Lee-Davis football returns tough for fall season

The Lee-Davis High School Varsity Football team.

The Lee-Davis High School Varsity Football team (Candid Color Photography).

They’re blue collar. There’s nothing fancy. If you’re looking for offense called by poster board, you won’t find it at Lee-Davis High School.

Under head coach Zac Hayden, the Confederates have quietly become one of the toughest teams in what was known as the Central Region. They’ve knocked off favored county rivals, put scares into powerhouses, and made the playoffs the last two seasons. They look to do more of the same in 2013.

Brandon Sulser, who had a solid, serviceable season last year as sophomore quarterback, returns stronger and more experienced. His go-to receiver was Austin Rice, who returns for his senior season. It will be critical for Sulser to have more reads and show ability to be more of a passing threat this season.

One reason is the loss of running backs Deshaun Rogers (Randolph-Macon) and Jordon Prentiss to graduation. Junior Blake Stattelman returns and could be the answer at tailback. The tougher task will be replacing Chris Simpson, now at Appalachian State. Simpson exemplified Lee-Davis toughness with his 371 carries for just under 2,000 yards in 2012. That production must be replaced.

The good news is Lee-Davis’ offensive line is very experienced. They did receive an early blow when senior Andy Ordaz underwent hernia surgery. He will return near the end of September if all goes well. Fellow seniors Blaine Shifflett, Dillon Pearson, Ryan Cross and Andrew Sergent will line up for the Confederates in front of Sulser and company.

Defensively, Pearson and Cross will join Dallas Cosby on the defensive line, but the player to watch up front, and maybe out of all 11 players, is senior Donald Kidd. Kidd showed great prowess along the line last year, running down opposing tailbacks and giving opposing quarterbacks headaches.

The linebacking corps will miss the departed Mark Reisenweaver, an anchor of the 2012 defense. Rice, Sam Newsome and Evan Hockensmith are some names Confederate fans may get to know very well at linebacker this season.

In the secondary, the likes of Stattelman could be joined by DJ Petty, Tim Hewlett and Colin Stone. They may lack overall height, but will make up for that in crisp defending and smart tackling, two hallmarks of a Hayden-coached team.

Stephen Hall returns to handle the kicking and punting duties after a strong sophomore campaign. Stattelman, who returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in last year’s Tomato Bowl win over Patrick Henry, will most certainly see time on the return team.

Lee-Davis finished last year 7-4, falling to Hanover in the regional semifinals. Having their season end a game short of a region championship game for a second straight year will serve as more than ample motivation.

The new VHSL reclassification places Lee-Davis in the Class 5A South Region. With 16 of 28 teams making the postseason, a solid .500 season would put the Confederates back in the playoffs. Don’t overlook Lee-Davis. That mistake was made by many each of the past two seasons. There are many holes to fill, but Hayden and his staff always seem to find the athletes willing to do whatever it takes, even if it’s not flashy, to find success on the gridiron.

Lee-Davis begins the 2013 season Sept. 6 in Stafford County against Mountain View.

Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:13 am