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Now, THAT’s the way to start a football season.
The last couple of opening games for Jefferson Forest have been less-than-happy affairs.
This year’s was quite a bit different. Jefferson Forest 35, Halifax County 12.
The Cavs sent out a message; one that was both loud and clear: 2011 will be different from 2010. That message came in the form of a potent attack, a stifling defense and near-flawless special teams play.
“I think if we play as we are capable, we can play with anyone,” said Jefferson Forest Head Coach Don Rice.
There was little doubt that Rice’s Cavs could play with the Comets. Although Halifax is a good-sized (both in numbers and in physical dimensions) and physical team, it was clearly overmatched in this contest.
It didn’t take long to come to that realization. The tone was set when JF’s Dylan “Mister Touchback” Sims drilled the opening kickoff for a touchback.
“Who does that at the high school level?” asked Staunton River Head Coach Chuck Poston, who was in the stands. “There are NFL kickers who don’t do that.”
Halifax’s first play from scrimmage resulted in Chad Pinigis dragging a Comet down for a 10-yard loss.
Two passes later, Halifax punted and JF set up shop at midfield. Quarterback Marcus Jones then led the Cavs on an eight-play touchdown drive.
That series included a third-down run by Jones up the gut for nine yards, keeping the drive alive. It also featured Mikey Wallman scooting around left tackle for a ten-yard touchdown. Wallman, by the way was quick to thank his linemen after the score for tearing gaping chasms in the Halifax defense.
But the highlight of the drive came on a 13-yard catch by Ryan Gingrich. The strapping senior showed why he was a first-team All-Seminole tight end last year. On the opening drive of the first game of the year, Gingrich caught a Jones pass with one hand, in the middle of the field as he dove away from the line of scrimmage. Note to opposing coaches: Don’t overlook this guy.
The JF defense continued bottling up the Comets, who always seemed to be on their own 20-yard line. Pablo Ebeling, Pinigis, Mike Baker, Michael Yost and Colby Tomlinson dominated the trenches.
Linebackers Wallman and Garrett Neal were free to roam in hunt of their prey.
Alex Cox and Bailey Correll were able to play their safety positions closer than one might expect. LJ White and Jones provided exceptional coverage.
Midway through the first quarter, Sims attempted a 56-yard field goal. That’s right folks, 56! While the kick went wide left, Sims was mauled in the process. No matter. It shows the level of faith Rice has in his kicker.
JF opened the second quarter on the Halifax 38. From there, halfback Tyler Fowler went to work, picking up 18 yards on two carries. Jones then threw a dump pass to Gingrich who rumbled into the end zone under escort for a 20-yard touchdown and a 14-0 Jeff Forest lead.
That lead grew to 21-0 when Fowler gobbled up 42 yards on four carries helping bring the ball from the Cav 46 to the Halifax one. From there, Jones danced in for the TD and a 21-0 lead that would hold up through the half.
An insurance touchdown was added when Halifax’s deep snapper tossed the tater over the punter’s head. Pinigis won the race to the ball, scarfing it up in the end zone.
That one sealed the Comets’ doom. Fowler would tack on a touchdown when he sauntered eight yards into the end zone, after being set up by a couple of nifty runs by Jones.
Halifax put up a pair of touchdowns, looking good in doing so under the leadership of quarterback Richard Jacobs. But any Comet scoring came much too late.
-Fowler rushed for 140 yards and Jones rambled for 155 as each had 25 carries. The duo can thank the offensive line of Ryan Roberson, Alex Bennett, Sam Shaulis, Cody Gehman and Dalton King for their success in opening gaping holes. Don’t forget tight ends Dro Herrera and Gingrich in that mix.
-Rice seemed especially pleased that the line reacted so well when it encountered the unexpected.
-”We’d like to throw it more,” said Rice. “But when you have two kids with over 100 yards rushing, you don’t need to throw it.”
-Sabre Stadium had quite a large crowd, especially given that school had only started up that week.
-The JF defense allowed only two first downs in the first half. Additionally, the Cavs only let Halifax cross the midfield line once in that first half. That situation was resolved when the Comets fumbled and Pinigis recovered.
-Pablo Ebeling had a notable game, being disruptive and destructive at the same time.