The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
Prep Football: Wolverine express rolls on
BY STEVE DeSHAZO
If the White House is looking for a re-election campaign strategy, it could do worse than asking North Stafford’s football team for advice.
Less than a month into the season, the incumbent Commonwealth District champions have knocked off three of their top challengers—none more impressively than Friday night’s 48–13 road thumping of Riverbend.
And if the Wolverines can win at Colonial Forge next Friday, they will have dismissed all of their top district rivals before the first presidential debate.
“That’s a buzz saw,” Bears coach Tony DeMarco said in admiration after watching his team fall behind 42–0 at halftime. “They’re an experienced team. That team was not thrown together just this week. That’s been in the making for years.
“They played like a championship team, and we didn’t play well.”
The Wolverines (4–0, 3–0 Commonwealth) clicked on all cylinders in the first 24 minutes. Junior quarterback Von Purvis threw just three times—and completed all three. Two went for touchdowns to Brandon Ravenel; the other was a 50-yard seam pass to fullback Darnell Parker, setting up the first of Kwesie Dadzie’s two touchdown runs.
Dadzie finished with 117 yards on 13 first-half carries before watching the third and fourth quarters from the sideline with most of North Stafford’s starters.
Purvis also gained 89 yards on just eight carries and scored a second-half touchdown.
“They’re so focused on Kwesie, they barely worried about me,” Purvis said. “He’s been running really well, so [defenses] forget about me.”
That may be true, but Wolverines coach Joe Mangano certainly has noticed his first-year starter’s progression.
“It’s just his fourth start, but he’s maturing really fast,” Mangano said. “He’s still a young guy, but he was really focused.”
North Stafford capped the night with a pair of fumble returns for scores: a 30-yarder by Anthony Shegog and a 32-yarder by Joey Slye, after teammate Jae’Wuan Horton flattened Bears quarterback Jamie Deason.
“That was really big,” said Slye, who also kicked six extra points and sent five of his seven kickoffs into the end zone.
“I’ve played with my brother [A.J., who’s now a freshman at Salisbury University]. He played all four years and he never had one [defensive touchdown], so now I’m one up on my brother.”
Shegog might have had yet another touchdown if an inadvertent whistle hadn’t stopped play after he scooped up a first-half fumble with little more than green grass in front of him.
“That’s something we practice—stripping the ball,” Mangano said. “It’s something we go for. We try to get turnovers.”
Throughout the first half, coaches implored the Wolverines to “keep your foot on the pedal”—mindful both of their slow starts in earlier wins over Potomac and Massaponax, as well as Riverbend’s penchant for second-half comebacks. The Bears (3–2, 2–1) had outscored opponents 57–12 in the third and fourth quarters of their previous three victories.
The Bears did enjoy a 13–6 second-half scoring edge against the Wolverines’ reserves Friday night, but it was far too little, too late.
After starting quarterback Eric Byrd left with a first-half knee injury, backup Jamie Deason hit Matt Capozza on a 49-yard touchdown pass, and James Pritchett scored on a 1-yard run.
“We’ve got some great leaders—some of the best leaders I’ve ever coached,” DeMarco said. “They kept their heads up and played hard the whole way.”
Riverbend visits Stafford next Friday.
North Stafford 21 21 6 0 — 48
Riverbend 0 0 6 7 — 13
NS-K. Dadzi 1-yard run (J. Slye kick)
NS-B. Ravenel 20-yard pass from V. Purvis (J. Slye kick)
NS-A. Shegog 30-yard fumble return (J. Slye kick)
NS-run 2-yard run (J. Slye kick)
NS-J. Slye 32-yard fumble return (J. Slye kick)
NS-B. Ravenel 16-yard pass from V. Purvis (J. Slye kick)
NS-V. Purvis 5-yard run (kick failed)
Rb-M. Capozza 49-yard pass from J. Deason (kick failed)
Rb-J. Pritchett 6-yard run (H. Mills kick)
First downs18 12
Rushing yardage38-260 38-114
Passing yardage86 120
Rushing: Riverbend—Eddie Reyes 5-36; James Pritchett 7-30, TD; Jamie Deason 10-24; Zach Sims 8-14; DaVonte Christmas 2-11; Maurice Vincent 1-9; Jordan DeMarco 1-3; Eric Byrd 4-(-13). North Stafford—Kwesi Dadzi 13-117, TD; Von Purvis 9-88, TD; Cedrick Watkins 7-40; Naukym Morton 6-22; Nick Gooden 2-5; Team 1-(-12).
Passing: Riverbend—Jamie Deason 5-10-0 95, TD; Eric Byrd 2-3-0 25. North Stafford—Von Purvis 3-3-0 86, 2TD.
Receiving: Riverbend—Matt Capozza 4-78, TD; Jaymz Jackson 1-20; Zach Sims 1-12; Maurice Vincent 1-10. North Stafford—Darnell Parker 1-50; Brandon Ravenel 2-36, 2TD.
Steve DeShazo: 540/374-5443