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Game Under Review: Hopewell vs. Powhatan

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  • The first 23 minutes of the first half. Over that time span, the Indians played like a team that could possibly vie for a regional title in 2014. The defense did a commendable job of containing quarterback Cameron Hill (aka Johnny Football) and shutting down a receiving corps that featured two pass catchers over 6’4” and enough athleticism to give the Greatest Show on Turf a run for its money. Meanwhile, the Powhatan offense was busy building a commanding lead by utilizing — what else — an electric running game. Logan Allen had 119 yards in the first half alone, scoring all three of his team’s touchdowns over an eight minute span in the second quarter.

    His most breathtaking play was an 85-yard punt return that put the Indians up 20-0 and sent the capacity crowd into a fit of momentary madness. The Indians would hold on to that 20-point advantage until 20 seconds remained the first half. That’s when Hopewell wide receiver Matt Trevilian took a screen pass and bolted 44 yards through the Powhatan defense for Hopewell’s first score.

    Unfortunately for the Indians, Trevilian’s touchdown was a prelude to a Blue Devils offensive explosion in the second half.

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  • The last 30 seconds of the first half and pretty much the entire second half. Nothing went right for the Indians over the final 24 minutes of play. They managed only 40 yards of offense and were unable to find the end zone after scoring at ease in the second quarter. Penalties, which were a slight issue against Midlothian, paid big dividends this week. Powhatan committed 11 in total, including a crucial personal foul call in the third quarter when they were on the verge of breaking a 20-20 tie.

    The height disadvantage in the secondary also came into play. Hill, who was virtually silent during the majority of the first half, summoned his inner Manziel — and his vertically inclined receiving corps — to throw for 200-plus yards and three touchdowns over the final two quarters.  It was A Tale of Two Halves in the truest sense of the phrase, and it can be chalked up to a number of factors, including Hopewell’s incredible depth at the skill positions and Powhatan’s inability to establish a passing game.

Player of the Game

This one is a toss up between a number of individuals, but since the defense sometimes gets overlooked, let’s hand it two players in the Indians’ front eight who had career performances. Senior Nelson Sutton, a 6’3” 230-pound defensive lineman, tallied a team-high 11 tackles and applied solid pressure on Hill throughout the evening. Junior Harrison King, an outside linebacker in his first season as a starter, came away with two sacks and an interception. Congrats, Nelson and Harrison.

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Harrison King

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Nelson Sutton

Quick hits

  • Powhatan did a solid job of defending the run, allowing only 89 yards on 27 carries and no scores.
  • The Indians missed their first extra point of the season in the second quarter, when a Wes Livermon attempt was blocked. Powhatan had been 7-of-7 until that point.
  • Senior Cambrun Graham got the start at quarterback for Powhatan despite the fact that sophomore Reed Kietzman saw the majority of the playing time against Midlothian.
  • Chance Morris, Johnathan Caporale, and Harrison King snagged interceptions.
  • Hopewell quarterback Cameron Hill finished 14/26 for 270 yards, 4 TD and 3 INT.

Looking ahead

The Indians (1-1)  travel to Emporia for a game against former Southside District foe Greensville (1-1) that is coming off a 46-12 win over Weldon (N.C.). Historically, Greensville hasn’t fielded a particularly strong team…that’s especially true over the past three seasons (combined record: 6-23). The Indians have outscored the Eagles 140-24 in three meetings over that time span.

A Few Good Shots: The Hopewell game (All photos by Anjie Henley)

A Few Good Shots: The Hopewell game (all photos by Anjie Henley)

Game preview: Hopewell (1-0) vs. Powhatan (1-0)

Four things to keep an eye on

1. Hopewell’s sophomore quarterback sophomore Cameron Hill has drawn comparisons to Johnny Football from head coach Rick Irby, and based on his numbers from the season opener against Grafton, those comparisons seem entirely warranted. Hill accounted for 348 total yards (226 passing, 122 rushing) and four touchdowns as the Blue Devils thrashed the visiting Clippers 30-7. Grant it, this isn’t the same Clippers team, talent-wise, that ruled the Bay Rivers District in the mid-2000s (Combined record from ‘04-11: 61-27. Combined record in ‘12 and ‘13: 7-14), but putting up over 348 yards is an impressive feat, no matter the opponent.

Having a game-changing athlete at quarterback is nothing new for the Blue Devils. For the past three seasons, Tabyus Taylor - the 30th best player in the state of Virginia in 2013, according to the Roanoke Times - was the engine of the Hopewell offense. The Powhatan defense allowed Taylor to find some running room in last season’s meeting (122 yards rushing, 65 on a touchdown run in the first quarter), but the Indians made up for it by picking off Taylor three times in the fourth quarter (four times overall).

Coaxing Hill, who has a whopping one varsity start to his name, into similar mistakes will likely be one of the main objectives of Ernie Henderson’s defense this week.

2. Who will start at quarterback for Powhatan? Senior Cambrun Graham got the nod against Midlothian last week, but was pulled in favor of sophomore Reed Kietzman in the second quarter. Kietzman spent the majority of the final two-and-a-half quarters under center, heading to the sideline only after the Indians built a commanding 35-0 lead. Head coach Jim Woodson was impressed with Kietzman’s play, praising his composure and awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses.

Though Graham, the starter last season, has proven he can be productive at the varsity level, Kietzman may be the more athletic option. He ran for the first touchdown of his varsity career on a keeper late in the third against Midlothian.

3. With the possibility of having a sophomore under center looming large, the Powhatan running game may be asked to power the offense even more than normal. Luckily, the Indians have plenty of weapons in the backfield. Allen and L.J. Jackson will be the catalysts, of course, but Jonathan Caporale and Cameron Kerr are capable ballcarriers as well, as evidenced by the Midlothian game. Caporale is a speedy flanker-type who is best utilized on jet sweeps and other outside run plays. Kerr, a sophomore h-back, has a bit more heft, and is more effective between the tackles. Also, don’t forget that Allen had one of the biggest games of his career against Hopewell last season, rushing for 205 yards and three touchdowns. The Indians’ faithful would be more than happy if Allen could put on a similar performance in the home opener this Friday.

4. The kicking game, which was expected to be a weak spot for the Indians this season, ended up being a strength against Midlothian. Sophomore Wes Livermon returned to the team late this preseason after considering concentrating on fall soccer. He converted all five of his extra points. The Indians other kicker, Matt Dutton, drilled the one point after he attempted. In a game that is expected to be very nip-tuck, something as simple as converting extra points could make all of the difference.

Prediction

Though Powhatan and Hopewell put on dominating performances in their respective season openers, it’s hard to get a grasp on how strong these teams truly are. Hopewell beat Grafton 30-7 and Powhatan whipped Midlothian 42-0, but both opponents finished the 2013 season with sub-500 records and aren’t expected improve much this season.

It’s easy to tag this game as “Hill vs. Allen,” and while that very well may end up being the main storyline, it would be foolish to ignore the defenses. Neither team allowed an offensive touchdown last week, with Powhatan looking particularly impressive, allowing only 145 yards of total offense. The Indians linebacking unit is as strong as its been in years, and if they can force Hill into taking sacks and making bad decisions, the scales may tip in Powhatan’s favor. But if Hill can get out of the pocket and don his Johnny Football cape with regularity, the Powhatan defense may be in hot water.

That being said, the Indians were not overwhelmed by the dynamic Taylor last season, so don’t expect them to be intimidated when Hill (who is far less experienced than Taylor was last year) and Co. rolls into town tonight.

The Powhatan defense intercepts Hill three times and the Indians beat the Blue Devils for the second consecutive season.

Powhatan 28, Hopewell 23

Game Under Review: Powhatan @ Midlothian

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  • The vaunted Indians rushing attack was at the top of its game against Midlothian. Leading the charge was 2013 all-region selection Logan Allen, who truly looked like a man amongst boys. He rushed for 175 yards on only 13 carries, including two touchdowns. L.J. Jackson filled in when Allen, who will pull double duty on offense and defense this season, needed to head to the sideline for a breather. Jackson isn’t so much a back-up as he is a second starter, a “1A” back, if you will. Like he’s done so many times in the past, he put his explosiveness and keen cutting ability on display, rushing for 81 yards and a touchdown. All told, the Indians averaged over nine yards perry carry for a total of 322 yards.
  • The Powhatan defense did an outstanding job of shutting down every aspect of the Trojans offensive attack. Grant it, the Midlothian offense doesn’t have a lot of weapons, but the Indians defense did exactly what it was expected to do against a team with less talent across the board: it dominated. The first tip of the hat must go to the front eight, which did a tremendous job of clogging the running lanes and keeping speedy back Derick Saunders from finding open space. The front four did a superb job of getting a strong push and Inside backers Elijiah Goode and Lamont Henderson filled the gaps with commendable zeal. The second tip of the hat goes to the secondary, which kept the Trojans receiving corps at bay despite an extreme height disadvantage. Special kudos goes to Jonathan Caporale (5’11”), who broke up several deep passes against a receiver who stood at 6’5”. Thanks partially to Caporale’s efforts, the Trojans completed only five passes for 48 yards. When the final whistle blew, the Indians defense had limited the Midlothian offense to 145 total yards.

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  • The Indians committed far too many penalties (many of which were holding calls), finishing with seven for 64 yards. The high level of self-inflicted damage didn’t have much of a negative impact on the Indians this time around, considering they were much more athletic and fundamentally sound than the Trojans. But next week, when the Indians take on a Hopewell team filled with game-changing athletes, they won’t have enough breathing room to give away a large amounts of free yardage. Of course, it’s natural to chalk up the high volume of penalties to first game anxiety or early-season rust, so let’s go ahead and do that.

Player of the game

The easy pick, of course, is Allen. But I have a strange inkling he’s going to be the front-runner for this distinction pretty much every week this season. So let’s go with sophomore kicker Wes Livermon, who converted all five of his attempted extra points. Livermon handled the kicking duties for Powhatan last season, but wasn’t planning on coming out for the team this year so he could focus on fall soccer. But after some determined coaxing from coach Jim Woodson, Livermon decided to suit up for the orange and black. Welcome back, Wes.

Quick hits

  • Sophomore quarterback Reed Kietzman saw the first action of his varsity career when he replaced senior Cambrun Graham in the second quarter. He scored his first career touchdown in the third quarter.
  • Three quarterbacks saw playing time for the Indians: Graham, Kietzman and Peyton Mawyer, the last of which threw a touchdown pass to Jeremy Arnold in the fourth quarter.
  • Jonathan Caporale returned an interception 38-yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
  • Elijiah Goode had seven tackles. Allen and Lamont Henderson each recorded a sack.

Looking ahead

Powhatan will host a dangerous Hopewell team that thrashed Grafton 30-7 in the season opener. Blue Devils quarterback Cameron Hill, who takes over after the graduation of the venerable Tabyus Taylor, accounted for 348 yards and four touchdowns last week.

A Few Good Shots: the Midlothian game (courtesy of Anjie Henley

A Few Good Shots: the Midlothian game

Game preview: Powhatan @ Midlothian

Game preview: Powhatan @ Midlothian

Four things to keep an eye on

1. Powhatan looked good in its preseason scrimmages, walloping Matoaca by several scores and squeaking by Collegiate (unofficially, of course, considering points are not technically tallied in scrimmages), the latter of which being a state runner-up in VISAA Division I in 2013. Can the Indians carry that high quality of play into the first game of the regular season against Midlothian…a team the Indians mollywhopped 45-10 in the 2013 season opener?

2. If the Trojans are to win this game, they’ll have to do it with their third starting quarterback in as many years. Justin Joyce was the man under center in 2012. Last year, it was a Jordan Bassett…a prototypical pocket passer in terms of stature (6’4) but not production, at least when he took the field against the Indians. The Powhatan defense harangued Bassett for all four quarters, forcing the senior into a serf-like performance through the air (2-of-20, 80 yards, four interceptions). It goes without saying that the Trojans will need a much-improved performance under center if they want to hang tight with the Indians this Friday. Playmaking be damned, all they need is a Craig Krenzel-type (I know that’s an old reference, but 2003 national championship game, anyone?) who can manage the offense efficiently while keeping the ball away from the swarming orange and black defenders.

3. The Midlothian offensive line is, to put it as frankly as possible, massive. All five starters eclipse the 260-pound mark, a rarity in high school football, especially at this level. While size is certainly an advantage, it doesn’t guarantee physicality, much less efficiency. What the Trojans front five possesses in girth, it lacks in experience. But even with that inexperience, the scales may be tipped in Midlothian’s favor, especially after the loss of Justin Stoner, a 276-pound run-clogging leviathan who was expected to start at defensive tackle for the Indians. He will mix significant time with a lower body injury, which is doubly unfortunate, considering he missed a lot of time last season with an upper body injury. As with most games, interior line play will be a major factor in determining the outcome of this one. If Powhatan can compensate for the loss of Stoner, they should be in good shape. If they can’t, this game may be much tighter than expected.

4. Midlothian’s top two receivers, Keyan Gnat and Nate Millar, have Division I size. Gnat stands at a very un-gnat-like 6’4. Millar is 6’5. Next to Powhatan’s two starting corners, L.J. Jackson (5’5) and Jonathan Caporale (5’11), they’re going to resemble those weird elephant-like creatures in that one Salvador Dali painting. Grant it, Jackson and Caporale are highly athletic, but will the height discrepancy be too much to overcome? Don’t be surprised if coach Woodson plugs in someone with a bit more verticality if it looks like the match-up is going to pose issues for the Indians.

Prediction

Yes, the Indians are going to be outmatched, size-wise, by the Trojans’ offensive line and receiving corps. Yes, the game is going to be played in Midlothian, where the Indians lost 29-7 in 2012. But the Indians have looked pretty darn impressive this preseason. And while it’s far from wise to give a close reading to exhibition games, it’s hard not to feel a tinge of excitement about the way the Indians have played. After all, scrimmages can offer at least a glimmer of insight into how a game, or a season, might unfold…

The 2014 season is going to be about a lot of things - it’s Woodson’s 30th at the helm of the program, the Indians are gunning for their 13th consecutive playoff appearance, etc. - but perhaps more than anything else, the spotlight is going to be focused on Powhatan reestablishing itself as a dominant regional force, an identity that was at its peak from ‘02-‘11 (combined record: 110-16, 17-9 in the playoffs) but has since receded over the past two seasons (combined record: 11-11, 0-2 in the playoffs). A win against Midlothian won’t tell us everything we need to know about this year’s team, but it will give us (the fans) a gauge about what Woodson will be working with over the next 10 weeks — and beyond. 

So how will it all go down? L.J. Jackson and Logan Allen each surpass the one hundred yard mark  and the Indians begin the new campaign on the right foot. That might seem like a semi-bold prediction, but it’s certainly not implausible, given the game-changing talent Jackson and Allen possess.

Powhatan 33, Midlothian 14

A Few Good Shots: the Collegiate scrimmage (courtesy of Anjie Henley)

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Season Preview: The Critical Games

Powhatan at Monticello
When: Sept. 26
2013 record: 10-2
Last meeting: Sept. 27, 2013 Monticello 45, Powhatan 19

Make no mistake about it, this is one game that coach Jim Woodson and his boys desperately want to win. The Mustangs have owned the Indians over the last two seasons, winning 45-19 last season and 42-13 in 2012.

A chance at some much-needed redemption could be in the cards for ’14. The Mustangs lost running back T.J. Tillery to graduation, the main player who has given Ernie Henderson’s defense fits here of late.

Monticello also will e replacing quarterback James St. Hill with senior signal caller Daniel Hummel.

The Mustangs’ most notable returner is running back Kyree Koonce. Koonce torched the Powhatan defense for three touchdowns and 175 yards rushing one year ago.

But without Tillery in the lineup, Koonce may get overworked. Monticello’s biggest strength will likely lie in its defense, which returns eight starters from a team that came within a touchdown of beating Northside, a team that went on to capture the Group 3A state title.

Western Albemarle at Powhatan
When: Oct. 31
2013 record: 10-2
Last meeting: Nov. 1, 2013. Western Albemarle 37, Powhatan 36

The Kent Henry era is over at Western Albemarle. For Warriors’ fans, that could prove worrisome. For the rest of the district, his departure could not come soon enough.

Henry, the Warriors’ former do-it-all quarterback, tallied over 10,000 all-purpose yards during his time under center, and has since departed for Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania.

So what’s the next move for the Warriors? To revamp an offense that lost not only the indomitable Henry, but also all five of its starting receivers. Facing an offense so rife with inexperience, the Indians may be in a prime position to break their two-game losing streak against their rivals from Crozet.

Western Albemarle, along with Monticello, has been the class of the Jefferson District for past two seasons, compiling an overall district record of 11-2. The Indians will play the Warriors at home for the first time since ’11, and a victory could go a long way toward helping Powhatan separate from the Jefferson District’s well-populated middle class.

Charlottesville at Powhatan
When: Nov. 7
2013 record: 4-7
Last meeting: Nov. 8, 2013. Charlottesville 28, Powhatan 16

In last year’s regular season finale, the Indians waltzed into Charlottesville wholly convinced they would capture a victory and head into the playoffs with a 7-3 record. But the Black Knights had other plans. They scored two quick touchdowns in the first quarter, then held on as the Indians desparately attempted a comeback.  The unlikely victory propelled the Black Knights into the playoffs for the second consecutive season, where they lost in the first round to GW-Danville.

If Charlottesville has any desire to rekindle the magic they’ve experienced over  the past two seasons, they will have to do so without the help of Chris Thurston, one of head coach Eric Sherry’s most dangerous weapons over the past two seasons.

Thurston, who now plays for Los Angeles Valley, a JUCO (junior athletic college) in California, ran for 1,229 yards and 14 touchdowns as the starting runningback his junior year. He transitioned to quarterback for his senior season and put up solid numbers once again. He ran for 717 yards and 10 touchdowns, while throwing for 400 yards and seven scores.

Thurston was particuarly effective against Powhatan in that regular season finale. He threw only three times, but two went for touchdowns, a 12-yard toss in the first quarter that put the Black Knights up 7-0 and 48-yard heart-breaker late in the fourth quarter that officially doused any plans Powhatan may have had for a comeback.

Thurston was equally effective on the ground. He proved, more or less, that he was a runningback first and a quarterback second, as he tallied 144 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries.

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