|Shane McSweeny and LiDarral Bailey both can run wild from the quarterback position, although Wesley and Mary Hardin-Baylor do it in significantly different ways.|
By Jason Galleske
Mary Hardin-Baylor need look no further than its own practice to get a feel of what it will be facing on Saturday against Wesley.
The Crusaders have a weapon in quarterback LiDarral Bailey that consistently beats teams with his arm and legs. Wesley counters with Shane McSweeny. The two teams will square off Saturday afternoon in a quarterfinal game in Belton.
"We practice against LiDarral every day trying to keep him contained," Mary Hardin-Baylor coach Pete Fredenburg said. "It is kind of similar to what we're going to have to do on Saturday."
Bailey has led The Cru (12-0) through the air with 1,663 yards on 119-of-190 passing. He also has thrown for 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Despite the high number of picks for the year, Bailey has kept the passes in his team's hands more often lately, as he has thrown just one interception since Week 5. In addition, Bailey has added 709 yards on 132 carries and 13 touchdowns on the ground.
"In the beginning of season, I was making bad decisions," Bailey said. "Then I realized I could be a threat to the defenses and they'd have to worry about me running and passing. I believe that's a big advantage."
Bailey's favorite target this year has been Damian Davis, who has 54 catches for 821 yards and seven touchdowns. The Cru, who normally run out of the I-formation, are led in the backfield by Darius Wilson, who has 1,266 yards on 224 carries for an 5.7 average and 16 touchdowns.
"You've got to spread the entire field against them or you're going to be in trouble," Wesley coach Mike Drass said.
McSweeny also gives the opposition plenty to worry about as he has passed for 2,416 yards on 166 of 255 attempts and has thrown 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also has added 598 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns. Wesley (11-1) runs out of several different formations.
"I feel I can do it all," McSweeny said. "I can run, I can pass. If I see something the defenses are throwing at me differently, I can call an audible. Sometimes I'll tuck the ball and run, if everything is covered. I'll see that little lane and turn a negative thing into a positive thing."
McSweeny also has a bevy of weapons to choose from. Askia Jahad is the Wolverines' leading rusher with 787 yards and nine touchdowns. McSweeny also has a solid receiving corps. Emerging freshman Steven Koudossou thrives on the big play: He's averaged 32 yards on his 16 catches and has eight touchdowns, and more than 25 yards on his 14 carries, with three more touchdowns. Other receiving weapons include 6-foot-4 tight end Sean McAndrew (33 catches, 381 yards, nine touchdowns); 5-foot-7, 175-pound slot back Jeremiah Howe (31 grabs for 397 yards) and field stretcher Matt Barile, with 14 catches for 399 yards and three scores.
"They've got so many skill guys it's incredible trying to keep up with them," Fredenburg said. "McSweeny has such a gift of throwing and [running] it presents a tremendous amount of problems. We just hope to keep him contained."
There's quite a bit of distance between Delaware and Texas, but the teams have been familiar foes in the playoffs, meeting five times since 2005. Wesley has won three, including a 19-9 win at home in last year’s quarterfinals.
"Both teams have great talent," Drass said. "Mary Hardin-Baylor, offensive line-wise, has some of the best lines we've seen. The team that controls line of scrimmage, limits the penalities and turnovers is going to give themselves an edge in the fourth quarter."
Bailey has a similar opinion in a recipe to outduel his counterpart and the Wolverines.
"Whoever wants it the most," Bailey said. "We just have to dig down deep and stay together. We have guys that can make plays on offense and defense, just execute plays and I think we'll be fine."