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Before the start of Staunton River’s game at James River, the two head coaches exchanged pleasantries.
Phillip King, coach of James River, remarked that he’d heard of some of the Staunton River players.
Rick Witt, Staunton River’s coach, mentioned to running back Meech Coles that King had never heard of the junior.
Following the 42-33 Eagle win, the young man sheepishly asked Witt, “Do you think he knows who I am now?”
Don’t worry, Meech. Your four touchdowns and 327 yards on 45 carries in the win ensures that every coach of every team remaining on the Eagles’ schedule has heard of you.
The win pushed the Eagles’ streak to two straight. The last time Staunton River won back-to-back games was in 2004.
In this second win, however, the Eagles didn’t have the outcome in doubt until the very last second.
The Eagles spotted the Knights an early lead on Jordan Talbot touchdown pass. Staunton River helped out on that initial strike by muffing the coverage. But, the Eagles stormed back on a pair of Coles touchdowns.
Coles’s first TD came on a 16-yard dash, capping a 45-yard drive.
His second score came on an inside isolation play. That same play accounted for roughly 80% of Coles’s 45 carries.
Ricky Pierce and Ryan Willis were standouts in clearing lanes for the halfback.
Talbot, however, hit another long scoring pass to tie it up before the Eagles responded with a pair of touchdowns.
It could have been more. Silly penalties and a fumble had the Eagles thwarting two potential scoring drives. “That was the worst half of football we’ve played this season,” said Witt, in spite of a 28-14 lead.
Eagles such as Pierce and Wesley Gates seemed particularly miffed at what they saw, in spite of Gates having raced 68 yards with a Cody Jones pass for the touchdown that gave Staunton River the 28-14 halftime lead.
The Gates touchdown showed some heads-up thinking. On that down, the call had been for a screen pass to Gates. Quarterback Jones saw that the Knight defense was playing the speedy Gates close to the line.
He checked off, opting for a long pass route, which Gates ran to perfection.
The performances of Gates and Jones (as well as Coles) mattered little at halftime.
The locker room carried a haze of unpleasantness, according to Coach Witt.
Even after Trevian White’s two-yard touchdown in the early going of the second half, the mood didn’t lighten.
Coles’s one-yard score, wrapped up the game in the third quarter, and still there was little joy.
What gives? Isn’t this the team that should be grateful that it won a game, especially since it had managed to lose 25 straight, heading into this season?
No. In a sure sign of growth and development, the Eagles were not happy with just beating James River. “They’re not content with mediocrity,” noted Witt. “Yeah, we’ve won two in a row, but that doesn’t mean we’re happy with how we did it. Contentment can get you killed.”
-The Eagle defense was stout against the run but not so against the pass. The Knights were only able to muster 19 yards on 21 rushes, for an average of 0.905 yards per carry.
Jones was in on 11 tackles, while Gates was involved in another nine.
Brian Ellis had four solo tackles and seven assists, while Solomon McCullough had three solos and five assists.
-Before putting anyone in for the Nagurski Award, however, check out James River’s air game performance. Talbot went to the air 30 times, completing 19 of his tosses for 377 yards. That’s 19.8 yards per catch. It’s also 12.6 yards per throw.
-Jones and Gates provided some of the brighter spots on defense. Gates forced a fumble with a sharp hit. He also recovered the loose ball.
Jones picked off a Talbot pass and returned it 45 yards to set up the Eagles nicely.
-K.C. Bradley came up with a big fumble recovery on a kickoff.
-Speaking of special teams play, Gates and Bobby Hobbs sparkled in their roles as return men. Gates had two returns for 36 yards, and Hobbs had a pair for 42 yards. The Knights tried to avoid the two by deliberately kicking off out of bounds.
-Call Gates Mr. Deja vu. He had four catches for 139 yards. In last week’s win over Patrick County he had four catches for 149 yards. Maybe it’d be better to call him Mr. Consistent.