Matt Lawson doesn't exactly run a democracy out there on Big Bethel Road, but he's smart enough to allow his Tabb Tigers to play to their strengths and then cut them loose.
Of course, Lawson can be a little more accommodating when the players in question are a capable and unselfish pitch-and-catch combo that just happens to be best friends. Sean Case has become the full-time guy at quarterback, while Jeffrey Schurott has moved seamlessly from quarterback to wide receiver, and might still line up some under center if the occasion calls for it.
"They're more comfortable with that right now," Lawson said. "They just let themselves evolve and get that way. So us as coaches, we've just got to let our kids play sometimes. We've got a system that we can do different things with the kids that we have, and it's working out nice for us."
If "nice" is Friday's 40-22 wax job against Smithfield in a Bay Rivers District first-place showdown, imagine what "good" or "excellent" might produce.
Case directed a balanced attack that piled up 316 yards — 182 on the ground, 134 through the air — against a defense that came in allowing only 125.7 yards per game in its first three games.
"We knew we were going to have to pass and run," Case said. "We saw the holes in their defense when we watched film. We thought we could get outside on them, and when they started playing outside, we were able to pound it up the middle."
Case completed 7 of 12 passes for those 134 yards and one touchdown. Schurott was the primary target, snagging three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. He made a nice catch-and-run for the score, cutting between the cornerback and the safety on a 26-yard scamper that gave Tabb a 21-7 lead before halftime.
"Especially because we both play quarterback," Case said, "we know where the weak spots in the zones are, and we know where to go."
The Tigers' ability to throw helps the running game, or maybe it's the other way around. In any case, Corey Patrick and Chris Parham combined for 35 carries for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
"We thought we could do everything we wanted to do," Tabb two-way lineman Ryan Cummins said. "We didn't believe the hype. If we ran our offense well, we were going to score."
Smithfield lent a helping hand, as well. After cutting the deficit to 21-15 on their first drive of the third quarter, the Packers mostly self-destructed with two interceptions and a fumble — all of which gave Tabb short fields for a touchdown and two field goals. The Packers also had a touchdown nullified by a penalty just before halftime and came away empty.
"That's been a common thing this entire year," Case said. "We've been getting great special teams and causing turnovers like we did tonight. It just makes it so much more comfortable because we're already starting so much closer to the end zone."
Indeed, Tabb's worst starting field position on its three scoring drives in the second half was the Smithfield 48.
"We're scoring a lot of points," Lawson said. "We're moving the ball all over the place. I think we're pretty good. But we're going to find out. We're playing, next week coming up, Lafayette — probably the best defense in the district the past several years. Coach (Paul) Wheeler does a great job and they're going to be ready."
Listen to the Tigers, and they believe they're ready, too.
"Our offense is almost at its peak," Cummins said. "We're doing awesome right now. We just need to tweak a few things and then we'll be unstoppable."
Dave Fairbank can be reached at 247-4637 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org