By ROB LUDWIG / Special To The Corsicana Daily Sun
Two years ago, Cameron Washington and Dominique Kelly were the kings of the offense and defense, leading Corsicana High School to the Class 4A State Semifinals.
After a year of biding their time, they turn out to be the kings of Tiger Stadium once again.
The Corsicana graduates certainly got a good start at a familiar domination last week as Navarro rolled to a 76-26 season-opening victory against Arkansas Baptist.
Washington gained a game-high 105 yards and one touchdown and Kelly had a team-high 11 tackles, two sacks and three tackles for losses in his first start at middle linebacker for the Bulldogs.
The Corsicana duo will take their act on the road Saturday when the No. 3 Bulldogs play No. 6 Hutchinson, Kan. in the SWJCFC-Jayhawk Conference Shootout.
Washington has teamed with Tim Wright to form a dynamic one-two punch out of the backfield. As seniors two years ago, Washington and Wright (La Marque) were two of the most prolific high school running backs in Texas, combining for more than 5,000 rushing yards.
Wright was injured much of last year but showed flashes of the back who went toe-to-toe with current University of Texas starter Jonathan Gray in the state finals as a junior.
Washington, meanwhile, averaged more than eight yards per carry in a crowded backfield that was fronted by current SMU back Traylon Shead.
“Now we’re the two-headed monster,” Washington said. “Tim will look over at me in practice and say, ‘Cam, it’s me and you, buddy.’ We’re both north-south runners.’ We like to get up in there, bang for yards and then run for daylight.”
Figuring out where those creases were took a while for Washington on the college level. He could take a handoff on a stretch play, take his time and find a hole. Then he would accelerate and be in the secondary before linemen and some linebackers could react.
Not so much in college. Now Washington must find a hole quickly created by Navarro’s massive offensive line and get there in a hurry. When he’s successful, you can see Washington bounding into the secondary. When he’s not, he might bounce back toward the quarterback equally fast.
“Everything is much quicker on this level,” Washington said. “You’ve got these 300-pound guys making holes for you up front, but they don’t stay open for long. You can never slow down.”
That’s not something you have to worry about with Kelly. The 6-foot, 215-pound sophomore has slimmed down from his high school days, adding to his quickness. His passion and eagerness to get to the football, however, was never questioned.
Kelly has adapted to defensive coordinator Scott Joseph’s new 3-4 defense, a striking change from the 4-3 scheme employed last season when he saw very limited time on the field.
The previous coaching staff initially wanted to look at Kelly at fullback, where he was a dominant blocker for Washington as a senior. But the more they saw of Kelly at linebacker, the more it was evident he could play at this level. He settled in at middle linebacker in the spring and is now a fixture alongside Crishard Buhl.
“It’s hard to compare the coaching styles between the last two defensive coordinators,” Kelly said.” It just seems that the calls in (Joseph’s) system are easier, but he’s very intense. He wants us to be a dominant defense and I think we’re going to get there. We’ve got the players, we’ve got the hunger and we’ve got plenty of motivation. Now we have to go produce.”
Familiar words from a familiar leader at Tiger Stadium.