Timberwolves look to rebound without quarterback Aveon Smith
It would have been understandable to see a dispirited White Knoll football team at Monday's practice.
The Timberwolves were coming off a 45-27 loss to archrival Lexington which prevented a first-ever 6-0 start. They also suffered a bigger personnel blow when senior quarterback Aveon Smith, left the game with a knee injury.
Head coach Dean Howell confirmed the news of Smith's upcoming surgery to repair a torn ACL. Without the Miami (Ohio)-bound commitment, White Knoll finds itselfs without the heart and soul of its offense entering the bulk of Region 5-5A play.
Despite the grim news, however, the players and coaching staff looked to remain upbeat in preparation for Friday's home game against Chapin (3-3, 0-1). With Smith leading the team in a pre-practice prayer on crutches and sporting a left knee brace, the Timberwolves went about the task of moving forward.
"I hope (mentally) we're in a good place," Howell said. "We're 5-1 and we've accomplished a lot of great things this year, but we know there's a lot more on the table. A lot more that we need to accomplish. So, I hope we're in a good place. If they're not, they probably don't need to be out here."
Looking to step in to fill Smith's shoes is Jaelin Gray. The 5-11, 176-pound senior has seen limited action both at quarterback (8-19 passing, 79 yards, 2 TDs) and wide receiver (2 receptions, 14 yards) and while does numbers pale in comparision to Smith (51-84 passing, 1,029 yards, 18 TDs; 608 rushing yards, 9 TDs), Gray also provides a dual threat both passing and running (48 rushing yards, 2 TDs) the football.
"I think he'll play great," Howell said. "I think he'll do great. He's always done great every chance he's had and if he was at most high schools, he'd probably be the starting quarterback. So, he's our starting quarterback now with AV out and I'm excited for him and excited for his opportunity."