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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Eagles on hunt

Colonial Forge was as close as it’s ever been last season in its quest to win a football state championship.

The process has taken years, from becoming consistently competitive against the powerful foes of the Commonwealth District to maneuvering past tough regional heavyweights like Thomas Dale and Hylton, and then last season beating Ocean Lakes in the 6A state quarterfinals.

The mission isn’t complete, however. The Eagles’ expectations remain high, as they hope to clear another major hurdle this year.

“Since we have a younger team this year, we’re going to have to work hard, but I feel like we’re very capable of winning states,” senior linebacker Javon Frasier said.

Colonial Forge—the No. 1 team in The Free Lance–Star’s preseason power poll—is driven by the success it had last year in coming one win away from the championship game and also by the disappointment it felt when it lost 17–0 to Oscar Smith in the state semifinal contest.

“We were stopped by Oscar Smith last year, and we didn’t really like that,” Eagles quarterback Gary Jennings said. “It was kind of disappointing. Of course, it was a good season, but we’re looking to get better and we’re just working hard every day.”

Colonial Forge returns many top players from last year’s team. Jennings will be an asset in every facet of the game. He’ll be the full-time quarterback after sharing the role last year with then-senior Damen Daniel and also start in the defensive backfield. He’ll also be a return man on special teams.

“He’s the leader out there. He’s accepted that role, and he feels comfortable in that role,” Eagles coach Bill Brown said of Jennings, who has received Division I scholarship offers from the likes of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Eagles also return a veteran offensive line, led by junior first-team All-Area left tackle Grant Garza, a three-year starting running back in Remone Miller and big-play threats at receiver.

“Offensively we feel very good. We can run the ball. We can throw the ball. We can big-play it,” Brown said. “We’ve got a lot of options with our offense.”

What about defense?

“That’s a whole different side,” Brown said. “That’s an area where we have really got to see how we’re developing here.”

Jennings and three-year starting safety Alex Welch bring a veteran presence to the secondary, and Frasier is expected to be an impact player at linebacker after moving over from defensive tackle.

Frasier said he’s expecting big things from hard-hitting linebacker Jacob Bradford as well.

“We’ve got a lot of hard hitters on defense, and we have more athletic people in the backfield,” Frasier said. “We have a big line, so we should be good.”

Gaining experience and building depth up front will be important for the defense’s success.

The Eagles are counting on leaders like Jennings and Frasier to help the more inexperienced players get up to speed as the team forges ahead in its quest to win a state championship.

“My role really is big brother, almost,” Frasier said. “I’ve been there, done that since my sophomore year, so I know what to expect from the younger guys. So I’m just really teaching them up, encouraging them and letting them know what they have to do.”

Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442

nwarters@freelancestar.com

 

SCHEDULE

Tonight’s games

W&L at King George, 7

Varina at Mountain View, 7

North Stafford at Petersburg, 7:30

Tomorrow’s games

James Monroe at Stafford, 7

Chancellor at Riverbend, 7

Brooke Point at Briar Woods, 7

Glen Allen at Caroline, 7

Colonial Beach at King & Queen, 7

Colonial Forge at Highland Springs, 7

Courtland at Massaponax, 7

Culpeper at Central (Lunenburg), 7

Eastern View at Charlottesville, 7:30

Spotsylvania at Louisa, 7:30

Saturday’s game

St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes at FCS, 2

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