Northwest football coach Steve Martin encouraged wide receiver Alex Bott to go out for track last spring, specifically to help him improve his speed.
“He’s a tremendous worker, and he was a good wide receiver last year,” Martin said. “Ran good routes, blocked well. We talked him into running track. He wasn’t blazing, but he ran the 100, (400 relay), (1600 relay), and it really paid off because he saw such an increase in speed.”
Bott is the City League leader in receptions (31) and receiving yards (563) and will be a key factor as the Grizzlies (7-0, ranked second overall) play host to Garden City (7-0, ranked seventh overall) at 7 Friday night.
Martese Mullins, who is fourth in the City League with 29 catches for 378 yards, has never lacked for speed.
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“For so long he’s relied on his speed to get open,” Martin said. “He had a tremendous summer with (assistant) coach (Cole) Cherryholmes working on technique. He’s got Martese bought into blocking and running precise routes.”
How much passing Northwest will do is directly related to quarterback Kevin Folsom. He has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, but Martin said it only hampered his play because he needed to learn to run with the brace.
Martin expects Folsom, who has 1,282 passing yards, 526 rushing, to be at 100 percent.
Folsom has been able to spread the ball to eight receivers and takes the time to check down multiple reads.
He also involves his sure-handed running backs — Jahlyl Rounds has 12 catches for 174 yards, while Tony Joyner has six catches, 83 yards.
“(Defenses) have to respect our backs coming out of the backfield,” Martin said. “… They’re not just blockers or running backs. They’re very dynamic. They can catch the ball, and they do a good job of getting open.”