The Gridiron Blog brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school football.
Friday Night Previews (Aug. 24)
COURTLAND AT MASSAPONAX, 7:30
Last meeting: The visiting Panthers amassed 376 hard-earned yards on the ground and posted a 29–6 victory in last year’s season opener.
Tonight’s matchup: The No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the Free Lance–Star’s preseason power poll clash in this renewed rivalry. Both have their sights set on another playoff run and hope to get off to a fast start tonight.
The third-ranked Cougars lost a number of players from last year’s playoff team that dropped a 38–24 decision to Grafton in the Region I title game. Despite the losses, they’ve reloaded with a solid mix of new talent, including QB Eric Washington, a transfer from Orange. All-region DE Jared Fehrens will help anchor the new defense, along with massive DT Charles Roane (6–5, 332) and senior Dorien Thomas (5–10, 292).
The No. 2 Panthers will be missing many of their offensive weapons from last year’s Northwest Region playoff squad, but should be dangerous again with their multiple-option offense. Returning QB Alonzo Trice will direct the attack behind an experienced line anchored by Virginia Tech-bound Vinny Mihota, a two-way performer. Three returning starters in the secondary could help make the defense hard to score on.
RIVERBEND AT CHANCELLOR, 7:30
Last meeting: Darrin Jackson’s touchdown pass to Tyler Morton late in overtime helped seal the Chargers’ exciting 15–8 win last season.
Tonight’s matchup: The Bears and new coach Tony DeMarco look for their first win against a veteran Chargers team and their longtime coach, Bob Oliver. Strong running games and solid play up front could be big keys to victory for both teams.
The Bears won just two games last year, both in the Commonwealth District. DeMarco will try to improve on that finish with a mixture of veterans and newcomers. The running game figures to be in capable hands with returning starter Dakota Drain and sophomore speedster DeVonte Christmas lining up behind a newly structured line that will need to develop quickly. Defensively, they should get a big lift from their front wall and the physical play of returning DT Jamie Deason.
The Chargers have high hopes of returning to the Region I playoffs, thanks to a solid nucleus of returning starters that includes QB Darrin Jackson, D–I recruit Chris Holmes and all-district linemen Steven Moss and Brandon Gallahan. Leading rusher Dominic Kaopua is also back, and adds a legitimate scoring threat to the pistol offense. Oliver plans to utilize the new multiple-option attack again and capitalize on the play-making ability of Jackson and a strong corps of receivers.
SPOTSYLVANIA AT WASHINGTON & LEE, 7:30
Last meeting: Last year, the Eagles rolled to a 41–27 victory behind the play of versatile QB Josh Fones and season rushing-leader Marquis James.
Tonight’s matchup: A revamped Eagles squad and their first-year coach Antron Yates tangle with an experienced Group AA Knights team in Montross. W&L is coming off a 10–2 record last season that included a trip to the Division 2 semifinals, while Spotsylvania finished with a 2–8 mark.
The Knights look to avenge last year’s opening loss with a senior-laden team that features returning QB Ashten Dixon, an experienced running attack and a hungry defense. Last year, Ashten threw for more than 1,100 yards and ran for six touchdowns. An experienced set of linebackers and a veteran secondary should also help their chances for posting an opening victory tonight.
Yates has replaced W&L legend Malcolm Lewis on the sideline, but hopes to keep the Eagles’ winning tradition alive with a relatively young team that has good potential. Returning TB Kwame Gray will be one of the keys on offense, along with a veteran line that includes two-year starters Riney Brown, Juandre Wise, D.J. Jackson and A.J. Turner. With only two senior starters back on defense, the Eagles will need for several newcomers to step up and fill some gaps.
EASTERN VIEW AT LOUISA, 7:30
The Cyclones and Lions collide in Mineral in search of their first win, as well as some answers to early questions. Louisa coach Jon Meeks will be looking to fill the void left by graduated RB Andre Mealy (1,719 yards, 24 TDs). Eastern View coach Greg Hatfield will be evaluating the play of 10 new sophomore starters, including new place-kicker Chase Bailey, a soccer recruit.
FREEDOM AT MOUNTAIN VIEW, 7:30
The fifth-ranked Wildcats and their talented defense led by LBs Jason Hager and Brandon Watts aim for a big night against the visiting Eagles, a team they blitzed by a 26–0 margin last year. New sophomore QB Elijah Burress will lead the Mountain View offense, which features highly recruited WR DeSean Hamilton and RB Gordon Collins, who rushed for 860 yards a year ago.
KING GEORGE AT MANASSAS PARK, 7
The Foxes and fourth-year coach Jeff Smith hope to build on last season’s return to the playoffs with a strong start at the Group A Cougars’ den. Two-way QB/LB Corey Henderson and hard-running TB De’Shon Brown figure prominently in their plans, as does DB Jordi Estes, who recorded nine interceptions last year. Juwan Parker, a 289-pound noseguard, has been impressive early with his physical play on the line.
OSBOURN AT BROOKE POINT, 7:30
After winning nine games and advancing to the Northwest Region title game last year, the Black–Hawks unveil some new faces and upcoming talent in their bid for another playoff run. New QB Alex Cox, returning RB John Horsley and all-district WR Tyus White will be key cogs in their restructured offense. The Black–Hawks won last season’s high-scoring shootout in Manassas, 54–21.
POTOMAC AT STAFFORD, 7:30
Coach Chad Lewis’ 2012 squad looks to open its home schedule on a positive note against the Cardinal District Panthers. Physical 230-pound QB Billy Bolinsky and new starting RB Travon Richardson figure to be major contributors to the new offense, along with a big, experienced line that features returning starters Christian Belman and Nathan Jones. Potomac posted a 13–3 victory in last year’s meeting.
TABB AT JAMES MONROE, 7
The reigning Region I champion Yellow Jackets begin defense of their title against a team they blasted by 39 points last season. All-state CB Julian Bumbrey is slated to start in place of regular QB DeMontaz Brown, who is coming back from a knee injury. Bumbrey will lead a revamped, but talented, spread offense that includes plenty of speed and athleticism. Veteran LBs Eric Nelson and Tony Scott are ferocious hitters for the defense, which boasts six returning starters.