wyatt Williamson (defensive line), Gabe Nash and Michael Nash (linebackers).

“I don’t know that any of those are kids who wouldn’t have been playing any way,” Lucas said. “Next year [though] we’ll have a lot of kids who have been there and done that.”