Bonanza’s Jayveon Taylor and Legacy’s Casey Hughes have had memorable duels on the track.
And Taylor believes they’re due for a similar fight on the gridiron when the Bengals (3-2, 0-1 Southwest League) travel to No. 5 Legacy (3-2, 0-1) at 7 tonight.
“It’s definitely going to be a battle on the football field this week between me and Casey,” said Taylor, who edged Hughes by two-hundredths of a second to win the state 100-meter dash title in the spring. “We’re brothers; we grew up together and everything and played on the same football team. But brotherhood is also a competition. We compete in everything we do.”
Hughes has had the more successful football season. He has rushed for 799 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 10.8 yards per carry. He’s also second on the team with 50 tackles, two behind linebacker Josh Phillips.
Taylor has averaged 4.6 yards per carry this season, with 157 yards on 34 carries. But the Bengals used him more at receiver last week against Centennial, and the senior responded with four catches for 110 yards.
“Early in the year we were trying to get Jayveon the ball in the backfield, we weren’t getting the blocking up front that we needed, and he wasn’t doing very well,” Bonanza coach Kevin Volcic said. “So last week, we split him out at receiver, and he had over 100 yards receiving. So maybe we found something.”
Taylor said he doesn’t care where he lines up. It’s all about getting him the ball with a chance to make a big play.
“I’m just dynamic,” Taylor said. “I can pretty much play everywhere. Coach uses me to his advantage, to put me in all these different mismatches and all these different places to get me the ball in open space.”
Quarterback Tyler Penkalski threw for a season-high 218 yards against Centennial, completing 13 of 23 passes. He hadn’t attempted more than 17 passes in any of the first four games.
“It was cool,” Penkalski said. “I liked it. We might still be doing that in a couple more games.”
While Taylor has had the advantage over Hughes on the track, Volcic isn’t sure his players can keep up with Legacy’s speedy team. DeMichael Walker has rushed for 439 yards and three touchdowns to give Legacy another big-play threat.
“They’ve got some speed at running back and receiver that we’ve got to keep up with,” Volcic said. “Football-speed-wise, they’ve got a little more than we’ve got. We’ve got a lot more track speed than we have football speed.”
Bonanza has been much better defensively this season after yielding 40 or more points six times last season. The Bengals have allowed an average of 19.8 points this season, and Taylor said that side of the ball has been the focus in preparing for Legacy.
“It’s just defense,” Taylor said. “That’s all we’re putting in our heads. We have to be sure tacklers this week. It’s defense, defense, defense. That’s the only way we’re going to win the game.”
And stopping Legacy will be about more than just keeping up with speedsters.
“They’re tough on film,” said Bonanza senior lineman Jordan Knapp, who recently committed to Weber State. “And when you’re watching a team on film and you can see they’re tough, you know they’re going to be tough in the game.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at (702) 387-5242 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.