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By Jeff McClintock
Before taking the field for Friday night’s tussle with Tunstall High School, Staunton River football coach Chuck Poston emphatically told his team in the locker room that there was only one team in the stadium that could beat the Eagles.
That team was the one to which he was speaking.
Poston implored them not to beat themselves.
That message was received and executed, as Staunton River pounded the homestanding Tunstall Trojans, en route to a 37-0 victory.
Most of the season, the offense has been keyed by long runs from Meech Coles and Cody Jones. As a result, those two usually got all of the pub. But this game, it was all about the Eagle defense, a unit that forced Tunstall to go three plays and out on seven of their eight possessions in the game.
Poston spoke about his team’s defensive effort, saying, “They were all over the place tonight. We like to run downhill and do the things we do.”
A possibility of that “thing” could be harassing the opposing quarterback and stopping the running game. Tunstall was held to negative three yards for the game. Yep, that is (-3) yards. Total.
Oh, and the Eagle offense got in on the act, too. Coles scored from 63 yards out on the first offensive drive of the game to make a statement: We are not to be trifled with.
Poston assessed, “We had them (Tunstall) behind the eight-ball after that first score.”
What impressed the coach, though, was his offensive line. He stated, “I am tickled to death with how we are playing up front.”
That offensive line would continue to dominate on the Eagles next possession, as Jones called his own number and busted loose up the right side for a 32-yard score. Stephen Hardy’s point after attempt would sail true, and the rout was on.
Following another Tunstall three-and-out Jones would hook up with Jarodd Nichols, for a 21-yard touchdown pass. The after-touchdown conversion would fail, but it wouldn’t matter. For all intents and purposes, this game was over.
On the next possession, River would reel off one of its signature time-consuming drives. This one covered 62 yards in eight plays, with Jones finishing. His little tip-toe dance down the left sideline gave the assembled a tutorial in balance. He would manage to stay inbounds and turn it into a 34-yard touchdown run.
Hardy would add a 38-yard field goal before the half, giving River a 30 to zip advantage.
With the game well in hand, River would play its backups in the second half. Poston spoke about the players coming up, calming the naysayers who think there is no one behind Jones and Coles, who are both seniors. He said, “The cupboard is not bare. We are building a culture here (at Staunton River). We are building a culture that expects to win.” He went on to say, “There is no place I would rather be than Staunton River.”
One of the players expected back for the Eagles next season is current junior Jarrett Moon, who had a 31-yard touchdown jaunt in the 4th quarter to conclude the scoring.
Taking care of Tunstall, the 4-2 Golden Eagles can now focus on the Blue Ridge District and get ready for Lord Botetourt this Friday night.
Coach Poston explained this to his kids saying after the game “Now every game matters.”
Yes indeed. They certainly do, Coach.
-Hardy had the kind of night that kickers truly enjoy.
“Shaggy” nailed a 38-yard field goal and added four PATs. Best of all, he punted exactly zero times. Sure, he’s a fine punter, but when he’s not asked to do so, it means his team is doing well.
-Coles ran for 123 yards, but it only took him 13 carries to do so (9.5 yards per carry).
-Moon racked up 82 yards, while Trevian White added 57. Remember, at some point Coles will graduate. It looks as though Coach Poston has some solid talent behind him in building that culture to which he referred..
-Chris Tyree and Paul Williams each had three carries. Tyree picked up 16 yards and Williams netted 11. You might know these two as the future of SRHS wrestling. They’re that and more, obviously.
-Defensively, White led the onslaught, with seven tackles. -Middle linebacker Brian Ellis had six tackles, four of which were for loss.
-Tunstall had nine of its 25 plays result in lost yardage, a testament to the swarming nature of the Staunton River defense.