Preps: Ensworth proves equally adept in passing and running

Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 9:26pm

As holiday season approaches, one is mindful that is it better to give than to receive — unless one takes into account recent events for Ensworth High’s football team.

Inasmuch as junior quarterback Andrew Bowers has become an accomplished passer, even surprising himself, he knows how much his receivers like to receive.

The defending state champion Tigers (8-1) have planted plenty of Corn in the running game, thanks primarily to Mr. Football candidate tailback Corn Elder. But Bowers’ passing and decision-making have made the offense one of the most formidable attacks anywhere in Nashville.

Bowers, son of head coach Ricky Bowers, was an efficient 7-of-18 for 184 yards, no interceptions and three touchdowns — two of them to Elder and another to dependable split end Cory Batey in a surprisingly one-sided 37-17 Division II win last Friday at Brentwood Academy (7-2), which snapped the Eagles seven-game winning streak.

Bowers’ stats Friday lifted his numbers for the season to 1,305 yards on 66-115 (57.4 percent) and 18 touchdowns.

Asked if he was surprised he has become a 1,000-yard passer, Bowers said, “Truthfully, I am. I really didn’t expect this kind of success. I am very fortunate to have the receivers that I do, guys like Corn who can turn a little bubble screen into a big play, guys like Cory, who make great catches and make me look good.

“Offensive coordinator Paul Wade put in some plays this week to get the ball to Corn into more open space where he would have more running room, and it really worked well.”

Elder has “best game’

Centerpiece for the massive offensive show is Elder, whose entry into any open space usually results in a long touchdown. He racked up 405 yards rushing and receiving, which, amazingly, was nearly all of Ensworth’s 456 yards total offense.

Given his 249 yards rushing and two touchdowns, along with five catches for 156 yards and two more touchdowns (of 61 and 63 yards), Elder was asked if it was his best game of the season.

“Yes, I think it was, both running and receiving,” he said. “Andrew did a great job of delivering the ball, and our defense was outstanding.”

Elder has rushed for 1,458 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season.

“After that first series (when BA drove down to the Tiger three and kicked a field goal for a 3-0 lead), we got settled in and got better and better as the game went along,” Elder said. “Our defense was outstanding. They kept making big plays.

“I just hope we keep improving each week so we can go into the playoffs with a lot of momentum.”

Ensworth put the icing on the cake when Batey, a senior, made a leaping catch on a 12-yard fade pass from Bowers in the left end zone with 3:18 left.

“Our offense has really come on, but it was our defense which really came through [against BA],” said Batey, a Vanderbilt commitment. “A newspaper article picked BA to beat us, and that got us even more motivated. We’re really playing well, and we need to keep the momentum going into the playoffs.”

Is Elder the best at Ensworth?

Arguments can be made about the best back ever at Ensworth. Elder, a junior, is certainly in the conversation along with previous stars Tavarres Jefferson (who went to MTSU) then Orleans Darkwa (a sophomore at Tulane).

“I know for sure he’s the fastest,” Rickey Bowers said.

What’s even more scary is that he’s just a junior.

An Ensworth win next week at Father Ryan would leave the Tigers in no worse than a three-way tie with Brentwood Academy and Baylor (if all three win) with 6-1 records as they jostle for playoff positioning. The three teams are all 1-1 against each other.

BA hosts McCallie (coach Ralph Potter’s old school) Friday for Eagle homecoming, and Baylor hosts BGA.

After tiebreakers, that would leave Baylor, Ensworth and BA seeded 1-2-3 entering the DII-AA playoffs, the way Bowers sees it (with Baylor and Ensworth getting the first round byes Nov. 4).

“We better worry about playing Ryan first,” Bowers said.

State Volleyball: Defending state champions Ensworth (DII-AA) and Ravenwood (AAA) carry the area banners of Nashville area teams in the state volleyball tournament, which begins a three-day run Wednesday at Murfreesboro.

Also, Independence (Class AAA) and Goodpasture (Class AA) are in action. St. Cecilia (16-4) and Davidson Academy (26-10) have reached the DII-A Final Four. Goodpasture (43-2) has one of its best teams in school history.

Championship matches are Friday at MTSU.

Region soccer: District champ Hume-Fogg will host Harpeth, and CPA will visit White House in the Region 5-A/AA semifinals Tuesday night. In Region 6-AAA, McGavock visits Franklin, and Antioch hosts Ravenwood Tuesday.

Region finals are Thursday, and Sectionals are Saturday.

Cross Country: MBA, Ryan and Ensworth (boys) and Harpeth Hall, St. Cecilia and Ryan (girls) ran to1-2-3 finishes in last week’s team competition in the Metro Nashville cross country championships.

Daniel Peters (MBA) and Barbara Lee Ball (David Lipscomb) won the boys and girls races, respectively. The state meet is Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Steeplechase Course.

(Week 10)

Friday’s games
Battle Ground Academy at Chattanooga Baylor
Brentwood High at Franklin
Cane Ridge at Antioch
David Lipscomb at Stratford
Chattanooga McCallie at Brentwood Academy
Davidson Academy at Knox Webb
Donelson Christian Academy at Zion Christian
East Lit at Whites Creek
Ensworth at Father Ryan
Glencliff at Hunters Lane
Goodpasture at Greenbrier
Hillsboro at Centennial
Hillwood at McGavock
Montgomery Bell Academy at Pope John Paul II
Mt. Juliet Christian at Franklin Road Academy
Nashville Christian School at Jo Byrns
Pearl-Cohn at Christ Presbyterian Academy
Ravenwood at Independence
Riverside Christian at Ezell-Harding