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Every football team, like any performer on any stage, gets opening night jitters. Week-one games, many times, are determined by which team makes the least mistakes.
The most experienced unit on the field at Patrick Henry Friday night was the Hanover Hawks defense. That experience showed, carrying new head coach Derek Stoudt to his first win as varsity head coach, with a 22-0 shutout over the Patriots in front of a large crowd at Patrick Henry High School.
“Our gameplan defensively was to play assignment football, take away all the gaps,” Stoudt said.
The Hawks (1-0) started strong on the opening drive of the game, as their brand new offense made an early statement, scoring the season’s first touchdown on a four-play, 55-yard drive capped by quarterback Korbin Bordonie’s 30-yard strike to wideout Jalen Elliott, Elliott running the final 25 yards into the end zone. The PAT was blocked, and the Hawks led 6-0.
After a three-and-out on Patrick Henry’s first possession, a Connor McKee punt only went two yards, giving the Hawks the ball at the Patriots 37. Hanover drove to the PH 5, but the Patriots defense stiffened, forcing the Hawks’ Austin Garrison to kick a 25-yard field goal to advance the lead to 9-0 with 5:05 left first quarter.
“We pretty much spent the first half trying to figure out who we are going to be as a football team,” Stoudt noted.
With Bordonie their new quarterback, Elliott joining the returning Josh Harris at wide receiver and an all-new backfield of Brooks Coombs and Rayvon Birden, it was an entirely new look on offense for the Hawks.
That offense found paydirt once more before halftime, Bordonie rolling out to find returning tight end Brennan Gary on a 9-yard touchdown strike. Another missed PAT made the intermission score 15-0 Hanover.
For Patrick Henry, Chesdin Harrington, in at quarterback for the injured Tyler Phelps who was out with a sprained ankle, completed his first seven passes in the first half. But the Hawks’ defense gave up those yards begrudgingly, always stopping Patrick Henry when it mattered most. That script stayed to form in the second half, as Hanover’s pressure up front forced Harrington either to throw early or to escape the pocket and take off running on many occasions.
Meanwhile, the Patriots could never find an answer for the running game. Multiple tailbacks tried and failed to gain traction. Bender Vaught was their leading rusher at just 20 yards.
The last touchdown, and only score of the second half, came on the feet of Coombs on a 4-yard run with 7:15 left in the game. Coombs, a junior who converted from outside linebacker, finished with 19 carries, 134 yards and the score.
“He’s a typical Hanover running back, gets his shoulder squared, hits the holes that are there and just runs,” Stoudt said. “He’s worked his tail off all summer. I’m very happy for Brooks.”
Hanover’s home opener is Friday at 7 p.m. against J.R. Tucker. The 2013 State Group AAA Boys Baseball Champion Hawks will receive their state title rings at a halftime ceremony. Patrick Henry (0-1) hope to get Phelps back at under center and Harrington back to his wideout position in time to travel Friday to take on Atlee (1-0). (The Patrick Henry at Atlee game can be heard Friday night at 6:30 on WHAN, 102.9 FM and 1430 AM, and online at HanoverCountySports.net.)
The Raiders raised eyebrows all over the landscape formerly known as the Central Region, giving Deep Run (0-2) their worst defeat in their 11-year school history, 70-14, in Atlee’s season opener.
The team that lost a 2,500-yard passer and 2,000-yard rusher to graduation was led by a returning offensive line, perhaps the best in Central Virginia. They opened holes for Loumoud Dandridge (146 yards, two rushing TDs, one receiving) and protected new quarterback Reid McCoy, who passed for 259 yards and four touchdowns.
The Raiders amassed 629 yards of total offense, scoring 21 points apiece in each of the first three quarters. It was 42-7 at halftime.
The Raider defense, much maligned after giving up 399 points in 10 games in 2012, held Deep Run quarterback, and college prospect, Jack Click to 118 yards passing and one touchdown. The Raiders will be a prohibitive favorite against Patrick Henry Friday night.
Meanwhile, Lee-Davis began 2013 with a road trip to Stafford County to battle Mountain View, a team coming off a 42-7 loss at Varina before Labor Day. Their undersized, second-string freshman quarterback, Ahmad Tweedy, threw for 187 yards and two touchdowns and the Wildcat defense held off a late Confederates comeback to knock off Lee-Davis 28-21.
The Wildcats took an early 14-0 lead on a touchdown pass and a 52-yard fumble return by Dontey Branch. Donald Kidd’s first rushing touchdown cut the deficit at halftime to 14-7. Blake Stattelman and quarterback Brandon Sulser each had touchdown runs in the second half, the latter cutting the lead to 28-21, but Lee-Davis could come no closer. Stattelman led the Confederates with 103 yards rushing on 30 carries, while Sulser completed 10 of 25 passes for 163 yards through the air.
Lee-Davis will hold its home opener Friday night against Mills Godwin (0-1) at 7 p.m. When the original Virginia High School League master schedule was released early this summer, this game was listed as being at Mills Godwin. That was a mistake. Lee-Davis will be home this Friday night.