Talented QB back to lead Elizabeth Forward offensive attack
When Mike LeDonne returned to Elizabeth Forward a couple of years back, he figured it would take five years to get the Warriors back on track.
That thought came well before JaQuan Davidson showed up.
Davidson transferred from McKeesport three weeks before LeDonne's second season and immediately turned a “putrid” offense into one of the most dynamic in the WPIAL and accelerated that five-year program into two years by making the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.
Now LeDonne and Elizabeth Forward want more — such as a first home playoff game in school history — and know Davidson has to be the guy to lead them.
“Don't fix it if it isn't broke, and we are going to do what we do,” LeDonne said. “JaQuan makes plays, and we are going to ride him as much as we can.”
Elizabeth Forward won six of its last seven games to qualify for the playoffs last year before falling to Franklin Regional in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.
The success can be traced to Davidson's junior season when he rushed for 1,007 yards and 14 touchdowns and threw for 590 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers have translated into at least a dozen scholarship offers.
And they've also translated into a lot more attention on the field.
Or, as LeDonne said, “He's not going to sneak up on anybody this year.”
That might be true, but Davidson also had a full offseason to get better at a position he hadn't played since eighth grade.
“Anytime you have an offseason to work with the young man, it is only going to benefit you and him,” LeDonne said. “We had time in the offseason where we could work on the passing game. He understands more. Last year, he probably didn't understand a lot of what we wanted to do as far as the progressions and options he had available.”
LeDonne spent the offseason adding a couple of well-guarded dimensions and twists to an offense that doubled its point production from 11.1 points per game to 22.3 in one year.
“We have to make sure that they just can't key on one person,” LeDonne said.
That's where the Warriors' other threats come in, most notably running back Ryan Wardropper, all-purpose back Jaylen French and receivers Matt Bernadowski and Jake Meyers.
Add those players to a line that returns three starters, and the offense has a chance to be even better than last year's.
“I am trying to stress to them that they aren't going to sneak up on anybody this year,” LeDonne said. “They know what we have coming back, and they are going to be ready for it.”
LeDonne will have to try to replace Rex Pearce, Max Strotman and Anthony Hill on defense.
“We have our work cut out for us,” LeDonne said. “Teams will be ready for us. I knew the team was hungry last year. The wins and losses never surprise me. We want to build a program here, and we still have a long way to go.”