0

Broncos face big test in unbeaten M.L. King

Staff Photo: John Bohn Brookwood quarterback Zach Moon (14) throws a pass against Peachtree Ridge in a playoff game last Friday. 

Staff Photo: John Bohn Brookwood quarterback Zach Moon (14) throws a pass against Peachtree Ridge in a playoff game last Friday. 

From all the film Mark Crews has watched on M.L. King, one play stands out.

East Coweta's running back rips off a long run and is streaking down the open field, building a more than 10-yard lead on the M.L. King defenders. Then the Lions' defensive end turns around and tracks him down from behind.

It's a big play, but not a scoring play. It's also a reason M.L. King is undefeated and hosting the Broncos in the second round of the playoffs.

"You have to figure they have a lot of athleticism and team speed," Crews said.

At least on defense, one play seems to indicated that.

It's a defense that thrives on turnovers, leading DeKalb County with 38 on the season and returning four for scores. But the defense is not the Broncos' main concern.

"You feel like you can do some things on offense," Crews said. Then, he noted the thwarted long TD run.

But the real threat Crews and the Broncos face from M.L. King comes on offense.

The unbeaten Lions haven't scored less than 16 points all season and typically break 30. Against a Stephenson team Lowndes beat 7-0, the Lions scored 50. Even last week against a grinding team like Coffee, M.L. King put up 30 points.

"They've beaten good teams that run the football," Crews said.

Quarterback Jonquel Dawson's 89 touchdown passes are three shy of the state record for a career and he's thrown 35 this season while racking up 2,822 yards. Dawson hurt his ankle two weeks ago in the season finale against Stephenson but was able to rest the second half last week and will play tonight.

"He is definitely the leader of our team," said M.L. King coach Michael Carson. "As he goes, we go.

"He's healthy."

Georgia commit Blake Tibbs is Dawson's main target with 59 catches, 976 yards and 14 touchdowns. In the past two games, he has kickoff returns for scores of 82 and 99 yards.

"We are not a ball-control type team," said Carson, whose Lions longest drive was 17 plays a few weeks ago. "We are a strike quick in a hurry type offensive team."

"I think that puts pressure on us offensively," Crews said. "The No. 1 thing when you are playing a team, like we did when we played Collins Hill last year in the semifinals, you have to play great on offense. You have to play keep away. If you let them have the ball 15 times you are going to get beat.

"It puts the defense at a huge disadvantage."

Because of teams like Collins Hill a year ago, South Gwinnett, Central Gwinnett and Archer, Brookwood's defense has adjusted to the threat of pass-first, attack offenses like M.L. King's. Not only adjusted, but found success.

"There are people that don't even have a tight end on their roster," Crews said. "You have to get one of those down linemen out, otherwise you can't cover all that stuff. People kind of pick you apart."

With Nick Tompkins running the ball, Brookwood hopes it can keep Tibbs and the rest of the Lions' offense watching and waiting. Add in the season-long emergence of first-year starting quarterback Zach Moon and Brookwood keeps adding dimensions to its offense.

"We are about 60-40 (run-pass) right now," Crews said. "It's good that everybody has that perception that all we do is run. We throw stuff we hope gets us first downs. We are going to throw when we need to."