BILLINGS – The Billings Central Rams have one of the best defenses in the state. The starters have allowed only 14 points all season – all to Belgrade, shutting out their other six opponents – on their way to a 7-0 record.
As usual, it starts up front. But this time, it’s with a sophomore: JaQuawhann Booth.
“He’s a force in there,” said head coach Jim Stanton. “The thing that stands out is his strength and his ability to move. He’s a big kid, but he’s got great feet.”
Teammates just have to laugh sometimes at Booth’s talents.
“Kid’s really good,” said linebacker Jack Studer. “He’s a big part of our defense. He’s a playmaker.”
The 5-foot-10, 300-pound nose tackle is one of the best athletes on the team, and he relishes every opportunity.
“There isn’t anything better (than making a play), because I know my whole team will go crazy,” Booth said. “(Opponents) are not thinking I’m going that fast, but I’m going to lay a hit.”
And when that bone-rattling hit is delivered, it takes a second or two to come back to earth.
“With a lot of people, you just hear that groan, just, ‘Owww,'” Booth said. “A lot of people just lay there for a little bit.”
“It’s scary,” Studer chimed in. “Sometimes I won’t see it, but I’ll hear it.”
Stanton has heard the booms and has some friendly advice.
“You certainly would want to run away from him if you had the opportunity, because he’s a big boy and brings a pretty big punch,” Stanton said.
College-level size and an NFL-level boom spells trouble for opponents and in some cases, even himself.
“My Mighty Mite years, I got kicked out of the league because they said I was going to seriously hurt somebody,” Booth said.
Now he’s taking on guys his own size – or least as close as some can get – and he’s focused on a football future. When asked for a comparison, coaches bring up another Ram: Los Angeles nose tackle and five-time NFL Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh.
“All my coaches really talk about me being like him,” Booth admitted. “He’s quick, he’s big, he can move.”
Booth hopes those traits help him play on Saturdays and Sundays, and he has just the recipe to complement them.
“My grandma cooks some steak and potatoes, maybe some broccoli with cheese. That’s what my pregame meal is,” he said.
Central hosts Lewistown Friday on Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.