West Side Cougars
Inside the Cougars
Last season: 6-5
Returning starters: 15 (9 offense, 6 defense)
Returning offensive leader
Ramone Atkins, Jr., QB. 149-297, 3,012 yards, 36 TDs, 19 INT.
Returning defensive leader
Paco Jordan, Sr., Pos. 66 TKL (38 assists), 1 Sack, 1 Forced fumble.
Lionel Johnson, Sr., WR/RB. Johnson is headed to Ohio State and there's no question as to why. He returns with 756 yards receiving and 777 yards rushing. He also make 30 tackles, 19 of them solos.
He's got next
Marcus Carter, Sr., DB. His speed helped earn him a spot in the defensive secondary, despite his rookie status as a football player. A track athlete, this is his first year on the gridiron and he's quickly making a name for himself.
The Times' breakdown
The Cougars are loaded with talent and ready to show that they can be among the best in the area, not just the best in the conference. The Johnson boys -- cousins Lonnie and JonVea' -- are expected to lead the team in more ways than one. College coaches are calling, and not just for Lonnie Johnson. Ramone Atkins returns as the state's top passer and he'll have multiple threats to pass to. West Side has found more athletes while combing the halls and the Cougars coaching staff has had no problem turning basketball players into football players. That has decreased the need for two-way necessity and will spell the skill athletes. "We improve immediately with our depth," coach Jason Johnson said. "The way some of these players jump, run and bend in basketball has easily translated to football." What they're seeing in practice needs to translate to performance, the coach said. "Two years ago we started to build this model of what we wanted," coach Johnson said. "Now we want to see them do it on Friday nights."
— Hillary Smith