GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — It's not very often a high school football team has a four-year starting quarterback, but that's exactly what Greenwood High School has in Kwadra Griggs.
Griggs, a 6-4, 225-pound senior, has been one of the leaders for the Bulldogs this season during their 10-1 campaign. Friday night, Griggs and Co. travel to Oxford to take on Lafayette County High School (7-5) in a second-round North 4A playoff contest. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
"It's our time to get a win. They have owned us the last two years, but we want to come out swinging. We've got to play our game. This whole team is taking this game serious. We're not the same team we were the last two years. We're focused and ready to take the next step," said Griggs.
Griggs has been the starting signal caller for the Bulldogs since he was a freshman. He helped guide Greenwood to a 10-2 overall mark and a second-round playoff appearance in 2010. Greenwood lost 42-8 to Shannon High School to end its season.
In 2011, Griggs and the Bulldogs made the playoffs once again, advancing to the second round, where they lost to Lafayette 53-8. They were second in Region 3 with a 4-1 record.
During his junior year, Griggs and the Bulldogs finished with a 5-6 overall record and a 24-7 first-round playoff loss to Lafayette.
In the last two seasons, Greenwood is 0-4 against Lafayette, which also includes two regular season games. The Commodores have outscored the Bulldogs 160-15 in those four contests.
"Like Coach (Clinton) Gatewood tells us, every day is a new day. We've just got to continue to work hard and believe in each other. I believe we can beat them. We know we have the talent, it's all mental now. They were the No. 1 team in the state two years ago, and maybe we were a little intimidated. Coach Gatewood says they put their pants on one leg at a time and brush their teeth the same way we do," said Griggs.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Carey Weaver, who also serves as Griggs' baseball coach during the spring, says he was hard on his star quarterback in the beginning.
"I've been tough on him since he started for us. He'd go home and tell his mom how hard Coach Weaver has been on me, but it's all paid off. He's now one of the better quarterbacks in the state. We've grown together. We've been real fortunate to have him as our starting quarterback for four seasons. Not many teams can boast that," said Weaver.
Griggs is also a standout player for the baseball team. He has been the starting catcher since the eighth grade and does some relief pitching as well. He's shown he can hit the ball to all fields.
"I love baseball, but it's football season right now. Baseball was always my first love. I still pick up my bat at home and give it a few swings," said Griggs. "Coach Gatewood told me a scout called him last season, but I try not to focus on those things. My mind is on beating Lafayette and helping this team get to Jackson to play for a state championship."
Griggs' senior campaign has been one of his best in his four years. Through the 10 games he's played in, Griggs has completed 64 percent of his passes. He is 123 of 191 for 1,960 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has also given the Bulldogs a boost in the ground game with 131 yards and six touchdowns on 34 carries.
During his four-year career, Griggs has thrown for 7,936 yards and 72 touchdowns on 539 of 970 passing with 35 interceptions.
"Two of the biggest things the coaches told me I needed to improve in were film study and foot work. Lot of times I would just use my arm strength to throw the ball instead of planting my feet and making good solid throws.
"And the other thing was film study. Coach Weaver and Coach Gatewood keep me in the film room breaking down defenses and reading coverages. I think that has helped make me a better quarterback this season," Griggs said.
"It's meant a lot to have Kwadra as our quarterback. I saw him as an eighth-grader and knew then that we needed an offense that best suited his talent. He could throw a baseball like nobody else in junior high, and I knew we needed him as our starting quarterback," said Gatewood.
"He's a young man who is built to play quarterback. He has a strong arm, a quick release and a knowledge of the game. He's come so far in the four years we've had him on this team."
Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, http://www.gwcommonwealth.com