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LETTHE(PREP) GAMESBEGIN A

new football season has dawned in the Tri-Cities and surrounding areas, and the 2012 campaign promises to be one of change. Two local teams will take the field under the guidance of new head coaches and one team has revamped its roster by installing a hurry-up offense. Josh Wallace hopes to lead Petersburg High School back into postseason contention, while Remus James attempts to change the culture — and bolster numbers — at Colonial Heights High School. Hopewell coach Ricky Irby has introduced a no-huddle offense into the Central District ranks and the Blue Devils are expected to run a new defensive scheme. Meanwhile, traditional district powers Dinwiddie, Meadowbrook, Thomas Dale and Matoaca are hoping to have reloaded with enough ammo to contend for a coveted championship. Be sure to pick up a copy of The Progress-Index the day following local games and follow new Sports Editor Neil Fuller on Twitter — @NFullerPI — for in-game updates and to see which games are being staffed during the 2012 season. We wish the best of luck to all local coaches, players and fans. Let’s kick off! — Neil Fuller & Court Wills The Progress-Index Sports Staff

PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

Former Matoaca quarterback Michael Birdsong looks for his intended target during a 2011 game against Clover Hill in Chesterfield. Birdsong signed with James Madison on Feb. 1 and will continue his football career with the Dukes. Birdsong guided the Warriors to a 5-5 overall record last season, including a 4-3 mark in Central District play. M2

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Neil Fuller Court Wills Sports Editor, The Progress-Index Sports Reporter, The Progress-Index


PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

The 2012 Petersburg High School football team.

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PREVIEWING PETERSBURG

Crimson Wave are all business in 2012 BY COURT WILLS SPORTS WRITER

ÅSHLEY APODACA/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

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PETERSBURG — While the Petersburg football team has a new coach in Josh Wallace, they have not missed a beat as he has been all about business. With his serious demeanor, Wallace takes the time to both instruct and compliment his new squad as the Crimson Wave take on their first opponent in Danville George Washington on Aug.24. “When we come out here, everything is scripted out. It is run much like a college practice,” Wallace said. “My style is very intense because I expect a lot out of these guys with all of the potential that I see.” Having gotten the job in April, Wallace has chosen his staff as best as he could which has allowed him to breathe a little bit easier knowing that he can trust in what he asks of them to do. “I don’t micro-manage. I tell them what I want and what I expect to have done and if I need to step in that I will,” Wallace said. “I enjoy my coaching staff in that I trust them to coach and learn what their strengths are.” As a new coach, it is hard to sometimes relate to your team but Wallace having a strong but firm personality has been able to develop good relationships with his players in such a short period of time. “I’ve coached at schools that are similar to Petersburg and I am a young guy so I think it’s a great gift that I have that I can relate to these guys through the experiences that I have had in my life,” Wallace said. “I do things that I think they will know in terms of naming plays or using hand signals that they may think is cool. I love being able to relate to the guys because like I have told them before there is a time to laugh and have a good time and there is a time to go to work and be serious.” Over his time getting ready for the upcoming season, Wallace watched a great deal of film to evaluate what he would have coming in this season. “From what I’ve seen I feel positive that if we reach our potential and do what we are capable

of doing, we will be successful. I am a realistic kind of guy and I just want us to go out and compete each week and if we can do that and play our 100 percent than that is all what we can ask for,” Wallace said. Two of the biggest strengths of Petersburg throughout the years has been their toughness and athleticism and Wallace knows that he has both on this team. Despite being inexperience and young on both sides of the football, Wallace knows that with the kind of athleticism this team has that they will be able to compete in every game. “Offensively we are young and inexperienced but we do have a couple of guys that are well-seasoned. They are definitely hard workers and it’s just about making sure that we establish ourselves in a good place and know what we have right in front of us,” Wallace said. “They are all showing signs of improvement in the positions we are putting them in. We only have 35 varsity guys so we are going to have platoon these guys and make sure we put them in the right place.” In terms of defense, the Crimson Wave plan on being aggressive as they are going to run primarily a 3-4 defense where they plan on flying all around. With the players that Wallace does have coming back in Marlo Jones, Markice Street, Quadree Walker, Deontae Price, Levi Jones, Izaiah Reed, Jared Granderson, James Dugger and Preston Lewis, he has instilled upon them to become leaders as well players that perform well on the football field. “You have to show respect for them as much as you want to receive respect from them. I believe that I am fulfilling God’s purpose by giving this team the opportunities that they want to have,” Wallace said. “We all have to start on the same page and so far we are really starting to mesh.” Come Central District season, it will be a fight to the finish line as Petersburg hopes to shake things up a bit against heavy favorites in Thomas Dale, Meadowbrook and Dinwiddie. Petersburg opens its regular season at Danville George Washington and opens its Central District season at home with Thomas Dale.


3 PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2012

2012 Petersburg High Football Schedule AUG. 24 at Danville Washington SEPT. 7 vs. Huguenot SEPT. 14 vs. Gar-Field SEPT. 21 vs. Thomas Dale SEPT. 28 at Colonial Heights OCT. 5 vs. Prince George OCT. 12 at Matoaca OCT. 19 vs. Meadowbrook OCT. 26 at Hopewell NOV. 9 at Dinwiddie

PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTOS

Senior Preston Lewis (1), junior Levi Jones (11) and senior Deonte Price are hoping to lead the Petersburg Crimson Wave back into the top of the Central District ranks — and back into postseason contention.

PETERSBURG AT HOPEWELL: OCT. 26

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PREVIEWING COLONIAL HEIGHTS

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The 2012 Colonial Heights High School football team

Colonials have a new attitude New coach has numbers up and players believing they can win now BY NEIL FULLER SPORTS EDITOR

COLONIAL HEIGHTS — The Colonial Heights football team is playing a numbers game. With a winning attitude. The Colonials expect to carry 60 players on their 2012 roster. First-year coach Remus James wants that number to increase by at least 10 in each of the next two seasons. But James, who coached previously at Petersburg, has even loftier expectations for the program. He wants to win. M6

Now. “When we step on the field, we’re going to expect to win every game. That’s big for us,” James said. “We have some great athletes. We just have to prepare them physically and mentally. ... I’m extremely excited and the guys can feel it. ... It’s a different mentality, a different attitude. “When we step on the field, we expect to win every game.” The Colonials finished 2-8 overall last season — losing their final seven games in the process. James believes his team is ready to turn the page.

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“The level of committment is there,” he said. “(The players) see their coaches are 100-percent committed and now you can see that in the kids.” Colonial Heights had not settled on a starting quarterback after losing team leader Derek Mears to graduation. Three players, including junior Robert Dubberly and sophomore Brian Gwaltney, were seen as leading contenders. Dubberly is also considered an NCAA Division I prospect at free safety. “All three bring a different look to the offense,” James said. “We’re going to do what’s best for the team, so you might see

more than one out there.” Colonial Heights faces Patrick Henry (Aug. 23 scrimmage), Jefferson (Aug. 31), Park View (Sept. 14) and Armstrong/Kennedy (Sept. 21) before opening Central District play against Petersburg on Sept. 28. “We have a lot of building to do, but we’re going to compete,” James said. “I’ve told the guys that my goal is the district championship. I don’t accept anything less than that.” James sees Meadowbrook, Thomas Dale, Matoaca and Dinwiddie as the “big dogs” Please see COLONIALS, Page 7


A CLOSER LOOK AT THE COLONIALS HEAD COACH: REMUS JAMES (1st SEASON) NCAA DIVISION I PROSPECTS: ROBERT DUBBERLY (FREE SAFETY, QUARTERBACK) 2011 RECORDS: 2-8 OVERALL, 0-6 CENTRAL DISTRICT

2012 Colonial Heights High Football Schedule AUG. 31 vs. Thomas Jefferson SEPT. 14 vs. Park View SEPT. 21 vs. Armstrong/Kennedy SEPT. 28 vs. Petersburg OCT. 5 vs. Matoaca OCT. 12 at Hopewell OCT. 19 vs. Dinwiddie OCT. 26 at Prince George NOV. 2 at Meadowbrook NOV. 9 vs. Thomas Dale

OFFENSIVE STARTERS LOST: 6 DEFENSIVE STARTERS LOST: 4 COACH’S COMMENTS: “The offense should be more explosive. We have good talent at all thre skill positions, but the key to our success depends on our offensive line. “The defense has seven returning starters with two more that played a lot of snaps. It should be a good (defensive) unit.”

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in the Central District. “Meadowbrook just reloads every year,” James said. “Thomas Dale reloads. You still have Matoaca, which looks like a team in the hunt this year, and, of course, you’ve got Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie is a (Group AAA Division) 5 powerhouse. “I know I might be biased, but I feel we have one of the toughest districts in the

area.” James admits he has been surprised by two factors. “We’re athletic. Our athleticism is there,” he said. “We can go two-deep at every single position — and that’s big for us. And our linemen. We’ve got some young linemen, but they’ve really stepped up in contact (drills).” James listed veteran players such as Trevor Shoot and Deonte Jenkins as players to watch as Colonial Heights looks to move back into the district’s top tier. The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA Sunday, September 2, 2012

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INCOMING

PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

Matoaca’s Trevion Armstrong (15) attempts a catch under pressure from Clover Hill’s Dimitri Evans (9) during a 2011 regular-season game in Chesterfield.

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The 2012 Dinwiddie High School football team

Featuring Athletes From Local Area High Schools Appomattox Governor School Colonial Heights • Dinwiddie Hopewell • Matoaca • Petersburg Prince George • Thomas Dale

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PREVIEWING DINWIDDIE

GeneralsreloadedandreadyforactioninCentralDistrict BY COURT WILLS SPORTS WRITER

DINWIDDIE — For Billy Mills, there are high expectations for his Dinwiddie Generals football team this season. After a tough injury-ridden season last year, the Generals are back and ready to be wreckoned with. With the players that have come back from injuries, they are back full of vim and vigor both offensively and defensively. “Camp has been going great, the kids have come out hungry and have prepared well,” Mills said of his squad. “That’s been the big key for us so far in that the kids are prepared and if we keep building upon that over the season we will get to where we need to go.” Although, Dinwiddie brings back eight players on offense and nine players on defense, it will be hard to replace former players such as Drakar Harvell, Yoshie Monroe and Bryan Finney, who all left a sound framework for the Generals. “It’s definitely going to be hard to replace those guys but I was pleased to see a ton of kids that played hard for us last year come out again for us this season and come back healthy and ready to go,” Mills said. “None of our guys are going to be going both ways because of the amount of depth we have and because of the guys that we lost to injury have come back.” In the two scrimmages that Dinwiddie has participated in against Ocean Lakes and Bethel, Mills was pleased to see how well and fast his players were picking up the system. The team spent a whole week up at Fort Pickett where they developed their skills and came together as a team. “I was pleased to see how well we played. We were able to score four times to the other team’s two times,” Mills said. “We came out much happier than expected and stayed healthy which was greatly important.” Within those couple of scrimmages, Mills got a good look at his starting quarterback in junior Ronald Kearney who will make his first start against Monacan in a couple of weeks. Kearney is similar to Finney in that this will be his first full year as the quarterback of the Generals which Finney did as a senior last season. “He is a tremendous player to coach in that he will watch film and do what you ask of him to do. In the past I’ve had quarterbacks that have been 200 plus pounds and he is only about 160 pounds,” Mills said. “But he is tough, he likes to step out of that pocket and doesn’t get flustered easily, he just keeps getting better. With him being so coachable you know that he is going to continue to improve.”

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Mills likes that Kearney will have a ton of options when it comes to running the offense in his cluster of running backs in Sadarius Williams, Rashaad Goodwyn, Rashard Hicks and Darius Johnson. “Kearney is not going to have do it all by himself this season. We have a veteran offensive line where we have four of the five guys who have started for us and we have four great running backs that we will be able to use in a variety of ways,” Mills said. “Sadarius is just an overall all in one kind of running back that can catch the ball in the backfield, has great vision and can run by and break tackles. Rashard is a tough runner who goes north and south that has great speed and Rashaad is really cookie cutter of Rashard in that he is the fastest guy on team who can run the 4.4 for a guy who is about 200 pounds and Darius he is just a bull who will knock you down.” While some of these running backs do play on the defensive side of the football, Mills primarily will be using them on the offensive side because of the depth that is on the team. Just as Mills is pleased with the offense coming along, he is even more excited for the defense. “This potentially is the best defense that we’ve had at Dinwiddie and that is giving a ton of credit to the team that we had back in 2010,” Mills said. Mills also sees a ton of potential in his secondary. “Our secondary is the best we’ve had here and that’s saying a lot for the great team we had back in 2008,” Mills said. Similar to the offense, the defense brings back many veteran players including its linebackers and defensive line. Some of them include the likes of Jacory Fitzgerald, Chris Ryan and Deontre Scott. “This is the most talented group of players that we’ve had here. We really have both exceptional linebackers and a defensive line,” Mills said. “We feel that we have a good and balanced team both offensively and defensively,” Mills said. Mills is also pleased with the progress that special teams has been making over the course of the off season. “We have a great kicker in Erick Lopez and the No.1 long snapper in Alan Lucy who is being heavily recruited by Oregon and Alabama, I’m real pleased about this season,” Mills said. Dinwiddie will open the season regular season at home with Monacan and will open the Central District season on the road at Prince George. “You gotta be ready to play in the Central District because if you can get through it, come playoff season, it will have definitely prepared you,” Mills said. “There is a lot of parody in this district.”

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2012 Dinwiddie High Football Schedule AUG. 31 vs. Monacan SEPT. 7 at Varina SEPT. 21 vs. Highland Springs SEPT. 28 at Prince George OCT. 5 vs. Meadowbrook OCT. 12 at Thomas Dale OCT. 19 at Colonial Heights OCT. 26 vs. Matoaca NOV. 2 at Hopewell NOV. 9 vs. Petersburg

NORA DAVIS/COURTESY PHOTO


SKY IS THE LIMIT FOR DINWIDDIE

A CLOSER LOOK AT GENERALS COACH BILLY MILLS AGE: 44 FAMILY: DEBBIE (WIFE), CANAAN (JV FRESHMAN), CODY (7th GRADER ON MIDDLE SCHOOL TEAM) COLLEGE: EMORY AND HENRY BEST COACHING MOMENT FROM LAST SEASON: “Breaking through the adversity and winning the Petersburg game, sending us to the postseason for the fifth straight year, and allowing a bunch of seniors the chance to go out on a positive note.” Hopewell’s Largest Wrecker Service

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PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

Former Dinwiddie standout Chris Hall points to the sky during a 2011 game.

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A CLOSER LOOK AT THE GENERALS Key Veterans Deontre Scott Senior LB 83 Tackles, 49 solo, 10 for loss. 6 hurries, 5 sacks, 1 recovered fumble, 1 caused fumble, 1 defensive score. Ronald Cunningham Senior OL 2011 STATISTICS: Graded out 84% for the year with 36 knockdowns; gave up 1 sack in 11 games. Anchored an offensive line that averaged 353 yards per game and 30 points per game. HONORS: 2011: 1st team all district offensive guard, HM all region Jacory Fitzgerald Senior DL 49 tackles (21 solo, 9 for a loss), 3 QB hurries, 3 sacks, 3 caused fumbles, 1 recoverd fumbles, 1 blocked kick. HONORS: 2011 HM all district DE Toddric Bugg Senior OL Graded out at 81% for the year with 29 knockdowns. Anchored an offensive line on an offense that averaged 353 yards per game and 30 points per game. HONORS: Honorable mention M12

all district as a freshmen; 2nd honorable mention all district team all district as a junior. runningback Named Offensive Lineman MVP at National Rashaad Goodwyn RB/DB Junior Underclassman Combine as Season ending injury (only both a freshman and a junior. played in 1 ½ games) 2 tackles, 1 reception Chris Ryan Senior DL for a touchdown for 10 yards, 7 14 tackles (2 solo, 3 for a loss), 1 carries for 34 yards. QB hurries, 2 sacks. HONORS: Named combine king in both his freshman and Darius Johnson Senior LB sophomore years at the National 2010 STATISTICS: 133 tackles Underclassman Combine in (64 solo, 12 for a loss), 3 QB Richmond. Listed as one of hurries, 4 sacks, 1 caused the top prospects in the state of fumble, 2 recovered fumble, 2 Virginia for his class. pass breakups, 1 interception, 1 caused interception, 1 defensive Wesley Reed WR/DB Junior score. 12 carries for 2 receptions for 33 yards and 83 yards and 1 touchdown. two touchdowns; 8 tackles (4 2011 STATISTICS: 63 tackles (40 solo); only solo, 8 for a loss), 5 QB hurries, 7 played first game in 2011, had sacks, 2 recoverd fumbles. season ending injury. You HONORS: 2010: HM all district havn’t heard linebacker; 2011: 1st team all much about this kid but you district DL. will. Sadarius Williams RB/LB 11 71 tackles (57 solo, 15 for a loss), 4 hurries, 6 sacks, 1 caused fumble, 3 fumble recoveries, 3 pass break-ups, 2 blocked kicks, 1interception, 1 defensive score. 106 carries for 685 yards and 9 touchdowns, 24 receptions for 192 yards and 1 touchdown.1st team all district linebacker,

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O’Neal Shell DB/WR Junior 29 tackles (16 solo, 1 for a loss), 1 interception. 4 receptions for 37 yards. Elijah Harris WR/DB Junior 2011 STATISTICS: 6 receptions for 51 yards, 3 punt returns for 22 yards; 11 kickoff returns for 251 yards and 1 touchdown.

Rashard Hicks RB/LB Junior 2011 STATISTICS: 61 tackles (30 solo, 3 for a loss), 1 caused fumble, 2 recovered fumble, 1 sack, 2 blocked kicks, 1 interception, 1 defensive score. 28 carries for 182 yards; 3 receptions for 26 yards. Shawn Gholson OL Junior 2011 STATISTICS: graded out 73% for the year with 27 knockdown blocks, offense rushed for 183 yards per game, and averaged 370 yards and 30 points per game. John Branch DB/WR Sophomore 2011 STATISTICS: 47 tackles (30 solo, 3 for a loss), 1 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 1 interception. Denzel Williams DB/WR Sophomore Other returning members: Devyn Marshall OL Junior Alan Lucy OL/Long Snapper Ranked No. 1 in nation as long snapper by Rubio Kicking/Snapping being recruited by many including Alabama, LSU, and Oregon


PREVIEWING MATOACA

PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

The 2012 Matoaca High School football team

Manuel, Warriors eager to hit the field BY COURT WILLS SPORTS WRITER

CHESTERFIELD — For veteran Matoaca coach Pat Manuel, he cannot wait for football season to begin. With the new rules that the Virginia High School League implemented this year allowing teams to start earlier in preparing their teams, the Matoaca Warriors football team has taken full advantage. “It has been a good preseason, the kids are working are hard and we are very optimistic,” said Manuel, who

enters his 28th year of coaching football. “It’s been a group effort of our seniors stepping up to the plate. This has been one of the best participation class that we’ve seen in a long time.” Manuel has enjoyed the fact that his players have been able to get into better shape and take full advantage of the weight room as well as putting players in the right position. “We’ve been able to lift and condition a lot more and work on developing our football skills. We are helping people get into the right places making it a much smoother transition for us,” Manuel

said. While the Warriors may be a little underclassed this season, the players that will be participating for the team developed greatly last season playing as sophomores. “We played a lot of sophomores last season but they all got a significant amount of playing time and got the chance to play which has been key for us,” Manuel said. Both sides of the football got a lot of chances to play so in that fact we’ve retur ned a g reat amount.” Compared to in the past, Matoaca has

more depth up front for the first time in a while which has added a little pep in their steps. “We are little bit bigger than we have been. A lot of our kids are about 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 up front on the field which has helped us improve,” Manuel said. Similar to other teams, Matoaca graduated one of its best players and leader in quarterback Michael Birdsong who now plays college football for James Madison University. “You cannot replace Birdsong no Please see MATOACA, Page 16

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PRINCE GEORGE AT MATOACA: NOV. 2

2012 Matoaca High Football Schedule AUG. 30 vs. Cosby SEPT. 7 vs. Manchester SEPT. 14 at Clover Hill SEPT. 28 vs. Thomas Dale OCT. 5 at Colonial Heights OCT. 12 vs. Petersburg OCT. 19 vs. Hopewell OCT. 26 at Dinwiddie NOV. 2 vs. Prince George NOV. 9 at Meadowbrook

MATOACA

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question, he meant so much to this team and we couldn’t be prouder of him and happier for him,” Manuel said. Matoaca will now turn to senior quarterback Brandon Starke who will bring a different style to the football team. “Starke is more of your play action M16

roll out scrambler who knows how to roll out and plant his feet well. He throws the ball effective and can turn a busted play into a big gain,” Manuel said. “He started on the defensive side for us last year getting a lot of playing time and also was able to get some good reps in practice last year while Birdsong was here.” Starke who not only provides an accurate passer rating, he will also have a

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Prince George’s Keith Jefferson dodges Matoaca defensive players during a 2011 Central District game. Matoaca hosts Prince George on Nov. 2 for the two programs’ annual rivalry game. variety of options at the running back and wide receiver positions. Some of those players include Brandon Brown who is a solid tight end, Trevion Armstrong who is a 6-5 wideout and Winston Reed and Khalil Coleman who provide multiple threats on the ground. On defense, Matoaca has quite a few athletes that have gotten bigger over the off season in Brown, Resean Bolton,

Khalil Parsons and Jordan Reyes that will produce and show sound athleticism. “In the Central District you have a dogfight each week where there are no easy games. It is not an easy district by any means,” Manuel said. Matoaca opens the regular season at home with Manchester and will open the district season with Thomas Dale at home as well.


2012 Thomas Dale High Football Schedule

THOMAS DALE AT PETERSBURG: SEPT. 21

SEPT. 7 vs. L.C. Bird SEPT. 14 vs. Varina SEPT. 21 at Petersburg SEPT. 28 at Matoaca OCT. 5 vs. Hopewell OCT. 12 vs. Dinwiddie OCT. 19 at Prince George OCT. 26 vs. Meadowbrook NOV. 2 at L.C. Bird NOV. 9 at Colonial Heights

TEAM LEADERS PATRICK KANE/ PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

Prince George senior TE/ LB Caleb Johnson was an allCentral District selection in 2011.

PATRICK KANE/ PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

Prince George senior Jerrod Reed

PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

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MATOACA PRIDE

PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTOS

Matoaca was the first prep football team to play a game in the Tri-Cities area in 2012. The Warriors opened the new season with a home date against the Cosby Titans on Aug. 30. Cosby claimed a 19-7 victory.

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KICKOFF TIME IS HERE

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2012 Hopewell High Football Schedule

A COMMON ENEMY

SEPT. 7 vs. Cosby SEPT. 14 vs. Lee-Davis SEPT. 21 at Brunswick SEPT. 28 at Meadowbrook OCT. 5 at Thomas Dale OCT. 12 vs. Colonial Heights OCT. 19 at Matoaca OCT. 26 vs. Petersburg Nov. 2 vs. Dinwiddie NOV. 9 at Prince George

PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

Cosby’s Aaron Parker returns a kick during the Titans’ season-opening game at Matoaca on Aug. 30. Cosby, a Midlothian school and Dominion District member, also has Hopewell on its 2012 regular-season schedule and scrimmaged against Prince George on Aug. 23. M20

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PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

The 2012 Hopewell High School football team

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PREVIEWING HOPEWELL

BlueDevilslookingto gaingroundwithnew run-and-gun offense BY NEIL FULLER SPORTS EDITOR

HOPEWELL — These are exciting times for the Hopewell High School football team and coach Ricky Irby. The Blue Devils will feature a newlook offense, going no-huddle for the 2012 season. Octavious Taylor and Drake Scearce served as quarterbacks during a preseason scrimmage Aug. 17. Hopewell also produced over 400 yards of offense in a scrimmage against Clover Hill. “I’ve been very impressed,” Irby said of his team’s preseason practices involving the new offense. “We’re going to try to score as many points as we can.” He also likes his players’ diversity on the field. “We’re going to be versatile,” Irby said. “We’ve got some kids that are truly diverse.” Prince George opened last season with a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to Dominion District contender Cosby en route to a 3-7 overall finish. The Royals won two Central District games, including a 61-13 victory at Colonial Heights, but concluded the campaign by being outscored 54-7 over their final two games. So Irby took action spent the majority of the summer — a time when most elect to take extended vacations — bonding with his team. And letting them bond with each other. And even a former team member. The ever-loyal Irby was in attendance as for mer Hopewell running back Dashon Bowen played in the Virginia High School Coaches Association AllStar game in Hampton on July 13. “There was a lot of pride as I watched Dashon play in that game,” said Irby, M22

who graduated from Virginia Tech in 2000. “It was not only good for Dashon, but for our entire program. I was proud of him. ... I wouldn’t have missed that game for the world. It was like a father watching one of his children play against the best competition.” Bowen signed with Ferrum College after rushing for 1,971 yards and 25 touchdowns on 300 carries during his career with the Blue Devils. “(Ferrum) is excited to have Dashon,” Irby said. “They know they’re getting a good kid and a solid player.” Irby hopes to see more Hopewell players given a chance in the college ranks. And he’s willing to put in the hard work to make that a reality. He spent chunks of the summer taking players to camps at Virginia, VMI, Richmond, East Carolina, Liberty University and Amelia County High School. For Irby, these camps represent the opportunity to match the right studentathlete with the right school — including academics. “It has to be a good fit,” Irby said. “There’s a school out there for each kid. I preach to our players how important academics are. If you take care of academics, you’re set. You’ll be able to fit into the right school and (football) program.” The Blue Devils have gone 7-13 overall — and 5-9 in Central District play — under Irby, a 1995 Hopewell graduate. Hopewell won a state championship in 2003 with Irby serving as an assistant coach. The tradition of regaining that winning tradition starts now.

Sunday, September 2, 2012 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA

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MEET THE NEW ADDITIONS TO THE HOPEWELL COACHING STAFF

Bobby Pershing - OLBs - veteran coach of 25+ years retired after winning a state championship in‘03. Brings a wealth of knowledge and experience Bobby Henderson - LBs- was starting center as a sophomore on that state championship team. He’s the youngest son of former long time defensive coordinater Herman Henderson who recently retired. Bobby played college football at Christopher Newport University and coached last year at Dinwiddie. Brian Moore - OL - played center at Randolph Macon and also was the o-line coach there. Was also the line coach on some very impressive Varina teams that won multiple championships. Jerry McCoy - RBs- Jerry coached at Halifax High School for the past 6 seasons. He played high school football in Texas and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience.


VIRGINIA STATE PICKED TO FINISH 3RD IN CIAA NORTH

ASHLEY APODACA/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

The Virginia State defense gangs up to stop a Virginia Union running back during the two bitter rivals’ 2011 meeting in Ettrick. The Trojans have been picked to finish third in the CIAA North this season.

2012 Virginia State University Football Schedule SEPT. 1 at Norfolk State SEPT. 8 vs. West Liberty University SEPT. 15 at Benedict College SEPT. 22 at Johnson C. Smith SEPT. 29 vs. Shaw OCT. 6 vs. Elizabeth City State OCT. 13 at Bowie State OCT. 20 vs. Lincoln (Pa.) OCT. 27 vs. Chowan NOV. 3 at Virginia Union

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Knights getting aggressive BY COURT WILLS SPORTS WRITER

CHESTER — For the third-year Thomas Dale coach Kevin Tucker, thisseason will all be about trial and error. Having lost some valuable players in Desmond Frye (Virginia Tech), Lorenzo Fields (Hampton), Darius Spruill (NC Central) and Darius McKinney (Chowan), the Knights will have some of the biggest shoes to fill. “This is as young as we’ve ever been here at Thomas Dale. We have a good mix and have a lot of experience, but some of our players haven’t had that playoff kind of experience,” Tucker said. “But these guys have stepped up to the plate and are beginning to play key roles for us. It is not going to be easy to replace those players.” Currently, the Knights are welcoming back six players on the offensive side of the ball and five players on the defensive side. “Right now, we are teaching the fundamentals and getting them to have confidence because we have all the faith in the world that they are going to step up to the plate,” Tucker said. “You have to adapt to your players and work from there. We are still going to have that power mentality like we’ve always had on offense.” New quarterback John Ford, who transferred from Prince George, will be leading Thomas Dale — where Tucker hopes the senior will bring leadership and diligence to the squad. “Ford was a pleasant surprise and I think that he will fall right into place here. We definitely have four guys that can help him out running back-wise in D.J. Reid, Raegan Davis and Eric Fenney, who is a sophomore and “is as fast as lightning,” Tucker said. Defensively, Thomas Dale plans on

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being aggressive while versatile, trying to adjust to the different schemes up front especially when it comes to facing Central District opponents in Dinwiddie and Meadowbrook. “Matt Saunders has been a real stand out for us so far as well as CJ Revis Jr. who can play good football at the cornerback position. Revis can cover anybody and is a ball of fire,” Tucker said. Special teams wise the Knights will be looking to Matt Mangana to take over for Anthony Prevost who was huge in Thomas Dale’s success over the years as well as punter Trevor Luke who knows how to punt the ball a long ways. “Mangana has been a pleasant surprise for us also. He is a soccer player and he makes sure he gets a lot of reps in at practice,” Tucker said. “Trevor Luke who will be our punter can punt that ball a mile long.” Despite many teams in the district having lost a significant amount of great athletes, Thomas Dale doesn’t plan on underestimating any teams in district or out of district. In the first two games that the Knights will play, they will take on strong outside teams including archrival L.C. Bird and Varina. But no matter who the opponent turns out to be, one can expect that the Knights will be playing with that Thomas Dale pride. “Our goals have always been the same. Our goals have always been to play great football and respect the elders that came before us and those who will come after us,” Tucker said. “It’s going to be a battle every night. There is a good mix of teams in the district this year where I think that Petersburg could be the surprise team because they have some of the best athletes like we do. “All we wish for is that in the 10 weeks that we take on anyone one of them that we have the upper hand in the end.”

Sunday, September 2, 2012 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA

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PREVIEWING THOMAS DALE

PASHLEY APODACA/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

Thomas Dale opens its 2012 season at rival L.C. Bird.


PREVIEWING PRINCE GEORGE

PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

The 2012 Prince George High School football team

Royalscontinuebuilding FROM STAFF REPORTS

MIDLOTHIAN — The Prince George High School football team finished within a game of the .500 mark last season. The Royals won two of their final three games — including a 55-14 win at Colonial Heights and a 26-7 victory at archrival Hopewell — to gain some momentum heading into the 2012 season. And the news only gets better for Prince George as the preseason gives way to regular-season play. “I think we’re a little more athletic than we anticipated being,” Royals coach Bruce Carroll said following a scrimmage at Cosby on Aug.23. “We have to find a way to get those (athletic) guys the ball. ... The issues I saw on the field tonight are all correctable. “As long as these guys are willing to put the work in, we’re good.”

Those guys include standout senior Caleb Johnson, who plays both tight end and linebacker for Carroll — and is seen as a key leader in the locker room. Johnson earned first-team all-Central District honors on defense last season after recording 112 tackles. His presence was noteable against Cosby, where he physically stood head and shoulders above several Titans players. Kameron Smith and Jerrod Reed shared the majority of quarterbacking duties in the scrimmage against Cosby. Smith, a junior, started against the Titans. Carroll sees the district races as a rugged one once again. “It’s going to be tough week in and week out,” he said. “We just have to go out and play every week.” Prince George hosts four consecutive games to open the season. The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA Sunday, September 2, 2012

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2012 Prince George High Football Schedule SEPT. 7 vs. Clover Hill SEPT. 14 vs. Jefferson SEPT. 21 vs. Marshall SEPT. 28 vs. Dinwiddie OCT. 5 at Petersburg OCT. 12 at Meadowbrook OCT. 19 vs. Thomas Dale OCT. 26 vs. Colonial Heights NOV. 2 at Matoaca NOV. 9 vs. Hopewell

A TALE OF TWO QBs

PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTOS

Prince George High School quarterbacks Kameron Smith (at left) and Jerrod Reed (at top) are seen during the Royals’ scrimmage at Cosby on Aug. 23. M26

Sunday, September 2, 2012 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA

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We Support Our Team! Good Luck Players & Coaches

Have A Great 2012 Season TAYLOR’S AUTO SERVICE

Where players, fans and coaches love to eat! 5 Cavalier Square Hopewell • 458-4241

Have a GREAT Season! (804) 458-0880 3501 Woodlawn St. Hopewell

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GO BLUE DEVILS! The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA Sunday, September 2, 2012

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Huguenot - Bon Air 1612 Huguenot Road 794-9789

Ironbridge - Courthouse 6441 Ironbridge Road 743-8166

West End - Staples Mill 10212 Staples Mill Road 672-4900

Mechanicsville - Hanover 6353 Mechanicsville Turnpike 730-3400

Powhatan 2625 Anderson Highway 598-3000

Midlothian - 288 14253 Midlothian Turnpike 379-1011

Atlee - Ashland 10500 Atlee Station Rd. 550-3324

West End - Short Pump 12390 Three Chopt Rd. 364-7010

Brandermill - Woodlake 6510 Harbour View Court 739-6500

Chester - Rt.1/Rt.10 12712 Jefferson Davis Highway 751-0300

Colonial Heights 209 Temple Avenue 526-4822

F a m i ly D e n t i s t r y ~ O r t h O D O n t i c s ~ P e r i O D O n t i c s ~ P e r m a n e n t t O O t h r e P l a c e m e n t M28

Sunday, September 2, 2012 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA

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