But for all his abilities, Warren struggled with ball security, one of his primary jobs as the team’s quarterback, through the first seven contests this fall. The Raiders averaged four turnovers per game during that span, and after their 33-14 loss Oct. 13 at C.H. Flowers, Roosevelt Coach Tom Green opted for a change. He moved Warren to slot receiver, and inserted junior Elijah Liverette at quarterback.
In two games since the switch, the Raiders have turned the ball over once and won both contests by a combined 82 points. That included a 39-0 victory over previously unbeaten DuVal on Oct. 20.
As Roosevelt enters its regular season finale against No. 13 Suitland – a contest that carries playoff implications for the Raiders – Green said the late-season change to his team’s starting lineup was a critical turning point in the Raiders’ postseason push.
“James is an exceptional athlete, but he’d only played quarterback before this year in two games, and we were hoping that he would pick it up a little quicker,” Green said. “With Elijah having more experience in the offense, I think that makes a big difference.”
Liverette played quarterback on the school’s junior varsity squad last season and had started this season at slot receiver and at safety prior to his return under center. In the past two games, Liverette has thrown for two touchdowns – both to Warren – and rushed for another. In addition to his two receiving scores in the past two weeks, Warren also has rushed for two touchdowns.
“Now [Warren] is out there catching the ball; they can bring him in motion and run the ball, so it’s a big challenge for us,” Suitland Coach Ed Shields said. “And the guy they have playing quarterback now, he’s doing a good job. So it just creates challenges all over the board for us.”
Green said he is confident his experienced defensive line can contain Suitland senior tailback Anthony Squire, and the Raiders will double-team and rotate pass coverages toward Suitland senior wideout Taivon Jacobs to try to keep the ball out of his hands.
If Roosevelt – which has won three straight over Suitland, and four of the last five – can succeed in those two regards, Liverette’s primary objective will remain unchanged.
“We have a good defense. We can flat play defense,” Green said. “And I’ve told [Liverette], ‘Your only job is not to turn the ball over. Whatever [points] we get, we get.”
Game to watch: Fairmont Heights (1-8) at Forestville (5-4), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Forestville Coach Charles Harley was working out in the weight room at Landon, where his two sons attend school, on Wednesday morning when the Wings classic “Live and Let Die” blared through the speakers. The coach decided the song’s title represented a perfect motto to reflect his team’s current situation.
The Knights (5-4) missed out on the playoffs last fall and were blitzed by No. 17 Gwynn Park, 48-0, last Saturday, but with a win in their regular season finale against Fairmont Heights (1-8), Harley’s team will likely make the state playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. Surrattsville (5-4), which travels to Gwynn Park (8-1) on Saturday, is also in the mix with Forest Park (5-4) and Southside (4-5) for the last two spots in the Maryland 1A South field.