Skyhawk passing attack takes flight

Long known for its running attack, L.C. Bird needed something to get over the hump and into the promised land. A tall, athletic quarterback with a big arm from Henrico transferred to Bird last season when his family moved into the district. A state championship later, that quarterback is now a senior – Terrance Ervin.

“Us being able to throw the ball when we needed to in addition to the run game was great,” said team captain and center Josey Davis. “This year, we’ve got the same feel.”

Ervin recently de-committed from Liberty University, but is receiving interest from several other division one programs including Wake Forest, James Madison and Delaware State.

In talking football last Thursday at Bird’s walkthrough, it was apparent that Ervin is focused, but relaxed. The conversation included various topics such as colleges, running backs, x’s and o’s and wide receivers. The three players on the receiving end of most of his passes are the reason why teams must prepare for the run and pass against Bird. Seniors Rasheed Worsham and Shawn Payne, a Virginia Tech commit start, and junior Tyler Wilkins has made the most of his playing time.

“This is a competitive receiving corp,” said Bird Head Coach David Bedwell. “They challenge each other and push each other to do better.”

The leader of the receiving corp is Worsham, who has taken an eraser to the L.C. Bird record books so far this season setting five records through nine games. In 2013, Worsham has hauled in 31 catches for 651 yards and 11 touchdowns, while scoring a touchdown via a run and pass as well. The senior has made significant strides in the classroom and has Division 2 schools Shepherd and Concord interested. FCS power Delaware has also shown interest.

“Rasheed needs to continue to improve on and off the field,” stated Bedwell. “He’s made some positive changes and gotten some good reports from teachers.”

Ervin and Worsham first met at the Elkins Central Region camp two summers ago and quickly became friends, building rapport on the field. When Ervin got to Bird, it gave him an immediate target.

“I love throwing the ball to Rasheed,” Ervin said.

Payne (6-4, 175) provides an athletic target for Ervin and has made some spectacular catches in 2013. The senior also plays safety and has verbally committed to Virginia Tech.

In the Skyhawks’ 35-0 victory over Cosby, Payne didn’t reach pay-dirt but both of his catches were athletic ones. More importantly, both also continued eventual scoring drives.

“Shawn has great height and speed,” said Ervin. “He can really take the roof off the defense.”

Junior Tyler Wilkins has impressed his coaches and his quarterback this year since camp broke. Wilkins is versatile on offense, lining up at split end, flanker and occasionally tight end. While he may not be quite as athletic as his counterparts, both head coach and quarterback note that the young receiver has great ball skills and the plays the game smart. Wilkins has averaged over 20 yards per catch and scored twice.

“If I need to make a throw to him, he’s going to catch it,” stated Ervin confidently.

With three talented targets to throw to, Bedwell joked that sometimes he has to remind the guys that there’s only one football to go around.

“When I see Shawn or Tyler make a play I want to make one even worse,” said Worsham.

Bird’s running game is outstanding again this year, led by running back Earl Hughes, partially due to work the receivers have put in to improve their downfield blocking.

“A great benefit to having a running back like Earl is that it opens up the passing game,” Bedwell said. “These guys aren’t getting a couple of catches a game for five or six yards, they have chances to make big plays and do so.”

The Skyhawks look to finish the regular season a perfect 10-0 this Friday at home vs. Manchester. To make run at a repeat, they’ll need the talent on both sides of the ball to perform. Follow the Skyhawks with us on twitter @VNewsSports.

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