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Football Player of the Week: West Hall's Shunquez Stephens

POSTED: August 30, 2010 10:23 p.m.

Player of the Week: Shunquez Stephens

Shunquez Stephens of the West Hall Spartans is the Player of the Week.

OAKWOOD — The West Hall High football team came into last Friday’s game with East Hall with an unusual set of circumstances: an 11-game losing streak and one of the best quarterback’s in the area.

Shunquez Stephens threw for 2,331 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2009, and added another 433 yards and three touchdowns with his legs, but couldn’t put a notch in the win column. When the season ended at 0-10 a weight settled onto the shoulders of the senior quarterback.

That weight has been lifted.

Stephens accounted for 375 yards of offense and two touchdowns on Friday night in Oakwood to lead the Spartans to an 18-6 victory over the Vikings and avenge a 34-28 loss suffered a year ago.

For his efforts, Stephens is The Times Football Player of the Week.

“It feels great to get that first win,” Stephens said. “I mean, last year we just, I don’t know, couldn’t get it together. But this year, we’ve been practicing really hard to actually come out and compete against most of these teams.”

Stephens credits the mental focus of the team for the win over East Hall.

“We got focused before the game; at the pregame meal, nobody talked,” he said. “We got focused and just painted that mental picture in our minds that we had to come out and win this first game.

“That was the word of the week: focus.”

That mental discipline was certainly on display through the first offensive series of the game Friday. With his first play resulting in an incomplete pass, and the second a sack, Stephens remained calm on third down and threw a bullet to Antonio Sigmund, who broke two tackles en route to a 68-yard touchdown scamper. A quarter later, Stephens hit William Stroup with a 33-yard pass as part of a 12-play, 90-yard scoring drive. The quarterback scored on a 2-yard run to cap the drive and put West Hall up 12-0 before half.

But Stephens didn’t win the game alone.

Newcomer Dre Pou scored on a 4-yard run later in the second quarter to give West Hall an 18-0 lead. The senior running back hasn’t played football in “like, seven years” according to Stephens, but the quarterback considers it a matter of time before Pou is a big part of the offense.

“Once he gets the offense down it will take a lot of pressure off of me,” Stephens said. “He has the speed and ability to make people miss and get the yards we need.”

Having a dependable running game would be a benefit for the Spartans and Stephens, who admittedly prefers to “sit in the pocket and pass” rather than run the ball.

Stephens considers pocket discipline a requirement if the Spartans want to get off to a 2-0 start this Friday at Chestatee.

“When East Hall was rushing, they really didn’t rush that hard but I kind of got away from sitting in the pocket,” Stephens said. “Against (Chestatee), I’ll need to show some poise in the pocket. Just sit back and relax and make throws.”

Stephens has never played against the War Eagles in a regular season game but he did face them in 2009 during a preseason scrimmage.

According to Stephens, the Spartans got “beat pretty bad” in that scrimmage.

The last time West Hall played Chestatee at all, Stephens was a freshman and missed the game due to a dislocated finger.

Because he has limited knowledge of the War Eagles on the field, Stephens knows that he won’t be able to rely on the past to motivate him for the game.

“I got to get myself motivated for this game,” Stephens said. “I don’t know what Chestatee has and I haven’t really officially played against them. I just have to focus and watch film on them and see what they do.

“Once I get all that stuff done, I’ll be pretty motivated.”



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