Looney’s running helping Wheeler’s spotless start
by Maurice Dixon
MDJ Sports Writer
September 14, 2012 12:28 PM | 2469 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kahlem Looney’s proficiency at running the ball has Wheeler on the verge of its first 3-0 start since 1997.

The senior running back will try to eclipse the

100-yard rushing mark for the third straight game tonight when the Wildcats visit Langston Hughes.

In Wheeler’s opener against Sprayberry, Looney ran for 117 yards. He would have also added a 62-yard touchdown run, but it was negated by a penalty.

Then last week during a shutout against Pope, he finished with 109 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown run, on 12 carries.

“He seems to be starting to understand our scheme on offense,” Wheeler coach Mike Collins said. “He’s watching plays develop well and allowing his blocking to take place. He’s getting better and better the more carries he gets.”

And, with the increased touches, Looney has been able to display his growth at the position.

“He’s always been a real physical runner but this year he seems to be developing another aspect of his running game which is elusiveness,” Collins said. “He’s been able to put his foot in the ground and make guys miss. I’m glad to see that.”

As a result, the offensive load has been lighter for quarterback Elijah Staley.

“Kahlem is pass-blocking very well,” Collins said. “His all-around game seems to be improving on a daily basis. We’re excited about that. We need a good combination of the run-pass threat to go along with Elijah.”

Now, according to Collins, Looney and Staley will be facing faster linebackers and defensive backs than in the first two games.

“Langston Hughes is going to be the fastest team we have played by far,” Collins said. “The long road trip and a very athletic, fast team that has had a lot of success so far this season is very concerning to me. But it’s a challenge that we look forward to. A challenge that we need.”

In a 27-7 victory over Luella last week, the Panthers (2-0) forced six turnovers, including an interception returned by Eric Teek for a score.

Maleek Catchings scored for Wheeler on a blocked punt by Allen Artis, and Staley threw for 207 yards and two TDs.

“We played with discipline last week,” Collins said. “That is the thing we are going to have to continue to concentrate on.”

After starting the 1997 season 3-0, Wheeler finished the year with a 10-2 record.

“I think it will be a pretty exciting accomplishment for our kids, being able to say they’ve done something that hasn’t been done since 1997,” Collins said. “But, on the same note, we still want to take things one game at a time.

“The approach for us is just about trying to get better on a daily basis,” he said. “We just want to come out (tonight) and make sure we were better this week than we were last week.”
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