West Ashley quarterback Thomas Woodhead went from playmaker to cheerleader in a matter of seconds during last weekend's 27-25 victory over Wando.
That type of leadership has helped the Wildcats open the season with a 3-0 record.
Late in the game, Woodhead huddled the offense around him and told his teammates, "Either we want it bad enough or we don't." The Wildcats responded by marching 80 yards for a score. Woodhead capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run late in the game to give the Wildcats the lead. He didn't celebrate that much; instead, he sought out the defense.
"I told them not to let the ball fly over their heads," Woodhead said. "I wanted to give them praise, encouragement. I wanted them to know they could get the job done."
Wildcats defender David Campbell completed the mission with an interception, keeping the Wildcats' perfect season intact.
"When the defense came up with that interception, it was the best feeling ever," said Woodhead, who finished the game with 107 yards rushing.
The Wildcats are feeling good about themselves this fall. After many tough-luck losses during Bobby Marion's tenure, the Wildcats pulled out a close encounter. The team went 3-8 last fall, but three of the losses were by a touchdown or less.
"That win over Wando was huge," said Woodhead, who leads the team into today's 7:30 p.m. home game against Ashley Ridge. "That was a big confidence booster. The team is coming together."
Woodhead is one of 41 seniors on the West Ashley roster, and that experience is one reason why a win Friday would give the Wildcats a 4-0 record for the first time since the school opened in time for the 2000-01 academic year. The Wildcats also have good talent, including Woodhead, who runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.5 range.
He's in his second year as the starting QB and he's as comfortable running the football as he is passing. He has averaged nearly 100 yards a game.
"His experience has really made a difference this year," Marion said. "He's more mature and he sees the field a lot better. Also, all the starters on the offensive line are seniors. The better they are, the better he is."
The only knock on Woodhead is his height. He's listed at only 5-9, which makes it difficult to be a pocket passer. Marion says college ball is in Woodhead's future. The coach said Woodhead has the talent to play in the Southern Conference as a slot back or wide receiver.
But the only thing Woodhead is thinking about is getting past the Swamp Foxes and finishing out the 2011 season.
"We've had a productive year," he said. "We have the talent, the coaching. We need to have faith. We can contend for the region title and make the playoffs."
And if that happens, Wildcats fans will have something to cheer about: a playmaker who can win games.