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Table of Contents LOCAL HIGH SCHOOLS Broadway......................................4 East Rockingham .........................7 Harrisonburg ................................10 Luray.............................................12 Page County .................................14 Spotswood ....................................16 Turner Ashby ................................18
LOCAL UNIVERSITIES/COLLEGES Bridgewater College .....................20 James Madison University............22 University of Virginia .....................26 Virginia Tech .................................28 West Virginia University ................30
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2019 SCHEDULE 8/30 Fluvanna County Home 7:30 p.m. 9/06 Skyline Away 7:00 p.m.
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10/25 Rockbridge County Home 7:30 p.m. 11/2 Spotswood JMU 11:00 a.m.
11/8 Waynesboro Away 7:00 p.m. Broadway’s Nate Tinnell (2) leads the Gobblers during practice earlier this month.
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Gobblers Willing To Do Whatever It Takes To Win By CODY ELLIOTT Daily News-Record BROADWAY — When Danny Grogg sat down with assistant coaches Aaron Reed and Max Hrasky after getting hired in January, he said there was one thing he preached to them. “I told both of them that we’re going to be as balanced as we can be,” Grogg said. It’s the ideal situation for any coach, but Grogg — who is entering his first year as the Broadway head coach after five seasons as an assistant — insisted that his team won’t rely on one facet of the game to be successful. “On the other end of that, if we see something we like, we’re going to attack it,” he said. “It’s not going to bother me
if we feel like our advantage is on the outside and we have to throw it a little bit more. We’re going to take what teams give us. If we can run on a team, we might be more run heavy. If we can pass more, we’ll throw it.” It hasn’t always been that simple for the Gobblers on offense in recent year. Broadway was known as a run-heavy, physical team through the majority of former coach Brad Lutz’s tenure, but switched to a pass-happy team last season. “I feel like we can hit teams in multiple ways, for sure,” BHS senior quarterback Caleb Williams said. “We kind of want to be balanced. We feel like that’s a good way to take on every team because they
never know what is coming. With the talent we’ve got, I just feel like it’s going to be a really good year. Everyone is dedicated to what we’re doing, buying in to what the coaches are telling us.” In order to do what they want offensively, Grogg said the Gobblers need to establish the offensive line, which has been easier said than done throughout the preseason. Broadway coaches were hoping to run a two-platoon system along the offensive and defensive lines, but remained unclear if that would be possible entering the first game. “We only started one offensive lineman [in the scrimmage against East Rockingham] that started last year and there were a lot
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“If we can’t do that, we’re not going to sacrifice the team’s success because of that,” Grogg said. “We’re trying to figure out what we want to do with it right now and I think that’s what your first two scrimmages are for. Everyone is trying to figure out how good everybody is.” One of the strongest points of the Gobblers offense is the wide receivers. With senior David Thew and junior Nate Tinnell leading the way, Broadway’s receivers are among the best in the entire Valley District this season. “I think the sky is the limit for our group,” Tinnell said. “We have a lot of talent and we all work really hard. We’ve come a long way and we’re nowhere close to finished. The sky is the limit for us.” Tinnell said the group is confident, but not cocky. He said Broadway as a whole is entering this season with a lot more faith.
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2019 BROADWAY ROSTER No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 20 22 23 24 25 26 27
Name David Thew Nate Tinnell Caleb Williams Cameron Showalter Landen Stuhlmiller Christian Morgan Timothy Lapp Courtland Wilt Cole Hoover Coy Thompson Christian Nicklow Ryan Anderson Brody Carr Daniel Zelaya Jeremiah Lapp Brade Smith Isaiah Marsh Jesse Armentrout Jake Buchanan Skyler Delawder Daniel Ott Josh Crummel Andrue Maul Savanah Copenhaver Garrett Moyers
Year 12 11 12 10 10 12 11 10 10 10 10 10 10 12 12 10 11 10 12 11 11 11 10 10 11
No. 30 32 33 44 45 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 60 61 63 64 65 70 72 73 74 88 99
Name Anthony Calewarts Mason Morris Cason Surratt Mohamad Badawa Nathaniel Hotchkiss Elijah Kirby Brent Hulse Silas Caldwell Geffrey Simmons Tyler Warlitner Bryant Kile Anthoni Simmons Jacob Juarez Oscar Cruz Sanchez Dominic Torres-Johnson Kay’shawn Wenzel Mike Molina Nava Vincent Buhl Matthew Tyner Hayden Sherman Yee Ung Eric Dumler Conner Poff Lucas Benavides Erik Cantrell
Year 11 11 10 12 10 11 12 12 10 10 10 12 11 11 10 12 11 10 11 10 11 10 10 11 12
6 “It plays a huge role,” Tinnell said. “If you’re not really close with everyone in your locker room — if it’s divided and y’all aren’t a unit — it’s not going to work. It doesn’t matter what type of offense you run. I think the chemistry in our locker room will help us a lot with whatever we want to do.” BHS running back Christian Morgan, who is returning the Gobblers after taking a year off, agreed with his teammate’s sentiments. “I think everyone is really confident,” Morgan said. “We’re a tight-knit group. We’re all friends, all joke around with each other. We’re all really close and I think that’s a really big key to success. Having that tight-knit of a group, especially with how many kids we have and all the new players, it’s big. We’ve become friends
with them and everyone is just coming together.” And while the players said they know their capable of finding success in both the run and the passing game this season, they admitted they aren’t sure which one they’ll do more. “We’ve been together for so long,” Williams said. “We’ve been waiting to
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play on the varsity level for the longest time. To now finally be able to put it all together and show everybody what we’ve been working on is great. I feel like we’re going to make a pretty good run with everybody we’ve got.”
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2019 SCHEDULE 8/30 Spotswood Home 7:00 p.m. 9/13 Riverheads Home 7:00 p.m. 9/20 Buffalo Gap Away 7:00 p.m. 9/27 Clarke County Away 7:00 p.m. 10/4 Stonewall Jackson Home 7:00 p.m. 10/11 Strasburg Away 7:00 p.m. 10/18 Page County Home 7:00 p.m. 10/25 Rappahannock County Away 7:00 p.m. 11/2 Luray JMU 4:00 p.m. 11/8 Madison County Home 7:00 p.m.
Left: Trenton Morris listens as East Rockingham coach Donnie Coleman ends practice. Right: Tyce McNair listens as East Rockingham coach Donnie Coleman ends a day of practice earlier this month.
Eagles Looking To Stay Defensive In 2019 By CODY ELLIOTT Daily News-Record ELKTON — It’s been a steady climb for the East Rockingham defense. The Eagles have made the playoffs eight straight seasons, but it wasn’t until recently that they were able to rely as much on the defensive side of the ball as their offense. “Our staff is top notch,” ERHS coach Donnie Coleman said. “That’s where it starts. But our kids have also bought into the mentality. We had to get tougher mentally, physically. If we were to compete in the Shenandoah District, you had to stop the run. “The overall commitment to the offseason training and bringing [defensive coordinator] Kyle [Gillenwater] on board was a blessing. I have four defensive coaches. All they concentrate on is stopping people.” While East Rock will no longer play in the Shenandoah this season and deal with the task of stopping run-heavy offenses such as Stuarts Draft, Wilson Memorial and others on a regular basis, the Eagles’ first season in the Bull Run District will
still provide plenty of challenges. such as Luray and Clarke County or Whether it be traditional Wing-T teams
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Strasburg with quarterback Chase Hart — a William & Mary commit — leading the charge for the Rams, there’s no shortage of teams that can put up points in a hurry on the Eagles’ schedule this year. “Every year, our points per game have been going down steadily,” East Rock linebacker Colton Dean said. “We have an excellent coaching staff there on the defensive side of the ball. We just have tremendous players on that side of the ball and we get after it.” The past two years have seen the biggest increase in terms of how well the defense has played on a statistical level and it especially showed during the Eagles’ run to the Virginia High School League Class 2 semifinals last season. In 2018, East Rock gave up 15.1 points per game — an all-time low for the program. ERHS senior linebacker Trenton Morris credited the coaches for the growth.
“They work their butt off every day,” he said. “They’re always trying to find something new to do on defense and offense. They’re just so talented on so many levels. It’s hard to explain how many things they can do with the defense we have now.” Coleman said he had to give credit to the players, however, for their willingness to better themselves in the summer and their commitment to the weight room. “When you look at our front seven right now, all of their pants fit,” Coleman said. “They are good-looking kids. They’ve worked hard to physically get themselves ready to play and that’s a big bonus for our football team.” It’s an iron-sharpens-iron approach for the East Rock players with a standard now being set around the program after last year’s historic run, they said. “We might not have the big players like we had last year in terms of size and all
that,” Dean said. “But this team has a lot of chemistry, I think, and that’s one of our biggest weapons this year. I mean, we’ve been playing with each other since we were 4 and 5. We know what everyone else is thinking when times get tough and stuff. “We know what we need [to win] based off last year. We know what our practices need to be. Last year, we took it day by day. Every game, our record was 0-0. We just wanted to win one game at a time and that’s how it’s going to have to be this year.” Quarterback Tyce McNair faces the Eagles defense more often than anybody else. He said he has a lot of respect for what the unit is able to do on a consistent basis. “It’s a great defense,” McNair said. “Coach [Gillenwater] does a really good job of making sure everybody is on the right page, doing the right assignments.
He does such a great job with them. Our defense is really good and it helps me as a quarterback. When I face other defenses that are good like ours, I will be prepared. It just helps me a lot.” This season will be McNair’s first as the team’s starting signal-caller and he said having a defense as strong as East Rock’s gives him some comfort on the other side of the ball. “It puts me in a great position,” McNair said. “I know defense wins games and all of that. If the defense is doing good, our offense is doing good. There’s not many times where our defense is doing good and our offense won’t do as good. If they’re stepping up and getting the stops they need, I think our offense will put up points on the board.” One of the biggest keys to the defense this year will be the play of Morris and Dean at the linebacker spots as a pair of returners with a good deal of playing
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experience last year. The two veterans are considered the leaders of the defensive unit and have a special chemistry that allows them to communicate more efficiently on the field, Morris said. “Our linebackers this year are pretty much the same as last year,” Morris said. “We have that experience. We know what to do, how to get the line set. Some of the younger guys need that. We’re good role models and show them how to do this, do that. It really helps the defense as a whole this year.” Coleman said it’s been fun to watch the defense improve in recent years. He said it has changed the mentality at East Rockingham and provided the offense more of a challenge in practice, which will make the entire team better as a whole. “Our practices kind of amped up a little
bit,” Coleman said. “Our kids know the system, understand the system. There are fewer and fewer mistakes. It’s just a mentality. When you look at our team, we have a bunch of kids that look like linebackers. They can run, run in space. They’re tough kids.” The Eagles certainly aren’t done improving, Dean said, as the group is hoping to have its best year yet in 2019 with an array of new faces mixed with veteran seniors. He said if they are able to do that, East Rock will be primed for another big season. “We set our standards high at East Rock,” Dean said. “We’re just working on accomplishing them. In order to do that, we just have to take it slow. Our goal right now is to win Week 1 and we will go from there.”
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Year 12 12 11 10 12 10 12 10 10 10 10 12 12 11 12 11 12 10
No. 26 32 44 51 52 54 62 63 64 65 66 70 74 75 77 78 79
Name Colby Price Jamarcus Davis Ethan Mitchell Mark Carter Christopher Bertrand Jared Price Nathanial Bradley Colby Miller Benjamin Good Ronnie Conley Fred Gooden Teriek Sweet Zachary Shifflett Joseph Carrickhoff Blake Veney Hunter Kisling Taylor Wilfong
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2019 SCHEDULE 8/30 William Fleming Away 7:00 p.m. 9/06 John Handley Home 7:00 p.m. 9/13 Charlottesville Away 7:00 p.m. 9/20 Albemarle Home 7:00 p.m. 10/04 Sherando Home 7:00 p.m. 10/11 Waynesboro Away 7:00 p.m. 10/18 Broadway Home 7:00 p.m. 10/25 Turner Ashby Away 7:00 p.m. 11/02 Rockbridge County JMU 1:00 p.m. 11/08 Spotwood Home 7:00 p.m.
Go Streaks! Blue Streaks’ senior Kwentin Smiley stretches during the first day of high school football practice earlier this month at Harrisonburg.
Blue Streaks The Great Unknown Entering ‘19 By CODY ELLIOTT Daily News-Record
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HARRISONBURG — Until you play somebody, you don’t know. During a time when teams are preparing for the season with daily practices, workouts and by going over film, Harrisonburg coach Chris Thurman said it’s the actual games that will reveal what each team is capable of this year. “You’ve got to give them as many reps as you can give them,” Thurman said.
“Everybody is learning. In practice, we try to get as many reps in as we can. But until they actually get out there and see the game speed, you just don’t know.” For Thurman, who is in his ninth year coaching the Blue Streaks, this year’s training camp has been focused on learning about the flurry of youth on the roster. With several key pieces graduated from a team that fell in the opening round of the Region 5D playoffs a year ago, Thurman has focused on the fundamentals so far.
“We don’t look bad,” Thurman said. “We haven’t played anybody, but we’re getting there. We’re a work in progress right now, but we’re getting there. I’m pleased with the kids’ effort. The kids — they’re working their butts off. They’ve been a pleasure to coach so far.” Harrisonburg’s willingness to work hard this preseason has both Thurman and the veteran players excited about the abilities of this year’s team. One of the biggest names returning for the Streaks is senior quarterback
Kwentin Smiley, who raved about what the younger players have brought to the table this offseason. “I like how we all work as a team,” Smiley said. “We act more as a team. We’re together more than we were last year. Last season, some of us would rather have a good individual year than a good season for the team. This year, everybody works together and we all have the same goal.” Mateo Peric, a Division I recruit at kicker, is another senior for Harrisonburg that has stepped up in terms of leadership and is trying to help the underclassmen learn. He agreed with Thurman that the only way to get better is by getting reps. “I’m really just as confident as I can be,” Peric said. “I always try to stay confident. Each day, it’s just reps on reps on reps. I try not to think about it when I’m out there. I try to just let it come to me second nature. It’s gotten easier I’ve gotten older. With my confidence, my skill and just knowing that coaches trust me, it just gives me more confidence.” Peric is arguably the best kicker in the Valley District and said his confidence has grown throughout the years because of his coaches supporting him along the way. That’s something he said he struggled to gain when he first started kicking. “They’ve really just preached to me to just keep doing my thing,” Peric said. “I’ve just got to trust the holder, trust the snapper, trust the team and get down there on the coverage. I’ve just got to keep doing what I did last year and just do my thing to help out the team as much as I can.” Now, Peric said he’s been trying to help out those young players like he once was. “I know how it felt to be that underclassman who felt shy to do anything, didn’t want to get any reps,” Peric said. “Since I’m not
out on the field much as a kicker, I try to be on the sidelines and just interacting with the team, get them in there. I try to get them acclimated to the environment and get them comfortable because if they’re comfortable, they’ll perform better.” Isaiah Hamilton is one of the names that stood out on both sides of the ball this preseason, according to Thurman, and will likely see time at safety and running back. He said even as a junior, he has stepped up this season and been more comfortable. “It’s been fun teaching the younger guys,” Hamilton said. “Last year, everybody was teaching me. Now they’re all gone, so it’s up to me to help show everybody. The younger players are starting to step up and we’re starting to really build that chemistry.” There’s still plenty of work to do for the Streaks, but Peric said he likes what he has seen so far. “Every single day, there is an improvement in some aspect of our team — special teams, defense, offense, scout team — everybody is putting in 100 percent,” Peric said. “These younger kids want to get out on the field and these older kids wants to stay out on the field. It’s just always good competition.” And while Harrisonburg won’t know what it has until it steps on the field for opening night, Smiley and Thurman both said they think they’ll like what they see once they do. “I think we could have a pretty good season this year,” Smiley said. “We’ve just got to see how it goes, work hard and take practice seriously. We’ve just got to have a great year and try to win some games.”
2019 HARRISONBURG ROSTER No. 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 23 24 35 36 37 40 41
Name Keenan Glago Jose Ayala-Castro Malachi Davis Dunstan Williams IV Alexander Maclin Artem Artemenko Khylik Smiley Kwentin Smiley Ryan Muncy Xavier Cain Isaiah Hamilton Trevon Whetzel Elijah Pinedo Trevyon Jackson Mateo Peric Jazen Walker Tyrell Foster Guillermo Lopez Mejia Xander Collazo Caleb Garcia Dylan Burnette Aaron Smucker Alejandro Spitler Joshua Jackson DeVondre Austin
Year 10 12 12 11 11 12 10 12 11 10 11 11 11 12 12 11 10 10 11 10 10 11 10 11 11
No. 42 44 50 53 54 55 56 59 60 66 67 70 72 73 76 80 82 85 86 88
Name Nyaz Mamund Jaylin Smith John Jackson Jr. Jaydon Jackson Kane Wilson Giovany Rodriguez Dante Edwards Selassie Fields Jan Carlos Moyet Mustafa Adel Elohim Roque Vizcarrondo Joel Alvarado Beverly Braxton Dominic Fields Yahir Garcia Alvarado Marquez Sly Alberto Rosado Joshua Denar Emilzon Vasquez-Acosta Tre Butler
Year 10 12 12 12 12 11 10 10 11 12 10 9 11 10 11 11 11 10 11 12
2019 SCHEDULE 8/30 Central Home 7:00 p.m. 9/06 Wilson Memorial Home 7:00 p.m. 9/20 Page County Away 7:00 p.m. 9/27 Madison County Home 7:00 p.m.
Luray senior Patrick Porter (shown felxing after a tackle for loss in the playoffs against R.E. Lee last fall) returns to anchor the Bulldog defense from his linebacker spot this season.
10/04 Stuarts Draft Away 7:00 p.m. 10/11 Clarke County Home 7:00 p.m. 10/18 Rappahannock County Away 7:00 p.m. 10/25 Stonewall Jackson Away 7:00 p.m. 11/02 East Rockingham JMU 4:00 p.m. 11/08 Strasburg Away 7:00 p.m.
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Luray Ready To Take The Next Step By TRAVIS LONG For The Daily News-Record LURAY — Coming off an 8-4 season that saw Luray advance to the regional semifinals, the level of enthusiasm surrounding the Bulldogs football squad is on the upswing. “Everyone is excited about the potential of our football team. The expectations are high and we look forward to the challenge” of the new season, said LHS coach Nolan Jeffries, whose team went finished 5-3 in the Shenandoah District, topped R.E. Lee (now Staunton High), 28-23, in the first round of the Region 2B playoffs and eventually fell to Central, 6321, in the regional semis. This fall, the Bulldogs face an allnew challenge with a move to the Bull Run District from the Shenandoah — joining Page County, East Rockingham
and Stonewall Jackson as former Shenandoah District schools to make the jump. Gone from the schedule are Augusta County schools such as Stuarts Draft, Buffalo Gap and perennial power Riverheads. (Luray still does play Wilson Memorial in a non-district contest this fall.). Those familiar foes will be replaced with the likes of Clarke County, Rappahannock County, Strasburg and Madison County — the latter two of which LHS defeated last season. Despite the slightly altered slate, Jeffries said not much has changed with how the Bulldogs are approaching the upcoming season. “Our goal is to take the season one day at a time and prepare for the opponent that is next on the schedule,” he stated. “It will be nice that teams in the Bull Run are closer in proximity to allow for shorter
bus trips.” With Luray returning loads of production on offense, those trips may not turn out as nice for its opponents looking to stop the Bulldog offense. A trio of backs, including second-team all-district performer and senior Timmy Trudell, junior Austin Holloway and senior Dylan Atkins, as well as junior quarterback Dalton Griffith, all return for LHS. “This group rushed for close to 4,000 yards combined on the ground last season,” said Jeffries, who also pointed to junior Jaden Couper, senior Gavin Taylor and senior Elijah Dale as potential contributors in the backfield this season. Paving the way up front for the ball carriers will be seniors Caden Speaks, Dakota Stoneberger, and Hayden Campbell. “Underclassmen Cameron Good, Josh Lafrance and Tyler Pence also look to play a major role,” said Jeffries. “Patrick
13 Porter, Dominic Harrison and Ethan Strate will be reliable blockers and pass catchers at tight end.” With the potential to pile up points from a powerful offense, the Luray defense is also looking to make a name for itself behind several solid returners. “Defensively, we will look to the senior leadership of Hayden Campbell and Porter at inside linebacker to lead the charge,” said Jeffries. “They will be supported by a strong defensive line that is both athletic and strong. Defensive ends Gavin Taylor, Trudell, and Tyler Pence should prove to be a strong force,” Jeffries said. “Strate, Tylor Dahnert and Atkins will compete at outside linebacker. I look for junior Jaden Couper to make an impact in the defensive backfield, along with classmates Griffith and Holloway.” Luray got its first taste of live action against an opponent on Aug. 16, when the Bulldogs traveled to Parry McCluer. LHS also scrimmaged Skyline on Aug. 22, before opening the season on Aug.
30, at home against Central, which is also on the move and shifted from the Bull Run District to the Class 3 Northwestern District this season. The Bulldogs’ first Bull Run District contest will come against perhaps its most familiar foe — a Sept. 20 game on the road against rival Page County, who Luray defeated 30-6 last season. Regardless of who is on the schedule, Jeffries said the Bulldogs’ explosiveness and veteran leadership are assets that will help LHS remain very competitive and excel this fall. “I believe that the strengths of our football team will consist of good team speed, experience and our players have a strong desire to succeed for one another and their community,” he said. “We are looking forward to the upcoming season and we really hope the community will come out and support us. Our student athletes have worked extremely hard and they are looking forward to making the community proud this fall.”
No. 21 5 79 44 4 35 11 50 8 71 59 51 7 47 29
2019 LURAY ROSTER
Name Dylan Atkins Alex Bogner Aidan Campbell Hayden Campbell Jaden Couper Mason Cubbage Landen Dahnert Tylor Dahnert Elijah Dale Devon Flick Cameron Good Jerry Gregory-Ryan Dalton Griffith Dominic Harrison Austin Holloway
Year 12 10 10 12 11 10 10 12 12 10 11 10 11 12 11
No. 14 55 56 53 84 9 10 58 63 34 3 27 24 2
Name Landen Jerde Logan Keyser Josh LaFrance Devon Lam Bryan Owen Lebron Payton Patrick Porter Caden Speaks Dakota Stoneberger Ethan Strate Allen Stull Gavin Taylor Timothy Trudell Jordan Windle
Year 10 10 10 11 11 10 12 12 12 12 11 12 12 12
Luray quarterback Dalton Griffith tries to break free from a R.E. Lee tackler during a playoff game in Staunton last fall.
Luray’s Timmy Trudell finds a hole in the line of scrimmage and breaks through for a gain in a game against Page County last fall.
2019 SCHEDULE 9/06 Nelson County Away 7:00 p.m. 9/13 Wilson Memorial Home 7:00 p.m. 9/20 Luray Home 7:00 p.m. 9/27 Strasburg Away 7:00 p.m. 10/04 Bath County Away 7:00 p.m. 10/11 Rappahannock County Home 7:00 p.m. 10/18 East Rockingham Away 7:00 p.m. 10/25 Madison County Home 7:00 p.m. 11/01 Clarke County Away 7:00 p.m. 11/08 Stonewall Jackson Home 7:00 p.m.
Page County coach Joey Soltis looks on as Trevor Williams works in a tackling drill.
Familiar Names Return For Page By TRAVIS LONG For The Daily News-Record
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17 South Broad Street, Luray, VA
SHENANDOAH — After just missing out on the playoffs last season, Page County returns plenty of production to the gridiron and will be looking to take the next big step into the postseason this fall. The Panthers tallied a 4-6 record a season ago and ranked ninth in the power ratings for Region 2B, from which the top eight squads made the postseason. Page County finished just a game behind Wilson Memorial, which went 5-5 and won a close 30-22 contest over the Panthers last season — underscoring just how close PCHS was to a postseason bid. Page, which is joining East Rockingham, Luray and Stonewall Jackson in moving
from the ultra-competitive Shenandoah District (in which the Panthers went 2-6 last fall) to the Bull Run District, aims to leave no doubt when it comes to this season’s playoffs. “We are a confident team that is expecting to win,” said Panthers coach Joey Soltis. “Practice is going really well,” he added. “Our players are practicing hard and we are having a lot of competitive battles. Our depth will be a strength and I expect to have major contributions from a lot of players this season.” Many of those contributors will be well known to Panther fans. Linebacker Tristan Gordon (second team all-region, first team all-district) returns to anchor the defense, with linemen Wyatt Hensley and John Higgs expected to fill
big roles as well. “Having almost everyone back from last year is evident, especially on defense,” Soltis said. “Tristan Gordon has had a good camp so far and with Wyatt Hensley and John Higgs, the middle of our defense should be tough this year.” On offense, quarterback Trey Knight returns following last fall’s campaign when he was named first team all-district and second team all-region as an allpurpose performer. Gordon (second team all-region and second team alldistrict along the offensive line) returns up front to protect Knight, while second team all-district wide receiver Trevor Williams is also back and gives the Panthers a legitimate deep threat on the outside. “Offensively, Trey Knight has looked
A 2019 PAGE COUNTY FOOTBALL ROSTER WAS NOT AVAILABLE AT PRESS TIME.
Page County coach Joey Soltis demonstrates a technique to defensive backs during a practice session.
good so far and has been firmly in charge of our offense,” Soltis said. “Mikey Cash at halfback and Trevor Williams have also looked really good thus far. We also have had several new additions who have looked good through our first week of practice.” The experience gained from last season has carried over into this summer’s early practices, offering Soltis and the Panthers to move at an accelerated pace in preparing for the upcoming regular season. “Since we have so many players returning from last season, we have been much further ahead of where we have been the past several years,” Soltis said. “We have been emphasizing effort and execution this week.” Page has a bye the first week of the regular season, so the McCluer scrimmage will be the first chance to hit the field — while other local squads will already have a
contest under their respective belts. “This will also be their second scrimmage, which means they should give us a good measure of where we are at,” Soltis said. “The only negative to starting a week late is that when we play at Nelson County (Sept. 6) that will be their second game and it will be our first. A lot of times you Page County defensive backs work on theri technique during a practice session. see a big jump in execution between your first and second game. That is why our performance in our scrimmages will be very important.” The Panthers also will play in a benefit game at Fort Defiance on Aug. 29 “That should enable us to hit on all cylinders for the first game,” Soltis said. “Overall, starting late has been good because it let our players enjoy the summer vacation more as well. I think it is still important to let a kid be a kid.”
2019 SCHEDULE 8/30 East Rockingham Away 7:00 p.m.
9/06 William Monroe Home 7:00 p.m. 9/13 Western Albemarle Away 7:00 p.m. 9/20 Monticello Home 7:00 p.m. 9/27 Wilson Memorial Home 7:00 p.m. 10/11 Rockbridge County Away 7:00 p.m. 10/18 Turner Ashby Home 7:00 p.m. 10/25 Waynesboro Home 7:00 p.m. 11/02 Broadway JMU 11:00 a.m. 11/08 Harrisonburg Away 7:00 p.m.
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Spotswood’s Ethan Barnhart during the first day of Trailblazers’ practice earlier this month in Penn Laird.
Spotswood QB Ryan High during the first day of Trailblazers’ practice in Penn Laird.
Senior-Laden Blazers Ready For More
By CODY ELLIOTT Daily News-Record PENN LAIRD — Ryan High stood in the pocket and, after scrambling around for a few seconds, eventually tucked the ball to his side, realizing there wasn’t a receiver open. “Yeah,” Spotswood linebacker Cole Myers said. “How’d that feel, Ryan?” It’s that type of back-and-forth trash talk between the Trailblazers that has been a trademark of training camp this season and one fourth-year coach Dale Shifflett said is helping them improve. “That’s what we’re doing right now,” Shifflett said. “We’ve talked every day about bringing energy and talking back and forth with each other. That’s what makes it fun in practice and makes it go by a little faster. It also makes us more competitive. “I think the more competitive we are in each of these sessions, when you get
some guys jawing back and forth, that makes things competitive and makes everybody go harder. We’re kind of scooting around telling our guys to do that because it makes everybody else to want to get better as well.” It’s a unique approach to practice, but one the players have enjoyed thoroughly. Spotswood linebacker Ben Conahan said things never get too chippy, but the competition between the players is helpful for all involved. “As an overall team, that’s what we want,” Conahan said. “We want to go out there and compete with everybody. It’s a constant reminder that our season is about to start. We’re playing for each other and we’re about to play some really good teams.” Last season, the defense made a name for itself during a historic season. The Trailblazers won their first Valley District championship since 2013 and
finished with nine wins on the season — the most during Shifflett’s tenure as head coach. “It was really special,” SHS defensive lineman Colby Morris said. “To be able to say you’ve accomplished something that’s only happened three times in history, that’s something that brought a whole lot of honor back to Spotswood. We’re good now. We have shown how much we’ve stepped up our program. It’s a big motivation to build even more to it, go after bigger stuff this season.” Spotswood gave up 14.2 points per game last season while going 9-2 and losing to Liberty-Bedford in the opening round of the Region 3C playoffs. There were eight different games where the Trailblazers gave up two touchdowns or less. “Our guys have been completely 100 percent dedicated to what we’re doing,” Shifflett said. “We did a lot of stuff in
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the offseason and this is probably the furthest we’ve been in the playbook on both sides of the ball this early. We’ve been able to add a couple wrinkles, try some new things. We’ve been focusing a lot on technique and getting better at that. That’s one of the things our guys have really bought into now. We’re able to just concentrate on getting better fundamentally at things and I think that’ll make us a better football team.” One of the biggest reasons Morris said the team played so well defensively is the amount of experience it has and the chemistry between the players. With 20 seniors on the roster, the Trailblazers are aware of how each other plays and have built what Morris calls a special connection that shows on Friday nights. “It’s a big team feel,” Morris said. “We don’t really get shook often because we’ve been together since the beginning.” Conahan agreed with Myers, saying the defense needs every player to handle their job accordingly in order to work successfully as an entire unit. “It’s one of the most important things about the defense,” Conahan said. “That defense is a machine, basically. If one person doesn’t know what to do, they can ask around. Anybody can answer. We all know what to do. It goes through me and Myers, but all in all, that’s a defense that knows what everybody is doing. That’s just what an elite defense is.” Spotswood started off on a bad note last year, giving up 34 points in a seasonopening loss to East Rockingham. “I feel like the experience we have goes a long way,” Conahan said. “Last year, we started timid and you could see it. This year, I feel like our start will be different. It will be better and I think it’ll show down the line.” The Trailblazers reeled off nine straight wins after that loss to ERHS, but Shifflett
said that still left a bad taste in the mouths of the 20 seniors that have never beat the Eagles during their varsity careers. “It’s great to have those preseason rankings, great to get everyone interested in football,” Shifflett said. “But the most important ranking is at the end of the year. You can hype that stuff up all you want, but the bottom line is it’s where you finish at the end of the year. That’s what we have to be looking toward. None of our kids on this team have ever started 1-0. That’s what we’re focusing on right now.” Spotswood enters 2019 as arguably the best team in the Shenandoah Valley. With plenty of experience and several standouts from a year ago back, the Trailblazers are also well aware that they have a much bigger target on their backs this season. “We do have to change our mindset,” Morris said. “We’re very used to being the team that’s the underdog. We’d look in the paper before the game and it’d say we’re picked to lose this game. Being on the opposite side of that, it’s something we’ll have to change. I feel like guys our adapting well to it. They have a confident attitude, but not cocky.” The friendly banter in practice is keeping the competitive juices flowing for the Trailblazers for now, Morris said, and that’s been beneficial for everyone involved. But once the lights come on Aug. 30, the players said they know they will turn away from competing with each other and join together to accomplish their common goal. “I gives me a lot of confidence knowing they have my back,” High said. “I go against those guys every day in practice and they’re unbelievable. They fly around, their communication is great. It’s nice knowing they have my back.”
2019 SPOTSWOOD ROSTER No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 15 16 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 31 32 33 35/54 42
Name Robert Smith Jack Meck William Rosas Quentin Hayes Colton Good Connor Williams Ryan High Fernando Rivas-Martinez AJ Dooms Ryan Shonk Sam Polglase Andrew Moomaw John Van Huss Mekhi Collins Josh Raynes DC Lubin Casson Gates Tate Martin Tyler Stobbs Ethan Barnhart Noah Burtner Cole Grindle Ben Conahan Dillon Taylor Jr. Cole Myers Dameyon Simmons Thomas Holsapple
Year 12 12 12 12 12 11 11 12 11 11 11 11 12 11 12 10 10 10 11 12 10 11 12 10 12 10 10
No. 43 44/52 45 46 51 55 58 61 65 67 68 69 70 71 73 74 77 78 79 80 82 83 84 88 89 99
Name Andrew Foltz Hunter Armentrout Josue Cortes Baylor Robinson Matt Medlin Parker Harris Kaleb Luker Fernando Otzoy Tyler Gaylor Noah Parker Josue Alonso-Simon Ryan Duncan James Ritchie Genesis McCornell Camden Gray Dallas Khalil Brody Robinette Colby Morris Evan Atkins Levi Godshall Kweli Wilson Jeremiah Morris Alfonso Romero Emmet Shank Andrew Caldwell Cy Alderman
Year 11 11 12 11 11 10 12 12 10 11 12 10 10 10 10 12 10 12 11 12 11 11 11 11 12 11
Spotswood’s Ben Conahan during the first day of Trailblazers’ practice earlier this month in Penn Laird.
2019 SCHEDULE 8/30 William Monroe Away 7:00 p.m. 9/06 Western Albemarle Home 7:00 p.m. 9/13 Monticello Away 7:00 p.m. 9/20 Staunton Home 7:00 p.m. 10/04 Wilson Memorial Away 7:00 p.m. 10/11 Broadway Home 7:00 p.m. 10/18 Spotswood Away 7:00 p.m. 10/25 Harrisonburg Home 7:00 p.m. 11/02 Waynesboro JMU 6:30 p.m. 11/08 Rockbridge County Away 7:00 p.m.
Turner Ashby’s C.J. Haskins runs through drills during the Knights’ first day of practice in Bridgewater.
Turner Ashby coach Chris Fraser watches during the Knights’ first day of practice in Bridgewater.
Knights Lean On Seniors For Turnaround By CODY ELLIOTT Daily News-Record BRIDGEWATER — C.J. Haskins has seen glimpses of what it could be. And the Turner Ashby senior quarterback said the thought rejuvenates him each time. “It gives me confidence,” Haskins said. “It should give the other guys a good state of mind to know, ‘Hey. We were in those ball games. This year, we’re stronger and can win those types of ball games.’” The Knights are coming off back-toback two-win seasons under coach Chris Fraser, but have confidence that a turnaround is on the horizon in 2019. TA has its fair share of experience, with a trio of seniors in Haskins, Grant Swinehart and Jessie Knight leading the way, and that’s the difference, according to Fraser. “Our seniors have grown up and they’re helping everyone along,” Fraser said. “To
me, that’s the biggest thing because I believe we have some guys who can play football, be really good players.” Haskins said it’s been an adjustment being the high man on the totem pole this season, but it’s one he, along with the rest of the Knights seniors, have embraced. He said that knowing it’s their final season playing together is motivation enough to push them to find success. “It started to hit us that this is our senior year, our last ride almost,” Haskins said. “It’s kind of making us prepare and play harder, I feel like. It’s making us get more out of our younger guys. We’re telling them, ‘Hey. We’re done after this, so we’d appreciate it if you’d play your heart out and do your best.’ It’s helping us get a lot of our teammates.” Swinehart called the bond between the TA seniors a “special connection.” It hasn’t been just the veterans providing a spark for the Knights, however, with several newcomers joining the roster this
year after several seasons away from the sport. “They’ve brought a lot to the table,” Knight said. “It’s good to have them back out. It’s almost like we’re back in rec league again.” Knight said he’s been pleased with the effort of his younger teammates this season. “It’s actually been going pretty good,” Knight said. “There’s been some things happening that you’d never expect. We’ve had some underclassmen step up. We’re just trying to keep everybody ready to go, keep ‘em hype. You can tell it’s our senior year. The whole team is depending on you, wants you to do your best. They just want us to go out with a bang.” Fraser agreed with Knight and said the team’s effort throughout the preseason is as good as he has seen during his three years coaching at Turner Ashby. He said the program chose three core values to focus on this season — integrity,
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courage and loyalty — and has seen glimpses of all three throughout training camp. “I think we’re really getting there,” Fraser said. “The thing I’m happiest about is our kids’ attitude and effort … Every day, we make an example out of something. When we went down to scrimmage and lined up against [Lord] Botetourt, those cats were huge. Our kids knew that going in, but the thing I was happiest about is our guys’ effort. They stuck their noses in there to hit and nobody shied away from anything.” Finding consistency this season is the biggest key to a turnaround, Swinehart said. In order to do that, he said the Knights need to remain focused on the little things. “I think it’s just taking it one game, one play at a time,” Swinehart said. “We can’t get too worried about later down the road. We have to just focus on one play, one practice at a time and not hanging our heads on anything. We have to stay positive.” Knight agreed with his fellow senior captain. “We just need to give our all during practice, go through our playbook, watch film as a team,” Knight said. “We have to figure out where our weaknesses are and work every day to improve on them. If we do that, we’ll be pretty consistent. Everybody just needs to be on the same page.” When Haskins looks at TA, he said he sees a team that needs confidence. He said he’s seen what the Knights are capable of and now it’s time to do it regularly. “The past couple of seasons have been off years and it’s just important to us to forget about that and go into the games this season with confidence that we are a good team, which we are,” Haskins said.
“We can’t let the past affect our future. “The guys coming back have been in those places. Even though, the past couple of years, we haven’t come out on top, with our growth and maturity this year, I feel like we’re prepared to make a decent run this year.” If the wins start coming, Fraser said that will bring a boost to the future of the program as well. “Every program I’ve coached, we’ve tried to get things turned around and that’s the biggest key: winning games,” Fraser said. “You get the fence-riders out, the kids who are sitting there in the hall saying, ‘Eh. I don’t know if I want to be part of 2-8.’ When you start winning games, they come out of the woodwork and that helps a lot.” And while Fraser may be excited about the future, he said he was also optimistic about his current team and what it can accomplish with some minor adjustments on the field. The Turner Ashby seniors have seen what it can be at times. Now they’re ready to show everyone else. “I think we’re all really excited to get started,” Swinehart said. “I think we were there a lot of times last year. We just have to finish those games.”
No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 15 20 21
2019 TURNER ASHBY ROSTER Year No. Name
Name Jalin Quintanilla Grant Swinehart Brandon Onestak Peyton Rathbun Nico Valle Samuel Shickel Addison Simmons Dylan Eppard Aiden Keesee C. J. Haskins Charles Doughty Jared Peake Nick Boychenko Adam Harmes Wyatt Campbell
10 12 12 10 12 10 10 10 12 12 10 11 11 10 11
24 25 31 43 44 50 51 52 54 58 61 65 72 77 81
Noah Miller Wesley Gregory Marini Spirollari Kaden Heatwole Cortland Andrews Jack Rhodes Jared Eye Will Childs Kyle Stephenson Dakota Lambert Jessie Knight Jacob Barnette Jay Longcor Christian Hubbard-Evans William Harrison
Year 10 10 11 10 9 12 12 11 12 10 12 11 11 10 11
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GRANDVIEW EQUIPMENT Good Luck Teams! Turner Ashby’s Grant Swinehart stretches during the Knights’ first day of practice in Bridgewater.
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2019 SCHEDULE 9/07 Gettysburg Home 7:00 p.m.
9/14 Stevenson Away 7:00 p.m. 9/21 Shenandoah Away 7:00 p.m. 9/28 Southern Virginia Home 2:00 p.m. 10/12 Hampden- Sydney Away 1:00 p.m. 10/19 Ferrum Home 2:00 p.m. 10/26 Washington and Lee Away 1:00 p.m. 11/02 Emory & Henry Away 1:00 p.m. 11/09 Randolph- Macon Home 1:00 p.m. 11/16 Guilford Home 1:00 p.m.
Bridgewater’s Re’Shaun Myers (52) takes his place on the line during a practice drill.
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BRIDGEWATER -- Expectations are higher, both for the team and personally for Bridgewater College’s Re’Shaun Myers. After being picked to finish last in the 2018 preseason Old Dominion Athletic Conference poll, the Eagles were an overtime loss away from claiming the league title, thanks in no small part to the emergence of Myers as one of Division III’s top linebackers. Now Myers is on most preseason AllAmerican lists heading into 2019 and Bridgewater is considered among the
favorites to win the ODAC. “I’m just looking forward to getting into the season right now,” Myers said. “I just want to keep working hard and lead by example because my teammates need me.” Myers, a former Dan River High School standout who began his career at Coastal Carolina before coming to Bridgewater in 2017, made 85 tackles last season, including 9.5 for a loss. He also became known for causing havoc for opposing offenses and it was his stripsack that sparked a 20-point comeback win against Shenandoah that helped turn the season around for the Eagles last fall.
This season, Bridgewater will once again rely on the defense to make big plays and avoid the big gainers against it that sometimes cost BC in 2018 and Myers presence is something opposing offensive coordinators will always have to account for. “On defense we are seeing more energy and of course they are expecting more out of us,” Myers said. “We have to lead by example. I’m soaking it all in, but I’m trying to keep it like last year because you still have to put in the work to do better than last year. There is some pressure on me, but pressure makes diamonds.” Myers leads what could be the ODAC’s
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best linebacker unit with Gary Ramey and Deshomd Denny also returning. The trio combined for more than 200 tackles and 10.5 sacks last season. “Last season kind of left a good taste in our mouth, the way we finished,” Ramey said. “But sort of a bad taste at the same time because we were one game away from winning the conference. A lot of people are hungry and kind of mad that we let that game get away, so this offseason we were taking no games for granted. I believe we have the best linebacker group in the conference and we’re eager to show it.” For Bridgewater coach Michael Clark, a former defensive coordinator at Virginia Tech now entering his 25th season leading the Eagles, it helps shape up one of his favorite kinds of squads to coach. “Philosophically, I kind of take the approach that is you play great defense and work hard and put great athletes to gain an advantage in the kicking game, and just don’t turn the ball over on offense, you will have an opportunity to win the game in the fourth quarter.” The Eagles will get an opportunity to put that to the test when they take the field at home against Gettysburg on Sept. 7.
That night Bridgewater will also honor the 2001 NCAA Division III runner up squad as the athletic department’s first Team of Distinction, what will become an annual honor for select Bridgewater squads of the past.
Bridgewater’s Jay Scroggins talks with teammates during a break in practice.
Go Eagles! Bridgewater runs the ball during practice.
Bridgewater coach Michael Clark talks with his team during a break in practice.
2019 SCHEDULE 8/31 West Virginia Away 2:00 p.m.
James Madison University
9/07 Saint Francis Home 6:00 p.m. 9/14 Morgan State Home 4:00 p.m. 9/21 Chattanooga Away 4:00 p.m. 9/28 Elon Away 2:00 p.m. 10/05 Stony Brook Away 6:00 p.m. 10/12 Villanova Home 1:30 p.m. 10/19 William & Mary Away 3:30 p.m. 10/26 Towson Home 3:30 p.m. 11/09 New Hampshire Home 3:30 p.m. 11/16 Richmond Home 3:30 p.m.
11/23 Rhode Island Away 12:00p.m.
James Madison tight end Nick Carlton, left, hits a pad held by fellow tight end Dylan Stapleton during a drill.
Frisco Of Bust For Touted Dukes By GREG MADIA Daily News-Record HARRISONBURG — It’s Frisco or failure, at least according to the players at James Madison. “There’s no reason for us not to make it to the national championship with the amount of talent we have on this team,” Dukes senior linebacker Landan Word said.
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JMU embarks on its mission to reach the FCS title game for the third time in four years and win it all for the second time in that span on Saturday when the Dukes kick off their 2019 campaign at FBS West Virginia. A new coach isn’t a strong enough excuse not to get to Toyota Stadium for the Jan. 11 pinnacle — the pollsters, upperclassmen on the roster and first-year headman, Curt Cignetti, himself don’t see any reason
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why transition should get in the way with 20 of 22 offensive and defensive starters returning from last year. “We have to be humble and hungry, and scratch and claw and have great intangibles as a team,” Cignetti said. “If we do that, we’ll have a chance. We have no self-imposed limitations.” The Dukes begin the year ranked No. 2 in the STATS FCS Top 25 and were tabbed as the favorites to capture the
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Colonial Athletic Association crown. Cornerback Rashad Robinson, punt returner D’Angelo Amos, right tackle Liam Fornadel and defensive end Ron’Dell Carter were named preseason All-Americans by STATS FCS, and those four, plus linebacker Dimitri Holloway and safety Adam Smith, were named to the preseason All-CAA team. “But if we think we’re a great football team that is going to rely on talent alone,” Cignetti said, “then we’ll be brutal in the face of adversity. That’s my job, to create those intangibles and that mindset to get everyone thinking alike.” Word, one of seven FBS transfers on the roster, agreed with Cignetti. “Potential is the biggest thing that’s been on my mind the whole time because we have all the talent in the world,” said Word, who racked up 56 tackles over seven games after bouncing back from
a preseason collarbone injury last year. “The amount of talent on this team is absurd. And so for me, to get everyone to reach their potential and even for me to reach my potential is the absolute most important thing for this team because we’re going to choose how far we get in this season. We’re going to choose that in practice, off the field and in meeting rooms. “Everyone has to reach their full potential for that to happen and I’m confident in that. I’m confident that we have a group of guys that want it just as bad as I do and that don’t want to end the season the way we did last year.” The Dukes finished 2018 with a 9-4 mark when they lost 23-20 on a last-second field goal in the second round of the FCS playoffs at Colgate. It was the last game for former coach Mike Houston, who led JMU to its second national title in school
history in 2016, before taking the same job at East Carolina. “I would say last year we were a little inexperienced,” spur Wayne Davis said. “And a lot of us were first-year starters and we were going off what JMU did the years before. A lot of us didn’t have meaningful reps the year before that, but now most of us have been starters, so we know what to expect now. That’s the difference.” Of course, Davis and the defense are adjusting to a new scheme just like quarterback Ben DiNucci and the offense are. Word said first-year defensive coordinator Corey Hetherman’s four-manfront system requires defenders to know the responsibilities of their teammate next to them more than the previous defense did. DiNucci said he thinks first-year offensive James Madison quarterback Ben DiNucci looks coordinator Shane Montgomery’s offense to throw during a drill at training camp.
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24 allows the quarterback to play more freely. DiNucci threw for 2,275 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and ran for 433 yards and nine scores last year. “I love what Coach Cignetti and Coach Montgomery have put together,” DiNucci said. “It’s kind of a combination of things they’ve both done in the past. It gives the quarterback freedom in terms of what they’re able to do, so they’ve done a really good job of molding the offense to the guys we’ve got back and the guys I have around me. “And we’ve got a lot of experience back, a lot of guys on the offense that have played ball and have a lot of game experience. It makes my job easy when I don’t have to do too much and I can just get the ball to those guys and let them do their thing.” The only starters gone from last year are
cornerback Jimmy Moreland, a seventhround pick of the Washington Redskins in this past April’s NFL Draft, and a trio of veteran running backs - Cardon Johnson, Trai Sharp and Marcus Marshall - that shared the majority of carries. Moreland is replaced by Robinson, who is healthy after missing all of last fall with turf toe, and the combination of Percy AgyeiObese and Jawon Hamilton will take on a large workload at running back this season. “The big picture is national championship,” Davis said. “But it’s really just going 1-0 each week. Our biggest enemy is ourselves. “And I think that’s what makes a great team. It’s the teams that are able to focus through stuff like that. That’s what’s going to make us great. If we can continue to stay focused, we’ll have a great team and we’ll have a great season.”
James Madison safeties Adam Smith, right, and Wayne Davis work against each other during a drill.
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James Madison linebacker Mike Cobbs makes a one-handed catch for an interception.
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University of Virginia
8/31 Pittsburgh Away 7:30 p.m. 9/06 William & Mary Home 8:00 p.m. 9/14 Florida State Home 7:30 p.m. 9/21 Old Dominion Home TBA 9/28 Notre Dame Away 3:30 p.m. 10/11 Miami Away 8:00 p.m. 10/19 Duke Home TBA 10/26 Louisville Away TBA 11/02 North Carolina Away TBA 11/09 Georgia Tech Away TBA 11/23 Liberty Home TBA
11/29 Virginia Tech Home TBA
In this Oct. 27, 2018, file photo, Virginia’s wide receiver Hasise Dubois (8) breaks past several North Carolina defenders for a score during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers have to identify the playmakers most likely to fill the voids left by the graduations of Olamide Zaccheaus and Jordan Ellis. Enter Hasise Dubois and Joe Reed, the top returning receivers from a year ago.
Perkins, Virginia Facing New Challenge — Expectations CHARLOTTESVILLE (AP) — The arrival of dual-threat quarterback Bryce Perkins helped Virginia exceed expectations last season. Now the Cavaliers face a new challenge: meeting higher expectations this season. The Cavaliers are the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division to never win the title, but media members impressed by Perkins and their progress a year ago tabbed them as the division favorite this season. That’s new for Virginia, which had been picked to finish last five seasons in a row.
Perkins, a junior college transfer, is the primary reason. He proved to be one of the more dynamic players in college football last season, throwing for 2,680 yards with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and running for 923 yards and nine scores. The Cavaliers finished 8-5, including a 28-0 bowl game shutout of South Carolina. The quarterback said the Cavaliers welcome the higher expectations. “We definitely have the talent and we definitely have the mindset, too,” he said.
In coach Bronco Mendenhall’s system, anything outside the team’s control is viewed as interference, and Virginia being selected as favorites was among the first things he addressed before practice began. “We’re just treating any expectations in terms of projections as basically interference. It just gets in the way of what we are really trying to do,” he said following their first practice. Offensively, the Cavaliers need to find replacements for almost exclusively used tailback Jordan Ellis (1,026 yards,
27 10 TDs) and program receptions career record-holder Olamide Zaccheaus (93 catches, 1,058 yards, nine TDs). On defense, nine starters return to a unit that allowed 330 yards per game last season, 20th nationally, and just 20.1 points per game, 21st nationally, led by cornerback Bryce Hall, who led the nation with 22 pass breakups and emerging linebacker Charles Snowden. Here are some things to watch for during Virginia’s upcoming season: 12-MAN OFFENSE Perkins’ running ability essentially gives Virginia a 12-man offense because he can throw it or take off at any time, but that will only be true if the Cavaliers can replace Ellis’ production. He and Perkins accounted for about 90 percent of the team’s rushing total last year, and Mendenhall would like PK Kier (26 carries, 82 yards) or someone else to emerge as the primary ball carrier. Three-
star freshman Mike Hollins might also contend for the job. KICK IT GOOD Mendenhall finally found a reliable SAFETY OUTLET placekicker in Brian Delaney, who made Zaccheaus caught a bunch of short 12 of 16 field goal tries with a long of 46, throws last season, then turned them into but Delaney came out of spring practice more with his speed and elusiveness. as the top punter, too, and Mendenhall is The emergence of speedy Joe Reed hopeful that Nash Griffin might be ready (25 catches, 465 yards, seven TDs) or to take that job before the Cavaliers open someone else in that role would help. on the road at nemesis Pittsburgh on Hasise Dubois (52-578, five TDs) has Aug. 31. been used primarily as a possession receiver but can also be a deep threat. MENTAL GAME Virginia showed great bounce-back CHARLES IN CHARGE last season when, after a crushing 15th Junior linebacker Charles Snowden was consecutive loss to Virginia Tech, they one of the Cavaliers’ most improved beat South Carolina 28-0 in the Belk players last season and made big Bowl. Success followed by expectations In this Saturday Oct. 13, 2018, file photo, strides toward being a better pass can be tricky to navigate. Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins (3) warms up prior to the start of the Miami-Virginia rusher by adding more than 30 pounds Said Perkins: “Let’s not have it take a NCAA college football game in this offseason. At 6-foot-7, he’s long and loss for us to get back to that level of Charlottesville. fast and he averaged 4.7 tackles with competitiveness.” 7.5 tackles for a loss, 2 1/2 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes broken up.
In this April 6, 2017, file photo, Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall talks to a fellow coach after spring football practice at their indoor facility in Charlottesville.
In this Nov. 10, 2018, file photo, Virginia’s Joe Reed (2) breaks away for a touchdown on the opening kickoff in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Liberty, in Charlottesville. As the start of fall practice approaches, the Cavaliers have to identify the playmakers most likely to fill the voids left by the graduations of Olamide Zaccheaus and Jordan Ellis. Enter Hasise Dubois and Joe Reed, the top returning receivers from a year ago.
2019 SCHEDULE 8/31 Boston College Away 4:00 p.m. 9/07 Old Dominion Home 12:00 p.m. 9/14 Furman Home 12:00 p.m. 9/27 Duke Home 7:00 p.m. 10/05 Miami Away TBA 10/12 Rhode Island Home TBA 10/19 North Carolina Home TBA 11/02 Notre Dame Away 2:30 p.m. 11/09 Wake Forest Home TBA 11/16 Georgia Tech Away TBA 11/23 Pittsburgh Home TBA 11/29 Virginia Away TBA
In this Oct. 6. 2018, file photo, Virginia Tech quarterback Ryan Willis (5) warms up prior to the start of an NCAA college football game in Blacksburg.
Hokies Look To Rebound After First Losing Season Since ‘92 BLACKSBURG (AP) — Virginia Tech’s first losing season since 1992 has coach Justin Fuente and the Hokies looking for a bounce-back campaign. If they can pull it off, they’ll likely feature a balanced attack with offense having as much of an impact as Bud Foster’s young defense. Fuente has not anointed incumbent Ryan Willis as the starting quarterback, but he
was one of the bright spots last season after replacing the injured Josh Jackson in the third game of the season — a stunning loss at Old Dominion. Willis, a transfer from Kansas, threw for 2,716 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The touchdown pass total is the second-highest in program history. “I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about improving every day, being the
best player I can be so this football team can be the best it can be,” Willis said of his competition with four others for the starting job. Experience may be one of his advantages in the competition. Jackson transferred following the season, as did Eric Kumah, the team’s second-leading receiver with 42 catches for 559 yards and seven touchdowns.
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29 The Hokies finished 6-7, their first losing season since 1992 when the team finished 2-8-1 in Hall of Famer Frank Beamer’s sixth season. Fuente attempted to put a positive spin on the disappointing season, saying the offseason highlighted how much there was to be proud of despite the record. “We also know that last year was not good enough. But there’s also an element of pride in what our kids did accomplish when faced with a tremendous amount of adversity,” he said, most notably a slew of injuries. The Hokies have added motivation to be better this year to honor Foster. The longtime defensive coordinator whose units have been at the forefront of the Hokies’ rise in stature nationally announced before the start of fall practice that this would be his last year on the
OFFENSIVE LINE The Hokies lost three senior starters off last season’s line and, while some young players gained experience because of injuries, the effectiveness of many line units comes from consistency and chemistry. A potentially intriguing addition PLAYMAKERS Wide receiver Damon Hazleton proved a to the mix is 6’6, 333-pound T.J. Jackson big-play guy last season with 51 catches a junior who has played sparingly thus far for 802 yards and eight touchdowns, but Kumah’s departure means others MOTIVATION will have to rise up. The top candidates The “win for Bud” mentality is noble and appear to be sophomore wideout there are 10 starters back on defense, but Tre Turner (26-535, four TDs) and the unit is still young and the Hokies open sophomore tight end James Mitchell, a on the road at nemesis Boston College 6-foot-3, 230-pounder who drew raves on Aug. 31. Starting strong could build IS IT WILLIS? from Fuente during spring practice. He some momentum. Starting poorly could Fuente favors a short passing game played special teams last season but jeopardize their nation’s best 26-year bowl streak. more than a running attack, and while could become a prominent player. Willis demonstrated numerous times last season a willingness to sacrifice staff. Last season, with injuries taking a heavy toll, Virginia Tech was exceedingly young and struggled on defense, allowing 31 points per game. In four of their losses, including 49-35 at Old Dominion, the opponent scored 45 points or more. “I think there is a level of hunger and eagerness on our team to get back out there and try to rewrite the script or redefine our identity from a year ago,” Fuente said on the day before fall practices began. Here are some things to watch with Virginia Tech this season:
his body for first down yardage, and has more experience than the other four contenders combined, the other four are dual-threat players who would add a new dimension to the offense.
Left: In this Oct. 6, 2018, file photo, Virginia Tech wide receiver Sean Savoy (15) has a pass from quarterback Ryan Willis (5) knocked away by Notre Dame defender Jalen Elliott (21) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Blacksburg. Notre Dame safeties Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott had 162 tackles, 12 passes defended and four forced fumbles between them. Above: In this Nov. 23, 2018, file photo, Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente directs his team during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Blacksburg.
West Virginia University 2019 SCHEDULE 8/31 James Madison Home 2:00 p.m. 9/07 Missouri Away 12:00 p.m. 9/14 North Carolina State Home 12:00 p.m. 9/21 Kansas Away TBA 10/05 Texas Home TBA 10/12 Iowa State Home TBA 10/19 Oklahoma Away TBA 10/31 Baylor Away 8:00 p.m. 11/09 Texas Tech Home TBA 11/16 Kansas State Away TBA
11/23 Oklahoma State Home TBA 11/29 TCU Away 3:30 p.m.
This Friday Nov. 24, 2018, file photo shows Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown (5) being tackled by West Virginia safety Josh Norwood (4) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va.
Brown’s Task Is To Keep West Virginia Rolling
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — New coach Neal Brown has a tall task as he tries to prevent West Virginia’s perennially prolific offense from turning pathetic. Brown was hired from Troy in January to take over for the departed Dana Holgorsen and inherited a roster lacking proven stars. Gone is record-setter Will Grier and four of the top five wide receivers from last season. Brown still must decide on a starting quarterback. The defense was decimated by defections a few months into his tenure. “From an install standpoint, we’re still throwing a lot at them,” Brown said. There are plenty of questions, including how to come close to averaging last year’s 512 yards of offense, which ranked eighth in the nation and second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma. Throughout the summer the easygoing Brown has hosted players by position at
his house for dinner. There have been team-bonding competitions in cornhole, basketball and ax throwing. The hashtag motto for this year’s team is “Trust The Climb,” one that could take some time. “We’re going to be a young football team and I think our fan base understands that and there’s going to be some patience,” Brown said. But he’s been concerned at times about his players’ attitudes early in camp. “If you do little things right and you prepare and you work hard, good things are going to happen,” he said. “But I think the opposite is also true. If you’re not mentally prepared, if you’re not taking care of your body, if you’re not focused on details ... you will be exposed.” Here’s some other things to know as West Virginia prepares for its Aug. 31 season opener at home against FCS James Madison:
BROWN’S PEDIGREE Brown went 35-16 in four years at Troy. Like Holgorsen, Brown is a descendant of the pass-happy Air Raid offense tree that stems from former Kentucky coach Hal Mumme and Washington State’s Mike Leach. Brown was quarterbacks coach at Texas Tech from 2010 to 2012. He then was offensive coordinator at Kentucky for two years before being hired at Troy as one of the youngest head coaches in the FBS. QB RACE Oklahoma graduate transfer Austin Kendall learned Brown’s system in spring practice, but the coach has yet to anoint Grier’s replacement. Kendall attempted 39 passes behind two Heisman Trophy winners over two seasons. He’s up against 6-foot-6 Jack Allison, a junior who started last year’s bowl game after Grier sat out to focus
31 on the NFL draft, and redshirt freshman Trey Lowe. Jarret Doege transferred from Bowling Green this spring and is seeking to become eligible immediately.
about his depth at running back. Kennedy McKoy led the Mountaineers with 802 yards and eight TDs last season. Also returning are Martell Pettaway (623 yards), Leddie Brown (446 yards) and SAFETY QUANDARY Alec Sinkfield, whose 2018 season was Safeties Kenny Robinson and Derrek cut short by a leg injury. Pitts left the team in the spring. Robinson started 20 games in two seasons, had TOUGH SCHEDULE a team-high four interceptions and West Virginia has a difficult path to was second in tackles with 77 as a becoming bowl eligible. The Mountaineers sophomore. The Mountaineers also lost play more Big 12 road games than league four-year starter Dravon Askew-Henry. home games in odd-numbered years, Helping fill the gap will be JoVanni and the home schedule isnâ€™t easy, either Stewart, a linebacker last year, and Josh with the likes of Texas and Oklahoma Norwood, a 2018 starter at cornerback. State. The nonconference schedule is Others who could get significant playing challenging, too, with tests at Missouri on time at safety are Dante Bonamico, Jake Sept. 7 and home against North Carolina Long and Sean Mahone. State on Sept. 14. SOLID AT RB Brown wonâ€™t have to worry so much
This Friday Dec. 28, 2019, file photo shows West Virginia running back Kennedy McKoy during the first half of the Camping World Bowl NCAA college football game in Orlando, Fla.
This Tuesday July 16, 2019, file photo shows West Virginia head coach Neal Brown speaking during Big 12 Conference NCAA college football media day at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
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