Friday Night Hero: West Rowan receiver Weeks coming on strong
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — Just 14 months ago, West Rowan was still trying to figure out if a talented sophomore named Kortez Weeks was their future quarterback or their future go-to receiver.
Some prudent decisions were made in Mount Ulla. Former fullback Kacey Otto was handed the reins as the starting quarterback, while Weeks began catching passes full-time.
Fast forward to the present and West (9-3) is heading into Friday’s second-round 3A playoff game at West Henderson with Otto as the county’s top quarterback and Weeks as the county’s leading receiver. The elusive junior has 63 catches for 922 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns. He also had a 95-yard kickoff return TD against Davie, which offers an idea of what he can do with his wheels in the open field.
Weeks is 6-foot-2. He’s long, lean and quick at 175 pounds and looks like the prototype prep wideout.
He’s good just about every week, but he really flourishes against Carson.
His career game is his 11-catch, 181-yard, two-TD performance in the overtime win against Carson in 2014.
He approached those numbers in Friday’s 28-27 OT victory against the Cougars. He had six catches for 173 yards and helped Otto break the school single-game passing record with 337 yards.
So that’s 17 catches for 354 yards for Weeks in the two classic games with the Cougars.
“Kortez makes big plays and he makes them at the biggest moments,” West coach Joe Nixon said. “He runs great routes and he can get up in the air. He has a knack for catching the ball.”
West still likes to run the ball — especially with Otto, a human bulldozer — but these are not the I-formation Falcons of old. They use four wideouts quite a bit. Weeks might be lined up in the slot, might be lined up as a split end with three receivers on the opposite side, or he might be part of an alignment with twin wideouts to both sides.
“We want teams to have to identify where Kortez is lined up,” Nixon said. “If they single-cover him, that’s usually a good matchup for us. If he draws safety help, then we’ve got other options that should be good for us.”
Weeks was a running back and quarterback in his early football days and learned a lot by watching his older brother, Keyows, who was a good running back for the Falcons.
As a middle schooler, Weeks started thinking of himself mostly as a receiver, although he is such a good athlete that the Falcons, who rarely play anyone both ways, occasionally use him at free safety.
Weeks has posted four 100-yard games this season. What makes that remarkable is that Otto averages only 15 passing attempts per game.
“We don’t throw it as much as some teams do, so it’s important to us to make every pass play work,” Weeks said. “Making a good catch could mean winning the ballgame.”
Weeks has exceptional hands and speed and he’s worked to make himself a complete receiver.
“I spend a lot of time in practice working on running pass routes just right so I know I can get open,” Weeks said. “If I’m getting open, it helps our other receivers, it helps our running backs, and it helps Kacey. This is the second year I’ve been working with Kacey. Our timing just keeps getting better.”
Weeks catches the tough slants even when he knows he’s going to get popped. H makes the acrobatic, tip-toeing sideline catches. He also stretches the field for the Falcons by catching the ball on post, dig and flag routes.
Robinson is the only team that’s stopped Weeks this season. The Bulldogs held him to one short reception. He’s caught at least three passes in every other game this year. Dating back to last season, he now has a streak of at least one reception in 20 straight games.
“I feel good about Friday’s win and about the season I’ve had, but I know I’ve got to keep working,” Weeks said.
Weeks, who said he’s gotten recruiting interest from Old Dominion, Georgia Southern and Campbell, came into this season with one individual goal — 1,000 receiving yards.
He needs 78 more yards.
There have been only 11 1,000-yard receiving seasons in Rowan County history. Three of those 11 — Jon Crucitti (2009), Chavis Cowan (1994) and Jarvis Morgan (2011) — were turned in by Falcons.
Weeks surpassed 100 catches for his two-year career on Friday. He is the 12th Rowan County receiver to reach that milestone.
Weeks has 1,499 career receiving yards. Assuming good health, he’s a lock to become Rowan County’s sixth 2,000-yard receiver as a senior in 2016. The West career receiving yards record — 1,848 by Crucitti — should be shattered by Weeks.
While 1,000 is in the back of his head, Weeks will be focused on West Henderson on Friday. A win means another game, and another game means more opportunities to make more catches.
“Hopefully, we can go up there and make more big plays happen,” Weeks said. “That’s what we were able to do against Carson.”